For gay men who came of age before the turn of the millennium, the International Male catalogue holds a special place in their memory.
Glossy, risqué, and as trashy as it was alluring, it was more than just a way to order mail-order clothes – it was a cultural touchstone. The items they sold might sometimes have been more than a little tacky (pirate shirt, anyone?), but the men who were modeling them for us were enough to stir any young gay-curious boy’s imagination in the way that leaves a lasting impression.
The company behind this little gem of gay history disappeared along with the 20th century, and the world has moved on – there’s internet porn now, after all. Still, though International Male is gone, the fond memories linger, and a trio of filmmakers is counting on that – they aim to make a documentary telling the story behind the iconic queer catalogue, and they’re asking for your help to do it.
According to their fundraising pitch on the Film Collaborative website, the film will be, “The story behind the iconic International Male fashion catalog that transformed the ‘All-American Boy,’ changing fashion, masculinity, and gay rights forever.”
They offer the following synopsis:
“More than outrageous fashions, hunky models,
and scandalous undies, ALL MAN is a journey across three decades of the
International Male catalog’s lasting impact on fashion, masculinity, and gay
With revenues at its peak of $120 million and circulation of over 3 million, the catalog successfully appealed to both gay and straight audiences. For gay men, the images of sensually dressed men were a gateway into a fantasy world providing an escape from the AIDS crisis and widespread homophobia. For straight men and their female admirers, the catalog gave permission to take fashion risks and enjoy a more carefree expression of sexuality without threatening their masculinity and sexual appeal.
ALL MAN: The International Male Story is designed as a tribute to the catalog’s unique aesthetic and cultural relevance. The film mixes exclusive never-seen-before photographs and videos, interviews with super fans and celebrities, and creative re-enactments of the infamous photo shoots, and more!”
The movie’s directors are Bryan Darling and Jesse Finley Reed, with Peter Jones as producer. According to the film’s Facebook page, Jake Shears is set to appear in it, along with Carson Kressley, Brian Buzzini, David Knight, Steve Lyon, Robert Goold.
You can donate through the Film Collaborative page.