ALL MAN: THE INTERNATIONAL MALE STORY
BRYAN DARLING + JESSE FINLEY REED | USA | 2022 | 83 MIN | ENGLISH
In collaboration with
Immortalized in Zoolander and Seinfeld’s “puffy shirt,” International Male was both celebrated and maligned as “that gay catalogue.” Narrator Matt Bomer chronicles how founder Gene Burkard and his team rebranded masculinity as the confidence to embrace style, no matter how outrageous, bridging the gap between masturbation material and mail-order sensation.
Appealing to gay men but shrewdly inoffensive to straight consumers, International Male reached millions of homes across the globe, racking up famous customers like Elton John and Cher. The catalogue’s fantasy lifestyles and glistening physiques glorified the male body and provided an antidote to the often harsh realities of the 70s and 80s, whether it be conservative ideas of manliness or the devastations of AIDS. Former employees and style influencers such as Carson Kressley take us from the company’s scrappy early years in “Vaseline Flats” to its eventual acquisition by Hanover Direct and the changes wrought by a scramble for profitability. Accentuating the positives, like the catalogue’s ability to help usher gay men out of the closet, they also contend with thornier elements, like the lack of diversity, as well as the insecurities engendered in men, even the models themselves.
screening at Centre PHI | NOVEMBER 26 7PM
ONLINE (november 27th to december 2nd)