Apr 19, 2017

Stevan Dovanos: The Artist Behind the Homoerotic Towel Ads of World War II

You've seen copies of these magazine ads everywhere on the internet: naked World War II-era soldiers frolicking with towels, their butts and bulges in full view.

They didn't all show a lot of butt, but there were plenty of hard bodies and homoerotic hijinks.

They were called "True Towel Tales," illustrated one-page stories published magazines in 1943 and 1944. designed to sell Cannon towels.

Notice that towels play a prominent role in the illustrations.

The artist was Stevan Dovanos, born to Hungarian immigrant parents in Cleveland in 1907.  He attended the Cleveland Art Institute, and later moved to Westport, Connecticut.

Dubbed a "new Grant Wood," Dohanos specialized in "slices-of-life" small town Americana.  He illustrated the covers of 125 issues of the Saturday Evening Post with pictures of what he called  "Anytown U.S.A."

They remind me of Norman Rockwell's work, but with more humor and realism.

This is a rare historical painting of Roman gladiators.

Dpvanos was also interested in postage stamps.  As a member of the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, he oversaw the design of over 300 commemorative stamps during the 1960s and 1970s.

He died on July 4th, 1994, at the age of 87, leaving his second wife and son, apparently never aware that he was producing homoerotic art.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the history of these ads. Six of them ran in Life magazine during the war. Spent years tracking them down.


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