Feb 18, 2018

The Gay Erotic Postcards of Pops Pullum

Born in 1887, William A. Pullum grew up in Camberwell, a poor neighborhood of south London.  He was a slim, sickly boy, suffering from tuberculosis and a host of other ailments.  As part of his therapy, he took up weight lifting, and soon he was starring in strength exhibitions across Britain .  In 1911 he joined the British Amateur Weight Lifting Association, and during the next five years, broke 200 weightlifting records.  He was most famous for his "Plan Feat," in which he lifted 14 men with his arms and leg -- 2000 pounds -- all the more remarkable because he was a featherweight, weighing about 120 pounds


He wrote two instructional books which are still in print: Weight Lifting Made Easy and Interesting (1922) and How to Use a Barbell (1922).

As the president of the Camberwell Weight Lifting Club in England, Pullum trained many future weight lifting greats.

But he did more than train.  He offered a full range of photos of his most buffed pupils, naked except for their shoes and loincloths or skimpy posing straps, under the series "Pullum's Popular Pupils"

 C. F. Attenborough became a 1924 Olympic champion.

T. W. Cranfield was named "Britain's Strongest Youth" (I don't know by whom; I suspect by Pullum).

William Beattie was known as  "The Scottish Apollo."  Mostly by Pullum.

 And A. A. Verge was "The British Hercules."  Hercules is more powerful than Apollo, right?

The postcards were immensely popular for amateur weight lifters to use as inspiration. 

And for gay men. During the 1920s and 1930s, every gay man had a stash of muscleman postcards, used for erotic appreciation, but also for identifying each other.

"Would you like to see my postcard collection?" was a standard pickup line.  You would display some ordinary postcards, then throw in some musclemen and decide, from his reaction, whether to make a move.

Although "Pops" Pullum retired in 1929, he remained one of the most respected elder statesmen of the weight lifting sport for generations.  When he died in 1960, he was mourned by thousands of amateur weight lifters.

And gay men.

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