May 3, 2018
Tony Sansone: Jazz Age Bodybuilder and Gay Icon
Who was interested in photos of a muscular man in a posing strap, or fully nude? Mostly gay men.
How did he get around the Comstock Act? Apparently his body was so perfectly symmetrical that it looked like a sculpture. Works of art could be nude.
He became nearly as famous as Charles Atlas himself, sought out by artists like Arthur Lee ("Rhythm," 1930), praised as "the most beautiful man in America," compared to film star Rudolph Valentino.
He lived through the "man-mountain" era of bodybuilding in the 1940s and 1950s, but continued to pose in the old-fashioned lithe, limber style, to be admired for his beauty rather than his bulk.
He lived through the Gay Liberation Era of the 1970s, and into the age of AIDS, knowing that most of the men who collected his photographs were gay.
No hint of Tony's own sexual identity, although he did have a wife and two kids.
Later in life he moved to St. Louis to be close to his son. He died in 1987.
There are nude photos on Tales of West Hollywood.