Did you have a subscription to the mail-order catalog, International Male? Well, at its peak, the fashion magazine was distributed to over 3,000,000 households!
Could a documentary pull the same number?
International Male was created by Gene Burkard in 1974 with the slogan “Freedom for Men,” even though it ended with the quip “Victoria Secrets for Men.” The clothing catalog, completely operated by women and gay men, blended high fashion with sultry, scantily clad bodies and blurred the lines between “masculine” and “feminine” men’s attire. It even birthed the jock sock. Google it now.
International Male ran in print from 1974 until 2007 before moving completely to digital. While distributed in glossy paper format to subscribers, its influence resulted in over $10,000,000 in sales. Doing some math, aka searching online, that means at its peak in the 90’s it was raking in about $37,000,000 annually by today’s standards.
I can’t imagine how many gay awakenings Burkard’s invention spawned over its first 30 years in business. During the 80’s especially, hello American Horror Story: New York, attitudes towards the LGBT community weren’t very friendly due to religion, politics and the start of the AIDS crisis. I’m sure there were hundreds of men who were too embarrased, ashamed or scared to pick up a smut magazine, so they grabbed the latest issue of International Male instead. And for that, we thank you.
Luckily, the lasting legacy of the fashion catalog is being highlighted in a new documentary that’s killing in the film festival circuit. The 84-minute doc, All Man: The International Male Story, comes from filmmakers Bryan Darling and Jesse Finley Reed. It features commentary from Matt Bomer, Carson Kressley, Steven Lyon and Tony Ward and takes a deep dive into the creation, continuation and lasting love from the people who owned it and did things with the thong pusher. And for that, we thank them!
All Man: The International Male Story is playing in select theaters and film festivals.
Peep the trailer below and run to the cinema if it’s playing near you. Or just wait until it drops on demand.