Fun Outdoors Pictorial, Autumn, 1937, Vol. 1, No. 1
This magazine is the first, and possibly the only, edition of an American pictorial magazine called ‘Fun Outdoors’, published in 1937. It primarily features photographs of women taking part in sporting and outdoor activities that were generally thought of as the male preserve, such as boxing, wrestling, shooting and car mechanics. The narrator’s voice in the captions appears male, addressing readers in a tone that is humorous but patronising towards women. Although this suggests a male target audience, it is not entirely clear whether the magazine was aimed at a male or female audience. Several of the articles and stories seem to be genuinely encouraging female participation in sport, whereas others are blatantly using such activities as an excuse to feature scantily clad women in suggestive poses. Some pay conspicuous attention to women’s fashions and focus on androgynous, tomboy, or ‘mannish’ styles and cross-dressing. A double-page spread entitled ‘Tomboy Frolics’, for example, shows women dressed in mannish clothes, climbing trees or cavorting together in the hay. A caption reads, ‘in case you don’t know, an aviation helmet, riding boots and an opera cape are all the rage for riding fences’. A fictional piece entitled, ‘Pretty Pinky Totes the Pigskin’ features a female film star, with cropped hair and a low, husky voice, who is persuaded by her promoter to infiltrate a male football team by disguising herself as a man. Male physique or ‘Beefcake’ magazines were published in the United States from the 1930s onwards. Though they were presented as magazines dedicated to the encouragement of fitness and healthy outdoor living they were primarily aimed at, and read by, gay men interested in admiring partially nude male bodies. The focus was on weightlifting, bodybuilding, boxing and wrestling, as part of which male bodies could be represented making physical contact. After the decriminalisation of homosexuality the magazines were more overtly marketed to a gay male audience. Though the contribution these magazines have made to queer culture and style has been well documented, there is little information about physique magazines that featured women.