This photograph of the Liverpool band, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, was taken by Liverpudlian photographer John Stoddart in the 1980s. This signed print was produced in 2008.
The band are dressed in clothes associated with leather culture, a form of fetish wear that originated in the 1940s and soon became associated with hyper-masculinity and Bondage, Domination and Sado-Masochism (BDSM). Leather culture fetish wear relies heavily upon dark leather and silver, and leathermen often wear a combination of leather jackets, trousers, waistcoats, harnesses, hoods and masks.
“This is the antifeminine side of homosexuality," (Bill Ruquy, owner of a leather bar, Time Magazine, 26 June 1964)
By the 1980s, when this photograph was taken, the leather subculture had spread across the world. Today there is an International Mr. Leather competition, Leather Pride events and even a Leather Pride flag.
Frankie Goes To Hollywood became infamous when their first single, ‘Relax’ was banned by the BBC in 1983 for it’s overtly sexual lyrics and homoerotic video which was set in a gay BDSM club populated by Leathermen and drag queens.
“Frankie were a damn sight more subversive than any contemporary rock band. An undercurrent (indeed an overcurrent) of kinky sado-masochism runs through the films, which feature, in no particular order, male orgies, horny tigers, American and Russian presidents grabbing each other's crotches and fat naked men wrestling. As a presentation of homosexual liberation, it makes Freddie Mercury look about as risque as Bruce Springsteen.” – James Griffiths, The Guardian, 18 July 2003