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Gay In Antwerp In 1950? You Read 'Muscles'

By Andrew Belonsky

The post-World War II era saw a notable swell in the bodybuilding subculture. It was, academics say, part of the world's coping process: perfecting bodies to gloss over deeper imperfections so hideously revealed during the second war to end all wars.

Without getting into the nitty-gritty, brainiac theories, which though very interesting detract from the meat of the genre, the men, know this: In Europe this culture centered mostly in France and Germany, but there was also a small but determined movement in Belgium, where enthusiasts came together as La Fédération Belge de Culture Physique (the Belgian Federation of Physical Culture).

The de facto leader of this movement was a man named Henri Garsou, who in 1946 began publishing Muscles magazine, one of the many brawny journals that popped up in this era, but the only one to be based in Belgium, specifically Andrimont, about 90 minutes Southwest Southeast of Antwerp.

For over two decades Muscles delivered the finest, most toned bodies around, including genre superstars like Phil Granuchi and Dick Dubois, both of whom are seen below. Though they weren't explicitly gay, or even meant for gay audiences, you can be sure that if you were gay in Antwerp between 1946 and 1969 you at least encountered, and spent significant time drooling over, Muscles magazine, and other images Garsou published through his studio Europhoto.

The magazine ran until 1969, the year Garsou drowned to death. Extant copies are few and far between and digital records are at least for now scattered and incomplete, but for those of you wanting to know how our forefathers were getting their kicks, here's a smattering of images of various Muscles.

CLICK TO SEE MORE MUSCLES

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1950, 1952:

 

1957:

 

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1958:

 

1958:

 

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1964:

 

1965:

 

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1964:

 

1967:

 

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