Mike Miksche’s (aka Steve Masters) story is a tragic one. Perpetually closeted, the flight captain turned fashion illustrator’s first contact with a gay man came in the military, when one of his flight crew expressed his undying love for the he-man. When he returned to civilian life, he was enlisted by famed sex researcher Alfred Kinsey to perform in S&M films with masochist Sam Steward. While turning out fashion advertisements in his early career, Miksche began experimenting with erotic art, producing images of hyper-masculine, tattooed men in S&M scenarios under the pseudonym Steve Masters (SM). Miksche was a tortured soul, and in 1965, after an extensive battle with depression, he died of an overdose. In the wake of his death, Miksche’s wife discovered his collection of erotic drawings, many of which were published in BIG magazine, and she destroyed what remained of this fascinating collection. What remains of his work is housed at the Kinsey Institute and the Leather Archives and Museum.
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