Canada’s first international queer beefcake star, Hill was Mr. Montreal and Mr. Canada (1954) and a favorite model of Montreal physique photographer Alan B. Stone throughout the 1960s. Hill’s international appeal to pre-Stonewall gay men was based mostly on magazine spreads and black-and-white glossies, but he also delivered several immortal pump and pose performances on the St. Lawrence riverfront for Stone’s Super 8 softcore shorts, unfortunately never well distributed. Ironically his motion picture charisma lingers most accessibly in a scene from our homophobic state studio’s snarky fitness documentary, I Was a Ninety-pound Weakling (Georges Dufaux, Wolf Koenig, NFB,1960, 24). The bodybuilder takes the oblivious filmmakers on a rather static tour of the Billy Hill Gym in what is now the heart of Montreal’s Village gai and stiffly twitches his magnificent muscles for himself in the mirror and for the camera. If you look hard, the location’s function as a covert nexus of gay community networks, is evident on the screen, an all male landscape of bared skin and bulging torsos, proud display and covert looks, and especially the long and charismatic shot of magnificent Billy himself, who despite his forced smile and slight cross-eye clearly loves being worshipped.
Montreal , QC