The protean Colby Keller

(About “mail art” and gay porn and playfulness.)

From Will Parsons on Google+ a little while back, a link to Colby Keller’s blog, with the comment:

+Arnold Zwicky, your art has a name!

The blog entry is about “mail art”; Will’s allusion is to my collages and my captioning of images from gay porn and male photography (which I then mail to friends, and sometimes post on one or another of my blogs).

Keller’s self-description on his Twitter account:

Artist, Blogger, Porn Star, Video Sexpert for Manhunt.Net’s Get In Bed with Colby Keller, I SEE PENIS aficionado. Baltimore.

I SEE PENIS refers to Keller’s enthusiasm for finding phallic images all over the place — an interest he and I share (see my many postings on “phallicity”).

On Keller’s work in gay porn and his sex advice for gay men, see the posting “Sex with Colby Keller” on AZBlogX.

Before I go on to “mail art”, some words on Keller’s physical appearance, which varies enormously. At one end of the scale, there’s the bushy-bearded, furry-bodied, long-haired redhead of my “Sexy St. Patrick’s” posting, seen here with his big dick suppressed:


[Important correction from Michael Palmer: “The redhead with the full beard in the St. Patrick’s Day ad at the top of your post isn’t Colby Keller, but James Jamesson, most commonly (perhaps exclusively) of the nextdoor studios franchise” (his blog here). Like Keller, Jamesson alters his appearance every so often, but he seems to stick to red hair.]

At the other end of the scale, there’s the geeky guy in the photo on Keller’s blog, with relatively short, dark brown hair, merely scruffy face, and lightly furred body (again with dick suppressed for WordPress):


(In real life, Keller sometimes does wear glasses — but not, I think, in his porn work.)

In between, there’s the intense Keller displaying his body (seen here from navel on up) on a publicity shot (full photo in “Easter Threesomes”):


And the amiable, short-haired, clean-shaven, barely furry Keller of this publicity photo:


One step on the route from hairy Keller to smooth Keller can be seen here in this photo (sent to me by Chris Ambidge):


(Ouch! Distinctly visible razor burn.)

Now to Keller’s entry “Fluxus fucks us” on his blog:

Bitch please. Fluxus NEVER dies!

At least according to Hungarian mail (male) art aficionado Peter Kupás, who sent me the follow Fluxus-esque fliers, filled with talking assholes and covered in stickers. If you’re unfamiliar, Fluxus was a neo-Dada “anti-art” movement of the 1960s founded by Lithuanian-born George Maciunas and based partially on the experimental compositions of queer composer John Cage. Artists such as Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik and Yoko Ono took part in Fluxus events and are associated with the movement.

“Mail art” first found headway in the Fluxus movement with artist Ray Johnson. The term New York Correspondance School, associated with Johnson’s work, came to characterize mail art (and yes, correspondance is intentionally misspelled). One piece, published in a 1971 edition of Arts Magazine, asked readers to alter an image of the proto-punk poet Arthur Rimbaud. Check out the “New” New York Correspondence School to see current examples.

Or simply consult the brilliant Peter Kupás himself HERE.

Three samples from Kupás can be viewed in “Mail art” on AZBlogX (the dicks and assholes make them unsuitable for WordPress).

On Fluxus:

Fluxus — a name taken from a Latin word meaning “flow, flux” (noun); “flowing, fluid” (adj.) — is an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines in the 1960s. They have been active in Neo-Dada noise music and visual art as well as literature, urban planning, architecture, and design. Fluxus is sometimes described as intermedia. (link)

And on mail art:

Mail art (also known as Postal art and Correspondence art) is a populist artistic movement centered around sending small scale works through the postal service. It initially developed out of the Fluxus movement in the 1950s and 60s, though it has since developed into a global movement that continues to the present. The American artist Ray Johnson is considered to be the first mail artist, and the New York Correspondence School that he developed is considered the first self-conscious network of mail artists.

Media commonly used in mail art include postcards, paper, a collage of found or recycled images and objects, rubber stamps, artist-created stamps (called artistamps), and paint, but can also include music, sound art, poetry, or anything that can be put in an envelope and sent via post. Mail art is considered art once it is dispatched. Mail artists regularly call for thematic or topical mail art for use in (often unjuried) exhibition.

The mail artist community values the interconnectedness of the participants and promotes an egalitarian ethos than frequently circumvents official art distribution and approval systems such as the art market, museums, and galleries. Mail artists rely on their network as the primary way of sharing their work, rather than being dependent on the ability to locate and secure exhibition space. The community embraces this outsider or alternative status, and refers to itself as “The Eternal Network” or just “The Network.” At its core, mail art is about interpersonal communication, exchange and the creation of a virtual community of participants. In this way, mail art can be seen as anticipating the cyber communities founded on the Internet. (link)

(My collaging and captioning are not, strictly speaking, mail art, because I’m not part of this network and mail things to only a few friends. I’ve also never incorporated cancellation marks into my works, though many mail artists do. See the samples available on the net, in Images for “mail art”. But what I do is close in spirit to mail art.)

From other postings on Keller’s blogs, a Cinco de Mayo number for this year, with this playful photo, entitled “Gay love for geeks”:


Don’t recognize the art in the background, but the book Keller is displaying (with the hedgehog and the fox on the cover) is Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine (ed. by Sina Najafi) — a book that (as a fellow admirer of Cabinet magazine) I happen to own.

And a posting with a penis-hugging Paper Colby — Keller calls it kokigami (for cock origami) — for you to make:


The kokigami was drawn by Canadian comic book artist and writer J. Bone (Wikipedia page here, his website here); Bone shares with Colby Keller an appreciation for scruffy men and men with big pecs, tastes that show up in his drawings, like this male pin-up:


One Response to “The protean Colby Keller”

  1. Pin-up boys | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] the humor is there): J. Bone, whose pin-up drawing of his character Josh appeared at the end of my posting on Colby Keller. Another image of (scruffy, big-pec’ed) Josh, this time confronting his twin in […]

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