Two books of male photography

(This posting alludes to some male-male sexual practices — given the content of the books, that could scarcely be avoided — but in measured language rather than street talk, in accord with the tones of the books, one deeply sexy but sweet, the other not especially sexy but funny. Use your judgment.)

Arrived together a few days ago, two books of (sort of) male photography, where male photography is photography with a homoerotic slant. Sort of in one case because the book goes way beyond a homoerotic slant to explicit gay porn, sort of in the other case because the book alludes to images of men soliciting sex with other men and has a gay sensibility (manifested in its wry take on things: it’s intended to be funny, and it’s hilarious) but is focused elsewhere, on interior decoration as practiced by (non-professional) men.

The first is a product of the CockyBoys porn studio: Sixty Nine: Joyful Gay Sex (Bruno Gmünder, 2015) by photographers RJ Sebastian & Jake Jaxson. The second is the work of photographer and cultural critic (among other things) Justin Jorgensen: Obscene Interiors: Hardcore Amateur Décor (Baby Tattoo Books, 2004). What unites them is their association with artist and gay pornstar Colby Keller; my 2/2 posting on Keller has a section on Jorgensen and a section on CockyBoys.

Sixty Nine. A big book (13.4 x 10.2 x 0.8 in.) on thick stock, primarily featuring lush photos (in relatively soft focus) celebrating men having joyous, affectionate sex with one another. Anal intercourse — and there’s a huge amount of it in this book — has never looked so good.

(#1)

(That’s a grinning Levi Karter playfully licking a foot.)

Accompanying the photos are seven pieces of romantic short fiction about sexual encounters between men. In order:

We Will Always Have Paris, We Watched Ourselves in the Mirror, Naked in the Woods, The Blue Chair, We Wanted to Love and be Loved, Sex on a Sunday, A Fire Island Love Story

The sex is hot, but suffused by love.

Two photos of Karter (on the left in both) with a taller, rougher-looking  (but still loving) Ricky Roman on Fire Island:

(#2)

(#3)

That’s the good stuff. Then the annoying things: the pages aren’t numbered; hence, there can be no table of contents or index; nowhere that I can see are the author(s) of the short fiction identified; the actors in the photos aren’t identifed either (I can pick out Karter and Roman by their tattoos, and I recognize a few other actors because they are favorites of mine, but that wouldn’t work for most people). At least, the Acknowledgments page at the back of the book lists them all:

Pierre Fitch, Ricky Roman, Levi Karter, Tayte Hanson, Justin Matthews, Rafael Alencar, Max Carter, Levi Michaels, Chris Harder. Jaxon Radoc, Jake Bass, Darius Ferdynand, Gabriel Clark, David Corey, Dillon Rossi, Jasper Robinson, Duncan Black, Seth Santoto

Many of them are young (and impudent) and some of them are twinks, but far from all the guys who perform for the studio are boys or boyish.

Obscene Interiors. (Photos in my Colby Keller posting.)  Jorgensen’s inspired idea was to take photos of men that they distribute to solicit sex with other men (I say this carefully, because many of these men don’t identify as gay or bisexual) and focus not on the way these men pose their bodies but on the way they have decorated the spaces they live in. To this end, he replaced the images of bodies with solid gray outlines.

(Note: in many cases, it’s still possible to figure out how they’re displaying themselves. Some of then are clearly showing off their erect penises, others are offering their buttocks (in quite a range of ways), and some probably have neither of these foci of man-man sex exposed, but are open to negotiation.)

In his introduction, Jorgensen frames his central question:

How do we create a space that communicates our ideals of masculinity while simultaneously storing our possessions and displaying our interests? How do we make that same space appeal to our mates? In other words, how do we decorate? The answer: not very well.

Now, surely a fair number of guys soliciting men for sex identify as gay or bisexual, but there’s no evidence in this book that they have any more taste in decorating than other men. We still get clashing colors, regrettably chosen and placed art, odd accumulations of objects, truly ugly or overly fussy furniture, things bizarrely (or dangerously) placed on the top of other things, and so on.

The fact is that men get virtually no preparation in these matters. They decorate spaces that they have reserved for themselves (a number illustrated in Jorgensen’s book), creating dens and mancaves, with wood panelling, the symbols and materials of hunting, fishing, sports, automobile racing, and/or golf, maybe some gym equipment, and plenty of cool electronics and computer games — plus a workshop where they can make things with their tools. These are high-masculinity spaces, places where masculinity is displayed, but also spaces defined by their exclusion of women and their rejection of femininity.  Otherwise, women do most of the decorating.

And so you get to extreme examples, like the one on p. 32, which Jorgensen describes as

proving masculinity by not even attempting anything that could be considered decorating.

I wonder if it ever happens that two guys hook up on-line, one guy goes to the other guy’s place, takes it in says, “I really want to do you in the worst way, but I can’t possibly have sex in a room that looks like this.” Maybe not; urgent desire could probably override almost any degree of good taste.

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