Male beauty

A follow-up to my 2/18/16 posting “Ben, advertising” about Curbwear model Ben (with four photos on him in briefs), a man I was much taken with, and it now turns out that he has quite a following, among people who praise him for his “male beauty”, citing his handsome face, gorgeous eyes, and hot body (sometimes also his cool hair, beautiful smile, or notable bulge). Since the photos in the earlier posting showed an unsmiling (but not challenging or threatening) Ben, after a little background I’ll give three photos of him smiling (and shirtless and looking athletic) and go on to analyze his male beauty and compare him to some other beautiful men, of several types.

Ben — Ben Riches (aka Ben Hunt) — is now officially The Face of Curbwear, under an exclusive contract with the company, which means that he appears all over their advertising . The company specializes in the sexy, the outrageous, and the decidedly gay-oriented, but unlike many firms with that profile their models are not presented in a stud-hustler persona; instead they are mostly amiable, fit and athletic, young men, with Ben Riches as the prototype.

Ben in three smiling photos, shirtless, looking athletic:


Ben, not in briefs for a change, waving a trophy


Featuring Ben’s smile and his upper body


Ben flexing for the camera, showing his lean muscular body, and a serious bulge

(As far as I known, this is as close as Ben gets to nude photos or more overt penis display. He’s photographed apparently out and abroad in London in nothing but Curbwear briefs, but that’s as outrageous as he gets.)

Ben’s widow’s peak and neat beard frame a heart-shaped face (a shape usually taken to be feminine), and he has big, beautiful eyes (again, a feminine attribute), but the man has masculine hair, that beard, and a neat mustache, and his hair is dark rather than blond, so he’s decidedly masculine, and also not boyish (much less feminine): a beautiful man.

References to male beauty usually focus on beautiful male faces, and there are collections of facial photos. In these collections, the young Brad Pitt, especially smiling, is a famous beautiful man, and he also had a beautiful body and a strongly masculine physicality in motion. My 8/6/13 posting, “Seven Supermen and Brad Pitt”,  has a section on Pitt with two shirtless photos: #12 the beautiful boyish man from Thelma and Louise, #13 Pitt in training for Fight Club, bulking up, though still with a beautiful face. Then in a 2/29/16 posting, “Four mythic hunks”, we see Pitt hugely bulked up for the part of Achilles in the movie Troy, in three photos (#4-6, the third shirtless), into a much rougher presentation of himself, with a handsome face, but not a beautiful one.

For some people, Robert Redford as Sundance in the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is the model of facial male beauty. A close-up of him in this role:


A beautiful face, and blond hair as well. His mustache serves as a masculine counterweight to the beauty of his face. Here’s Redford side-by-side with Paul Newman as Butch:


Both very good-looking men with strongly masculine physical presences, but Newman is more on the rugged side, Redford more on the beautiful side.

A more recent actor often nominated as a model of male beauty is Robert Pattinson, who came to fame in the role of the vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight series of movies. My 4/3/13 posting “scruffilicious” has two maximally contrasting (though both lightly scruffy-faced) photos of Pattinson: darkly (bad-boy) beautiful in the seventh photo in that posting, broadly smiling beautiful in the eighth. Then Pattinson plays the central character in the movie Bel Ami:


From Wikipedia:

Bel Ami is a 2012 drama film starring Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci and Colm Meaney. The film is directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod and is based on the 1885 French novel of the same name by Guy de Maupassant.

Now several Bel Ami digressions,

the first on the expression bel ami, an Adj + N phrase, with the masc. N ami as head. The N ami (fem. counterpart: amie) translates most neutrally as ‘friend’, but depending on context it can refer to a buddy / mate, or to a boyfriend.

The masc. sg. Adj beau (fem. counterpart: belle) translates as ‘beautiful, handsome, good-looking, pretty (as in pretty boy)’ or in an extended  sense just ‘nice’;  beau has the variant bel before a vowel-initial N, hence bel ami rather than beau ami.

The combination bel ami is idiomatic, in that it doesn’t normally refer to good looks in a male friend, but instead to that friend’s niceness or to the closeness of the friendship. Typical neutral translations are ‘fine / nice / good / close friend’; or if the friendship is romantic or sexual, ‘boyfriend’ (usable by both women and gay men). Beyond that, the phrase can be used ironically or sarcastically, conveying something like ‘scoundrel’ — and indeed the usual translation of the novel’s name is The History of a Scoundrel.

bel ami ‘pretty boy’. Unlike the examples above (and the ones to follow after these digressions), there are styles of male beauty that  feature adolescents (or those who look like adolescents) sometimes referred to as pretty boys: smooth-faced, smooth-bodied, young-looking, with a boyish rather than rugged face (“weak” chin, large eyes), slim rather than muscular bodies, “soft” rather than “tough” presentation, attentive to grooming and men’s fashion, unaggressive, playful. This is pretty much the Twink Package, but real-life twinks are in fact very variable, and a fair number of them have beautiful, rather than pretty, male faces, while pretty boys are, well, pretty.

A Korean pretty boy from a tv series:


More Bel Ami! From Wikipedia:

Bel Ami …, also known as Pretty Boy, and Pretty Man, is a South Korean romantic comedy television series starring Jang Keun-suk, IU, Lee Jang-woo and Han Chae-young. Based on the same-titled 17-volume manhwa [Korean comic, and cartoon, also animated cartoon] by Chon Kye-young, it aired on KBS2 from November 20, 2013 to January 9, 2014 … for 16 episodes …. Dokgo Ma-te (Jang Keun-suk) is a pretty boy.

(Korean names get variously represented in English spelling; Jang Keun-suk also appears as Jong Geun Suk, though both versions have the family name first.)

Still more Bel Ami, this time for gay porn slanted towards the twinkish. From Wikipedia:

BelAmi is a gay pornographic film studio with offices in Bratislava, Prague and Budapest. It was established in 1993 by filmmaker George Duroy, a Slovak native who took his pseudonym from the protagonist Georges Duroy in Guy de Maupassant’s novel Bel Ami.

The intention in the name of the studio seems to have been to play on beau/bel referring to male beauty — the studio specializes in beautiful young men, who are framed as being considerably younger than they actually are — and on bel ami ‘boyfriend’ (the characters are presented as being each other’s boyfriends, who can then be fantasized by gay male viewers as being theirs). From a 4/28/11: AZBlogX posting “Lukas and Johan (and Chance)”:

Bel Ami is the world of Gayboys’ Dreamtime — of adolescent companionship, buddy-play, and incandescent horniness. This world is especially well portrayed in An American in Prague, a big Bel Ami hit whose main story line has an American hunk, Chance, visiting Johan [Paulik] in Prague while getting ready to do a porn shoot there and being taken on a four-day tour of gay-sexual Prague. Their scenes together are full of adolescent horseplay as well as hot sex. (A bonus disc has an assortment of backstage scenes, including a delightful one of the two stars goofing off in bed, with a lot of playful talk about their dicks; King Missile’s “Detachable Penis” figures prominently.)

On Johan Paulik, who was the studio’s first big star and (under this name) in some sense the embodiment of the studio’s ideal, from Wikipedia:

Johan Paulik (born [Daniel Ferenčík] 14 March 1975) is the stage name of a Slovak former gay pornographic model. In 2000, he was inducted into the GayVN Hall of Fame with Lukas Ridgeston and George Duroy, owner of Bel Ami, the studio Paulik worked for his entire career. In 2002, Paulik became general manager for Bel Ami in Europe.


Yet another beautiful man, not really a pretty boy, but certainly more twinkish than his acting colleague and near-contemporary Lukas Ridgeston, seen here in an early photo:


A strikingly beautiful man, closer to muscle boy than classic twink (and he became more muscular as he aged).

Almost all the Bel Ami actors are straightforwardly G4P (gay for pay). This is the case for the actor who plays Johan, despite his having spent virtually all of his working life in the gay porn business (as actor, director, and now business manager). The actir who plays Lukas, exceptionally, is cagey about identifiying his sexuality.

In any event, the Bel Ami films are chock full of boyish playfulness. I recently watched Mating Season (Bel Ami, 2006), featuring a crew of boys on bikes in the Slovakian countrside, with lots of adolescent horsing around, but also with an appetite for tons of enthusiastic mansex.

Four more beautiful men. Now, out of the world of bel ami and back to male beauty in mainstream actors. Some time ago I had the opportunity to consult two authorities on this world: two teenage girls. My deep thanks to Maggie and Opal, who pretty quickly nominated four men, starting with one who seems to have some fame as a man with a perfect beautiful face, Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester in the tv show Supernatural). In my 8/20/13 posting “Five television hunks”, you can see Ackles in #5; Jared Padalecki (playing his brother Sam Winchester) in #4; and the two paired in #7, where you can compare their faces. My consultabts say that Padalecki is really cute, but Ackles is beautiful.

Next up: Johnny Depp, seen here in a head shot:


Depp was a teen idol in the tv show 21 Jump Street and then a great commercial success in the Pirates of the Carbibbean movies, while taking on a very wide range of other roles.

Then Orlando Bloom in a head shot:


Bloom is most famous as the elf Legolas in the Lord of the Ring trilogy of movies.

Finally, actor and fashion model Richard Grieco, shown here as a beautiful bad boy in 21 Jump Street:


2 Responses to “Male beauty”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Note on the Bel Ami porn film Mating Season, which has a bunch of boys on bikes in the Slovakian countryside: there’s a section with what’s probably a record-long serial fellatio episode, as another guy takes on (I think) ten of the boys, one by one; as each guy gets serviced outside a men’s room, he reports back to his buddies on the fellator’s remarkable talents and sends a buddy out to enjoy the experience.

  2. Horu Says:

    I just would like to point out that the Korean style as in the pic above actually stems from a Japanese indies scene called Visual Kei. They basically copied Visual Kei aesthetics and gave it a more mainstream approach to make it more markeatable to big audiences.

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