Bodily alignment

(The X-rated images are on AZBlogX, but, still, there’s some plain talk about male-male sex here, so probably not for kids or the sexually modest.)

It starts on AZBlogX, with a posting “The T-formation blowjob”, taking off from a Bound Gods image (#1 there) illustrating the pleasures of bondage, submission, and humiliation, but viewed on my blog primarily for the carefully aligned bodies of the two men engaged in a complex sexual act: the submissive, bound and gagged, man entirely vertical, including his hard cock, the dominant man (edging him) leaning over at right angles to him, making a visual T. A similar T-formation blowjob appears in #2 there, in a carefully posed scene (from gay porn) of group sex, with its central feature a fellated man (again making a strong vertical) aligned at right angles to his fellator (bent over at his task), with two flanking men (nearly vertical) serving as bookends, so to speak.

The larger topic is the alignment of bodies in photography, painting, and drawing: alignment to one another and to features of the physical context, and the direction of gazes in these scenes.

The AZBlogX series continues (#4) with another scene from that gay porn flick (Packed Raw, focused on bareback sex): “Another carefully posed shot of the same men, with verticals, horizontals, and … nicely parallel angled bodies in [a] central fuck shot”.

And it then continues with a second Bound Gods ad, another formal composition: “[the submissive] is bound on his hands and knees in the pi (or ∏) position, while [the dominant]’s body is similarly disposed but in a standing position. The idea is that [the dominant]’s body matches [the submissives]’s, so that [the dominant] will fit perfectly into [the submissive]” in fucking him.

Formal compositions of this sort are all over art and photography and are often commented on at length in analyses of particular works. Homoerotically inclined works are no exception, and works intended frankly as pornographic are no exception either. Note that publicity shots for gay porn are almost never screenshots, but are instead images set up by the photographer (often images that have little to do with the movies in question); in this situation, porn photographers act just like male photographers in general, and structure the alignment of bodies to one another, the alignment of bodies (singly or in groups) to the physical context, and the alignment of gazes. (All of this can of course be done artfully or clumsily.)

Just look at the many examples of male photography that have come up on this blog. Or consider two homoerotically inclined painters with a particular interest in male bathers (this is a surprisingly crowded field, about as crowded as the world of artists and photograhers with a particular interest in locker rooms / changing rooms):

Henry Scott Tuke, British, 1858-1929: a bathing group from 1914:


Georges Paul Le Roux, French, 1877-1957: Bathing in the Tiber in Rome:


Both paintings have a central standing figure (a strong vertical, in the case of #2 mirroring many things in the context) with a subsidiary crouching figure gazing up at the central figure (in the case of #1, with the second figure’s back parallel to the central figure’s bent knee.

There’s a lot more to be said about these two paintings — about the central figure’s arms and buttocks, the position of his feet, and the role of fabric in the compositions, for instance — but this will do for a start, and it goes beyond the obvious observation that both painters were taken by the bodies of young men.

Addendum: on Facebook, Rod Williams notes the most famous counterpart to these two paintings, Thomas Eakins’s The Swimming Hole:


On Eakins’s paintings (and photographs) of male nudes and of men swimming, rowing, boxing, and wrestling, see John Esten’s Thomas Eakins: The Absolute Male (2002).

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