Paul Octavious

A gift today from Maggie Ainsworth-Darnell: a great big poster version of this steamy photo, folded up in a recent release of the game Cards Against Humanity:

(#1) Kiss 2017 – Paul Octavious x Cards Against Humanity

Maggie decided immediately that this had to go to me; she knows my tastes — it’s not just a kiss, but a same-sex kiss, in fact between men, and, for lagniappe, interracial, and also a male recasting of a lesbian kiss in a famous 2002 poster by UK photographer Tanya Chalkin (1971-2018):


Background: the game. From Wikipedia:


Cards Against Humanity is a party game in which players complete fill-in-the-blank statements using words or phrases typically deemed as offensive, risqué or politically incorrect printed on playing cards. It has been compared to the Apples to Apples card game, originated from a Kickstarter campaign, and has received media acclaim. Its title references the phrase “crimes against humanity”, reflecting its politically incorrect content. [first release May 2011]

Background: Paul Octavious and the poster. @pauloctavious (“A New England Jamaican living in Chicago”) on  Instagram 9/27/17:

(#4) The artist in repose (photo by Ryan Lowry)

When I was in college, you couldn’t pass a room on my floor without seeing this poster. You know the one I’m talking about…the one with two women making out in their underwear titled “The Kiss.” [#2 above] It’s a beautiful image and will forever remind me of the band TATU (ahhh memories). However, as a closeted gay man at the time, it always made me a little sad. Not the image itself but the fact that every time I looked at it, all I could think was that an image of two guys in the same pose would be considered gross, or likely not even allowed in the dorm. As my four years progressed through college, this poster haunted me with those thoughts. That sadness. . Years have passed since I last thought about that poster. Then something happened, it was as if my dreams for closeted freshman Paul were about to come true! Cards Against Humanity asked me if I’d recreate this image by Tanya Chalkin for a new generation as they’d turn my image into a poster and include in a Cards Against Humanity College Pack! [#1 above] They had no idea about the back story I had with the image and I couldn’t believe I’d get to finally make it my way! Sooo we made it and boy did we make it! 😉 .

Background within background: t.a.T.u. The duo mentioned by Octavious. From Wikipedia:

(#5) Julia and Lena, on an exceptionally modest (for them) album cover

t.A.T.u. were a Russian music duo [active 1999-2011] that consisted of Lena Katina and Julia Volkova. The duo was managed by Russian television producer Ivan Shapovalov while in the group Neposedy…
The duo established their world success with their debut English-language single “All the Things She Said”, which gained acclaim from music journalists and critics. The video of the single, however, generated controversy worldwide, showing the girls kissing in the rain in school uniforms.

Background: Paul Octavious the artist. On the Great Discontent site, a 5/2/14 interview by Tina Essmaker with the artist, with this brief summary:

Paul Octavious is a Chicago-based photographer and designer. He has done work for Nike, WiredPrint, the Wall Street Journal, Mercedes, Hermès, and the New York Times, among others. His work has been featured by the New Yorker, the New York TimesswissmissHuffington Post, the Paris Review, and The Fox Is Black.

What follows is a detailed account of the stages in Octavious’s career.

Some Octavious works. Hard to choose from the wide variety of his works (many playful or gay-inflected or both), but here are four:

A vivid hybrid fruit, a waterapple or pinemelon:

(#6) “Twotti Frutti No. 1” (2005)  — note punning title

From the series ResHue Dogs (more punning) for PAWS, a Chicago non-profit that places rescued dogs:

(#7) A magically multicolored mutt

From the Lean With It series, showing trees that have grown at steep angles, with people leaning precipitously parallel to them:

(#8) A summer scene, Impressionist in feeling (there’s a winter counterpart)

And from the Book Collection series, of witty constructions made up of Octavious’s books:

(#9) “Bookbow” (book + rainbow), a Pride rainbow of books


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