The side display

About presentations of the male body (so not to everyone’s taste) — in this case, in a side display: a standing posture, posed so that the display focuses on the model’s face and bare buttocks (everything else is lagniappe), as in Richard Vytniorgu’s 2018 Christmas card (the work of a professional photographer, reproduced here with permission):


(#1) Greetings from a queer jockstrap Christmas elf!

Both parts of the display — the facial expression and what it might convey, the buttocks and the reason(s) for their display — are significant.

Here, Richard is flashing an amiable open-mouthed smile and gazing directly into the viewer’s eyes, conveying friendly openness. (Some other choices: a wryly modest smile, inscrutable neutrality, guardedness, dominance.) And he’s framed his naked buttocks in a jockstrap (which sets them apart from the rest of his body, accentuating them), rather than presenting them covered by clothing (underwear, swimwear, shorts, jeans, trousers) or by exposing them fully unclothed: expressing either their attractiveness (he’s literally framed his twink-butt, or twink-ass, for our viewing) or signaling that his butt is in principle available for sex (only in principle: the display merely says “I’m a bottom”, not “I want you to fuck me”), or of course both.

The buttocks on display in #1 are cute boy-butts, though there are other possibilities, familiar to enthusiasts of the male buttocks: large bubble butts, flat Irish butts, knotted muscular jock butts, kidney-shaped butts, and so on. To a large degree, however, you get what nature gave you; facial expressions have a wide emotional range, but buttocks are mostly emotionally inexpressive.

Still, the choice to display your naked buttocks is significant, and can be read in more than one way. On the one hand, it’s a display of vulnerability, not unlike the pitsntits display, and so reads as a gesture of openness and trust, or even submissiveness — even more in that the buttocks can be viewed as a metonym for the anus, subject to sexual intrusion. On the other hand, since it’s transgressive and implicates the anus metonymically, you can read it as aggressive and insulting, as a muted form of mooning (expressing protest, scorn, disrespect, or provocation, or done for shock value, fun, or as a form of exhibitionism, to paraphrase the Wikipedia site; see my 11/7/18 posting “Arousing the beast”).

All this is about how viewers might interpret a side display like the one in #1. There’s also the question of why such displays (whether the buttocks are clothed, framed by a jock or thong, or completely  unclothed) are created and disseminated. At least four possibilities:

they are art works — specifically, male photography — intended as explorations of and celebrations of the male body (the actual intention of #1)

they are parts of an ad campaign for the clothing involved (in the case of a display like #1, a jockstrap ad) — intended to sell clothing via pictures of attractive and desirable men

they are from porn (gay porn or beefcake for women) — intended to sexually arouse viewers, or to sell films or videos for that purpose

they are sexual advertisements, hook-up (or cruising) photos — intended to attract sexual partners via distribution in hard copy or on-line

(Nothing says that a particular representation can’t end up serving more than one function, whatever the intentions of its creator.)

Background. Richard is a young academic, a literary scholar, who appeared in that guise on this blog on the 24th, in my posting “Seasonal thanks”, where the photo from his website (fully clothed, but nevertheless engaging) appeared as image #3 there; I commented:

A further note: it’s ok if you judge Richard in #3 to be cute; the photo was designed to frame him as an amiable (and approachable) twink. Portraits express personas, and twink is one of Richard’s personas; the intensely engaged scholar is another.

In #1, Richard has stepped out of his academic role (as an authority on modernist figures in English literature) and slipped into his persona as an affectionate twink bottom-boy. A bold move, but then is #1 really any odder than Christmas cards in which people pose with the gear of their favorite sport (surfing, skiing, hockey, whatever), or with an assemblage of their beloved pets, or on holiday in some exotic spot they finally got to go to? Photo Christmas cards are portraits, and (as I say above) portraits express personas. Adorable fairy is a persona, one that’s quite important to Richard (and one I enjoy observing), so why not work it into a greeting card?

Very soon, I’ll get back to side displays, but while I’m on personas, here are three photos from Richard’s portfolio, showing some of the complexity in the presentation of self. Two face shots, one presenting him as serious and reflective:

(#2)

and one as invitingly boyish:

(#3)

And one full shot that combines the thoughtful and the playful:

(#4)

Two albums of butt-cheek side displays. Photos that display naked butt cheeks, in two albums: completely unclothed buttocks, from gay porn; and guys in jockstraps, from the Jockstrap Central site. The things to note are the variation in the form of the buttocks and the variation in the facial expressions.

On the gay porn beat. I’ll start with my least naked example, from one of my favorite gay pornstars, Dean Phoenix. Shown here in the woods, wearing a t-shirt, but naked below; and smiling broadly:

(#5)

Phoenix is frankly gay, preferentially a top with a thing for twinks as partners. His porn persona is also very amiable — he smiles a lot — and attentive to his partner’s needs. He’s muscular but not beefy, with pretty much a median pornstar body, all over.

Then a more modest smile (not just the mouth, but the eyes as well, from Owen Michaels, who has a bubble butt:

(#6)

Side displays from pornstars most commonly are D&A shots (which I can’t show here, because of the penises); they’re also largely from men advertising that their asses are on the table, and a fair number of these men are twinks (smaller, more slender, blonder, etc. pornstars are customarily pigeonholed as bottoms).

Two pornstars posed with more neutral, but still inviting, facial expressions. First, Rod Phillips, who flourished in the late 1980s. Lithe, mostly a bottom, with a beautiful ass:

(#7)

Then, Brandon Jones, described by Lucas Studios as an “insatiable power-bottom”, generally muscular but not beefy, with an especially notable ass:

(#8)

Then two beefier men with challenging expressions, conveying something like “Are you man enough to take this butt?”. The tightly muscled bubble-butted Aymeric DeVille:

(#9)

And one of the truly huge, an unidentified model in my 4/22/12 posting “Bookends”:

(#10)

On the jockstrap beat. Four jockstrap shots in which (as is very common in this genre) an unsmiling model fails to make eye contact with the viewer (one beefy model, in #14):

(#11)

(#12)

(#13)

(#14)

And one with both eye contact and a half smile with one raised eyebrow (plus a really butch vinyl jockstrap) — an invitation:

(#15)

Other presentations. For standing body shots, the side display is the most complex: a twist of the model’s body allows combination of a facial shot from a straightforward front display with a butt shot from a straightforward rear display. (Many illustrations of front displays and rear displays on AZBlogX and this blog.)

There are, of course, also horizontal body shots, with the model lying either in a supine display (face up, presenting the front surface of his body), or in a prone dislay (face down, presenting the rear surface of his body), or in a lateral display (lying on one side), with either the front or the rear surface of his body facing the camera. With a number of variants having to do with how the model positions his legs. (Some illustrations on AZBlogX and this blog, with some new ones, of Richard Vytniorgu, to come.)

There are more complex ways of presenting the body to the camera (and the viewer), but these are the displays you’ll find most often. What they provide is different ways of making three focal points available to the viewer: the face, and the two primary foci of male sexuality, the penis (and the testicles accompanying it) and the buttocks (and the anus within them).

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