The Ecstasy of St. Atlas

(Much about men’s bodies and sex between men, in plain language — not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

An ad on my Facebook page yesterday, with (as caption) its teaser copy:

(#1) Now selling the Cellblock 13 Atlas Jockstrap / Harness at If you are looking for a light-weight, affordable elastic harness and jock then check out this all new product

The model’s body and face, the (bulldog) harness, and the jockstrap are all hot (in my view as an appreciator of the underwear ad genre). But then the lines the harness and jockstrap form in the photographer’s composition make for a pleasing abstract composition on their own. And the model’s posture, his gestures, and his facial expression are all satisfyingly packed with allusions to art, both high art and popular art.

Background: the presentation of the model. The model (call him C.B., for Cellblock) presents himself as a high-macho muscle-stud — a very common presentation for underwear models. He’s clearly a serious bodybuilder (just look at the enormous biceps and triceps, and the deep inguinal creases) and has fashioned his face as butch (neat masculine mustache and short beard in a scruffy face; short hair).

But the messages of C.B.’s body are complex, in part because Cellblock 13 presents itself as a queer and fetish-oriented brand. To affirm that message, C.B. is wearing very conspicuous earrings.

Even more strikingly, you’d expect a serious bodybuilder to have astounding abs, and C.B. surely has them, but they’ve been smoothed over by the photographer — presumably as part of the project to assemble references to art; world-class abs would have detracted from that program, so they’ve been made much less obtrusive.

The model’s stance is a strongly opposed contrapposto posture, with one leg raised, and with hips and shoulders slanted in opposition to one another. The opposite angling of the upper body and the lower body causes the straps of the homowear to form two Ts: a top one (sharply angled down across the model’s chest) with an underarm strap as its cross stroke; and a lower one (slightly angled up across the model’s hips) with the hip strap as its cross stroke)

Background: the nature of the jockstrap. The full ad copy:

The Cellblock13’s Atlas Jockstrap is the perfect combination of sport jock, fetish jock and fashion jock and possibly CB13’s most comfortable jocks to date with a naturally contoured soft viscose pouch with a hint of spandex for shape expansion and retention. It’s also has four-way stretch to accommodate most guys.  Pair this jock with the matching Atlas harness (sold separately) for a complete look.  Features a contrast stripe down the center as well as contrast piping on the edges of the pouch.  CB13 rubberized logo is centered on front waistband. 95% Viscose 5% Spandex. Contrast piping: blue, red, grey, army green.

The straps as elements of the jockstraps — waistband and pouch stripe — and the constituents of the harnesses are all black, and the contrast piping in #1 is grey, as close to black as possible. So the garments are macho black.

On the other hand, the straps aren’t rough and tough black leather, but instead are stretchy and comfortable. Again, the garments offer mixed messages. (The ad copy claims the Atlas jockstrap is “the perfect combination of sport jock, fetish jock and fashion jock”, and it certainly looks like a combination of fetish jock and fashion jock — the mixed messages I just referred to — but I find it hard to credit the Atlas as an actual sport jock. It doesn’t look like it offers enough support or could wick up nearly enough sweat, and in any case it’s so visibly a fetish + fashion statement that I can’t imagine it surviving the gaze of real athletes in real locker rooms. It’s a queer jockstrap, and that’s wonderful, but its natural home is in gay dance clubs, circuit parties, and bedrooms, not locker rooms.)

Side note. I don’t know the names of the model in #1 (the one I’ve called C.B.) or the photographer who shot #1, but they deserve credit for their work. I have made an unsuccessful pass at discovering their names, but I know from previous attempts at similar searches that if a quick first pass doesn’t work, the task will probably consume many hours (and I’ve still failed at several searches) — hours I don’t have now and probably never will have.

The art of #1. I’ve already mentioned the contrapposto stance in #1. For some discussion, see my 4/19/21 posting “Cellblock ephebe”, which supplies three examples of interest here: an underwear ad, a famous sculpture, and a famous painting:

(#2) Ad for the Cellblock 13’s Cyclone 2.0 Singlet; contrapposto stance, Praxiteles pose of the head (looking down and to the side), but otherwise not notably art-allusive — though it’s certainly an effective piece of beefcake, male art functioning as soft porn, and it shares with #1 a dick stripe drawing attention to the model’s crotch

(#3) Michelangelo’s David; also note the (left) hand raised to the neck (holding the sling David used to kill the giant)

(#4) Bouguereau’s Birth of Venus; note also her (left) arm held over and behind her head, in what I’ll call the overhand position — here, as part of playing with her hair, but otherwise familiar to me in a different context

Some moments of popular art. Following on the overhand arm position in #1 (and, I think coincidentally, in #4). The overhand position in #1 struck me as one prominently used in body displays or offers, of one armpit and one breast (in a cheesecake pose, with the breast and its nipple as the focus; or in a beefcake pose, with the armpit and the nipple as alternative foci).

The cheesecake pose is a classic, designed to push the model’s breast on that side out. Here’s a modern version, on the junebug weddings site, in “These Modern Pin-Up Boudoir Photos Will Take Your Breath Away” by gabby on 7/2/16:


If you think of outdated 1940s fashion when you hear “pin-up,” prepare to think again! This modern pin-up boudoir shoot from is full of updated details like sequined lingerie and sleek backdrops, while still paying homage to classic pin-up with quintessential poses and super bold va-va-voom makeup. We love how Sarah Haimes of Shuttergram Portraits captured this boudoir model with such gorgeousness and natural light.

The pose has the incidental effect of exposing the model’s armpit on that side. But the sexual power of the arm gesture (for straight men) springs from the advancing of one breast (with the nipple on it).

As a piece of beefcake intended for a gay male audience, however, both the exposed armpit and the showcasing of the  pectoral muscle on that side (with the nipple on it) are sexually charged. Poses that provide both charges I’ve called pitsntits displays. (There’s a pits ‘n’ tits Page on this blog listing postings with such displays; they are very common in men’s underwear ads and in ads for gay porn.) Two-sided displays have the hands held at the back of the head; one-sided displays most often have the hand at the back of the head, but sometimes they use the overhand position, as in this (well-made) soft-porn display from porn actor and model Colton Ford:


The significant resemblances between #1  and #6 lie in the overhand position, the extraordinary upper-arm muscle development, and the prominent dick. Think of these features as a  bit of shared soft porn; the rest of #1 is mostly art allusions. Note especially Ford’s facial expression: he’s gazing right at the viewer with an intense cruise face — C.B. in #1, in contrast, has his face (with closed eyes) down and to the side, performing a version of Bernini’s The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, which I’ll turn to in a moment.

But first I point out that the pitsntits material on this blog is almost entirely about displays, or (somewhat more actively) offers, of the body.

Briefly, notes on the takeup of such offers.

— armpits: in my 3/5/17  posting “Body work III: Axillary Delights”, with a section on the smelling and licking of armpits (pitplay) as sexual pleasures for (many) gay men

And with autoerotic pleasure in sniffing one’s own armpit, as in this ad for herringbone-pattern underwear:


Or, more dramatically (but also more hazily), in this screen shot from a gay porn video:


— nipples: in my 2/25/17 posting “Displaying your nipples”, including a section on giving and getting nipple stimulation (titplay) as sexual pleasures for (many) gay men

In the case of nipple play, pleasurable stimulation can give way to (often pleasurable) pain. From Men’s Health magazine, “The 13 Best Nipple Clamps You Can Buy Online: Who knew pain could feel so good?” by Zachary Zane on 1/19/21:

If you’re looking for a sex toy that elicits a powerful reaction throughout your entire body, then you should totally consider nipple clamps. When your nipples are pinched, the sensation isn’t just localized to your nips — you get a rush of adrenaline and endorphins that sends a powerful, pleasurable sensation coursing through your veins. Nipple clamps make you feel alive, dammit.

The pleasurable stimulation can by autoerotic, stroking or otherwise playing with your nipples. So can pain; you can apply nipple clamps — even just clothespins — to your own nipples. Or, of course, the pain can be part of a sub + dom scene with a partner.

Ecstasy. You might think that C.B. in #1 is just engaged in some autoerotic armpit sniffing, but his expression goes beyond simple pleasure to the closed eyes and slackly open mouth of ecstasy, in this case erotic ecstasy.

The model is the sculpture The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. From Wikipedia:

(#9) Close-up of the head in the sculpture –in religious ecstasty, but looking a lot like a sexual O-face

The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (alternatively Saint Teresa in Ecstasy or Transverberation of Saint Teresa; in Italian: L’Estasi di Santa Teresa or Santa Teresa in estasi) is the central sculptural group in white marble set in an elevated aedicule in the Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome. It was designed and completed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the leading sculptor of his day [in 1647-52], who also designed the setting of the Chapel in marble, stucco and paint. It is generally considered to be one of the sculptural masterpieces of the High Roman Baroque. It depicts Teresa of Ávila.

Compare Matthew Bosch in sexual ecstasy while riding Dirk Caber’s cock (in TitanMen’s Package):


On ecstasy, from Wikipedia:

Ecstasy (from Ancient Greek ἔκστασις ékstasis, meaning ‘outside of oneself’) is a subjective experience of total involvement of the subject, with an object of their awareness. In classical Greek literature it refers to removal of the mind or body “from its normal place of function.”

… From a psychological perspective, ecstasy is a loss of self-control and sometimes a temporary loss of consciousness, which is often associated with religious mysticism, sexual intercourse and the use of certain drugs.

From my 8/23/13 posting “Given over to desire”:

In writing about facial expressions during gay sex (especially, during man-on-man intercourse), I’ve remarked on an ecstatic expression often shown by one partner (usually, the bottom) or both of them. From a posting on “Captioned croppings”, this example of mutual ecstasy (mouths open, eyes narrowed or fully shut):

(#11) Tommy Defendi (slack mouth) fucking Jimmy Fanz (tight mouth) in Raging Stallion’s Hole 1

The expressions are an outward manifestation of an inner state of mind (and body), an intense giving over of one’s self to, or losing one’s conscious self in, the sexual experience — an ecstasy or rapture. Gay men sometimes speak of a bottom in this transcendant state as being in heat

Finally, a note on vocabulary, from AZ on LLog, 12/3/06: “Does anybody have a word for this? We do now.” (on come face and O face as terms for ‘facial expression during orgasm’):

For your entertainment: Details magazine has been printing O-face quizzes, with a display of twenty faces (of both sexes).  In the October issue (p. 180) it’s “Game Face or O-Face?”, in which your task is to distinguish “an ace tennis player’s expression of exertion and a porn star’s look of ecstasy.”  In the November issue (p. 104) it’s “Idol Face or O-Face?”, which provides some “contorted expressions of an aspiring pop idol” and some “of a seasoned porn star.” Now in the December issue (p. 132) it’s “Guitar Face or O-Face?”

One Response to “The Ecstasy of St. Atlas”

  1. The hairy and the smooth | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] 1. From my 5/24 posting “The Ecstasy of St. […]

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