Who was that man?

I start with a photo quiz. Four pictures of men working as models under several professional names, taken over a roughly ten-year period — during which, being models, they might have changed various alterable aspects of their appearance, like hairstyle and hair color, as well as clothing or lack of it; and since they were models, their photographers might have altered some shots for the intended audience. Your task is to say how many men are shown here, and if there are fewer than four, which photos match up.

Photo A. Guy with tires:

Photo B. Guy leaning against a wall:

Photo C. Guy on the beach:

Photo D. Naked guy:

About Photo A. Now some relevant information. Photo A will seem vaguely familiar to many of my readers, especially American ones. What they’re recalling is no doubt this image:


(#5) Fred with Tires, Hollywood 1984 — on a poster for an exhibition in (apparently) 1988 (see “Herb Ritts” on this blog, in a 9/9/16  posting); the Getty description of Fred with Tires: “Muscular young man, wearing dogtags [AZ: as working-class insignia], work pants, and work boots, carrying two car tires, one in each hand”

The Ritts photo enlarged and cropped, to compare to Photo D, which has the same direct intense  gaze (Photo D is from 1987, and might have been posed deliberately to echo Fred with Tires):


(#6) The model called Fred is clearly a bodybuilder (the Getty’s “muscular young man”), and the pose is  homoerotic (Ritts was openly gay, and an unashamed admirer of the male body) — notably homoerotic (with a cruise face on Fred) if you take this to be a photo of a grease monkey in his garage; but in fact we know this is posed and suspect that Fred is a fashion model in body-shop drag, so maybe that’s just a fashion-model glare, but, still …

As a counterpart to #6, consider this Ritts photo of his friend Richard Gere (the actor), in garage drag:


(#7) Richard Gere, San Bernardino (1977), the photo (one from a shoot) that pretty much got Ritts’s career going

Fred with Tires is also from a shoot, the “Body Shop” series, which has a number of photos I admire more than it, because they’re full of kinetic energy and might imaginably be capturing a working-class guy immersed in his job, manhandling tires: photo A and also:

(#8)

From Wikipedia on Ritts:

Herbert Ritts Jr. (August 13, 1952 – December 26, 2002) was an American fashion photographer and director known for his photographs of celebrities, models, and other cultural figures throughout the 1980s and 1990s. His work concentrated on black and white photography and portraits, often in the style of classical Greek sculpture, which emphasized the human shape.

Ritts was pretty much the opposite of a street photographer: he shot a fair number of pictures that weren’t of celebrities or other cultural figures, but almost all of those were of professional models, accustomed to being posed and directed by photographers. In his comments about the “Body Shop” series at the time, Ritts referred to the model Fred as a “student”, and he might have been (at the age of 20 or so) a student somewhere, but he was also a professional model that Ritts got through an agency, where he worked under the name Fred Harding (from now on, FH). Like Richard Gere in #7, FH in the “Body Shop” photos was playing a character — for which he was supplied with the dogtags, overalls, work boots, tires, and engine grease as makeup (and got his hair mussed up).

Hold these thoughts in mind.

About Photo D. This is obviously a porn shot — in fact, it’s a p.r. shot of the porn actor who (mostly) used the name Jeff Quinn (from now on, JQ), for the classic Falcon gay porn flick Giant Splash Shots II (1987), in which he manhandled gigantic engorged penises rather than grubby tires.

From my 7/28/16 posting “Lives of the pornstars: Jeff Quinn”:

Publicity photos … usually made him out to be knowingly, even menacingly, sexual [AZ: see Photo D]:


(#9) JQ as a Falcon pornstar in his late 20s (more data for comparison to FH); note that this is the same guy as in  Photo D

— but in fact his characters tended to be engaging and amiable, charming rather than commanding. And enthusiastically sexual. In combination with his easy masculinity, that’s what made his career in gay porn.

… He was probably gay for pay, but like some other straight (or mostly straight) guys doing gay porn, he was drawn to serving as a bottom, a role that a fair number of g4p guys prefer because it doesn’t require getting and maintaining a hard-on for sex with other men. In any case, Quinn was enormously enthusiastic as a bottom, very satisfying to watch

Digression. In response to a reader who wondered in the comments section on this posting if JQ was still alive, why he disappeared, and whether he might return to the screen, my comment (in part):

Remember that JQ’s brief time as a bright star in porn was about 35 years ago. No porn actor lasts as an actor in the business very long; everyone goes on to something else (even if it’s some other role in the business). Also: every ex-pornstar is also an ex-sexworker, and that brings with it gigantic social penalties; you can see why they might not want to return imaginatively to past days. (In fact, most former sexworkers spend a great deal of time and energy erasing their pasts.) On top of that, many of them were (like JQ) g4p actors who were at best uneasy about the work and so are doubly reluctant to go back in time.

In any case, you can’t go back again.

Meanwhile, JQ himself eventually chimed in with a comment, to thank me for the posting and to correct some of the factual reporting (it’s unbelievably hard to get reliable simple information about porn actors). I used this occasion to invite him in e-mail to talk some with me about his life, but like the other men who’ve left the business that I’ve approached in this way, he shows no desire to go back there.

I was hoping JQ could clarify first-hand an issue that arises in a “Machete for Gaultier” tumbl account  posting about the Ritts “Fred” photos. The text for Fred with Tires (verbatim):

Mainstreaming the homoerotic gaze: Herb Ritts, “Fred with Tires, Hollywood” (detail) 1984  c. Herb Ritts (c. by Herb Ritts.) (October 7- December 3) New york ( inf/The model was a porn actor of the 1980s. Going by the stage name of “Jeff Quinn,” he worked for most of the gay male studios, including Falcon Studios, Catalina Video, Huge Video, and Laguna Pacific Video. He appeared under the name “Rhett Routley” in the December, 1985 issue of Playgirl magazine as Man of the Month/centerfold.)

Folded into this is the claim JQ / Rhett Routley is, or was, FH. (JQ is certainly alive, but evidences of FH vanish some time in the 1990s.) Whoa.

About Photo B. Snagged from the December 1985 issue of Playgirl, which I discussed in my 2016 posting on JQ; he’s presented there under another stage name, Rhett Routley, as a straight guy who’s acted in gay porn. My 7/26/16 AZBlogX posting “X-rated Jeff Quinn” has a page from the Playgirl spread with two full frontal nude shots and two buttocks shots of Rhett Routley (that is, JQ), along with some moving shots of man-on-man sex from JQ’s gay porn career.

(Let me flag once again the poverty of the vocabulary we use for talking about same-sex desire, practices, and identities. For the moment, the best I can do briefly is to say that JQ (in the 1980s, at any rate) was a straight (or bisexual) man who did g4p porn (and, it appears, some bisexual porn as well). Period. A more accurate description would no doubt be even longer than this, but nothing shorter would capture the complexities of his reality, the truth of his experience of sexuality.)

In any case, B, D, and #9 are indisputably the same person, from within a single decade of his life. (This guy is now in his early 60s, and I’m still old enough to be his father, but neither of us is the same person we were back in the 1980s.)

But, but, what about the “Machete for Gaultier” claim that JQ/RR is in fact FH, the guy with the tires? Commenters on the Machete tumblr site are dubious at best about this: FH seems clearly to be younger than JQ (by, maybe, 8 years, enough to be significant when you’re in your 20s), to have stunningly more developed muscles, and pretty clearly to have a sharper chin than JQ’s squarer chin (this being a physical characteristic that’s not easy to alter and that’s not usually adjusted by photographic tricks).

I’d hoped to get JQ’s word on this directly, but I’m now convinced that JQ and FH are different guys, though with a kind of family resemblance (like some other resemblances I’ve posted about recently; see the appendix below). One thing they share is that their physical presences — their faces and their bodies — flourished in a camera’s view.

About Photo C. Put aside all that’s gone before and just look at the photo. Where does it probably come from? What is it probably used for?

Yes, this is a standard advertising photo, the kind you’d find in a glossy magazine. Probably advertising beachwear, rather than beach balls or suntan oil (though suntan oil isn’t completely out of the question).

In any case, he’s a strikingly good-looking, young but seasoned, amiable, regular guy, hair tousled by the surf — an ordinary guy, just more perfect than most of us, a guy any man could identify with, aspire to, a guy the Allen Cox ∙Oceanside∙ brand beachwear folks hoped could move some inventory for them . For he is, or rather was (in the late 80s / early 90s), a model selling clothing, not himself. Using the professional name Fred Harding.

Yes, the FH from Photo A a few years on, now playing a very different fantasy character from Ritts’s grease monkey of 1984. He’s no longer so fearsomely ripped — whether that’s a change in him or photographer’s smoothing I can’t say — but the face is there, and it’s not JQ’s face.

Now, getting information about the details of magazine ads from 30 or so years ago is no easy task. I found Photo C on the Male Model Retro / Uomo Classico Facebook page for 12/2/15. Yes, despite the American-sounding Allen Cox name and the California beach vibes of the brand, the parent business is now the Italian CLAN company (Allen Cox Beachwear is one of its five brands).

About Allen Cox Beachwear, from the CLAN site (just let the ad copy wash over you):

(#10)

Well, that’s now. FH was then, and I have no idea what happened to him.

To summarize. Photos A and C have one man, FH, in them; while Photos B and D have another, JQ/RR. JQ bears some resemblance to FH, but that’s as far as it goes.

Appendix. Two other resemblances from my recent postings:

— from my 10/30/21 posting “Bearing the face for our era”: the late 19th-century French painter Carolus-Duran; and the 21st-century American techie Peter Korn

— from my 1/20/22 posting “Aradesque gets a name”, the Iranian-American bodybuilder, gay pornstar, and underwear model Arad Winwin; and the Italian-Australian underwear model Cristiano (Chris) Lorenzi

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