Archive for May, 2010
Here are just a few more photos from my last shoot with Adam.
More on my site.
I don’t get it. What it is about this thing that makes so many people want to hang out here?
On the eve of Chicago’s International Mr. Leather weekend, here’s an interesting article that I found on my friend Christian’s Facebook page, about IML’s decision to ban all porn and related products that doesn’t portray or condone safer sex and condom use.
Even though it can be perceived as paternal, I can understand IML’s decision to do this. But after reading the article, I can also see where the writer is coming from. And so, I’m doing what I do whenever I see both sides of a story, I thought I’d share it with my friends and ask for your opinion. Read the article, and tell me what you think.
In case you ever need to find a Puerto Rican wedding party in Chicago, it seems that they’re all at the Bean, or the Cloud, or whatever it’s called. Here are two of them.
The second wedding party, by the way, looked young enough that I think they can repurpose their wedding attire next year for the prom.
I only managed to catch these two of the five wedding parties that were there, which is a shame because one of the other brides looked so ridiculous. (We couldn’t tell if she was wearing a wedding dress or a cheesecake.)
To me, a good portrait shows a person with authenticity (even if it’s posed). You’ll see a person in a good portrait and feel like you know them a little bit.
This means that it’s easiest to take a good portrait of people that you already know, like this shot of Jay with our friend Billy. I took this portrait the last time Billy visited us from Chicago, just after the three of us finished working on a collaborative art project.
But personally, my favorite portrait subjects are people that I don’t know well, but want to on some level. Like this one, of Stephen, one of the boys that works in my gym who’s done some real modeling shots for me and who is going to come back for more soon. I took this photograph the very first time Stephen came over to my house, just to talk about modeling. He had a big cut on his arm and his hair was uncombed and he looked like he had been working around his apartment all day.
But it’s still one of my favorite portraits and it set the bar for what I wanted to do with him when he came back for a real shoot.
Here is the last set of photos that I’ve got to post of Ryan; his set for The New Gods.
You’ll find two more shots (not safe for work) after the jump, and still one more on my website.
Jay and I have talked: This experiment we’ve been conducting with suburban home-ownership has had its interesting moments. We still like our actual house quite a bit, once we’re actually inside it. It’s a happy house, a comfortable space with good energy. But after two and a half years we both still get creeped out driving through the neighborhood to get to it — through a sea of beige, vinyl-sided boxes with matching mailboxes and garbage cans, each with one sapling in the front yard . . . and each inhabited by the kind of straight families that drive cars with Indianapolis Colts license plates and have Pampered Chef parties.
There are still a few times when I like living in the suburbs, like at night when I walk the dog. I like hearing bullfrogs and an occasional owl. At night it’s different, the vinyl village almost looks charming then, with its matching coach lights and gentle glow from the houses. I can open our screen doors and let the cross breeze into the living room and it’s peaceful. It’s mostly during the day when I don’t like it here. Jay and I have discovered what we should have known all along: We are better suited for a small condo located in some cute urban neighborhood where we could walk to things like coffee houses and bistros and the dry cleaner.
I don’t think we’ll be living here for long.
One of the aspects of home-ownership that Jay and I both thought we’d enjoy is raising a yard. Not true. We tried to do it organically, without a lawn-care service and pesticides, and we found that we were growing more thistles, dandelions, and clover than grass. Even earthworms didn’t want to live in our yard. We tried to buy an environmentally-friendly lawn mower, and all we got was a very expensive, very heavy box that kind of hacked at the grass. And so we disposed of it and bought a regular lawn mower, which also died a few weeks ago.
I stomped my feet and said, “I’m damn well not buying a third lawnmower in three summers,” and then put the following status update on Facebook:
We need to find a model who cuts grass. Know anybody? Okay, so he doesn’t really HAVE TO look like a model, but we do need a lawn service.
Within a few minutes one of my models wrote to me and said that a friend from high school had been mowing lawns since he could walk. And so that’s how we came to hire Justin.
It was a little awkward for me that the first time he cut our grass, I was at home. I was suffering with shingles, so I had an excuse, but it still felt very “southern California” for me to be inside the house, sitting on the couch while a hired hand was manicuring my lawn. I almost felt like taking the cliché to the limit, and opening the door to offer the lawn boy a glass of iced tea. But I refrained. And it beats buying yet another lawnmower when we’re not sure how long we’re going to have a lawn.
Our grass looks great, so it’s worth it. And Justin is a nice guy. I’m going to ask him if I can take his portrait, someday. If you need a lawn service, let me know as I’d refer him.
The internet came into its own during the years I was with the partner before Jay (who I jokingly refer to sometimes as “husband number 3″). I don’t talk about him much, because it feels like a lifetime ago, and because 10 years after the fact, I feel like I must have been having a what-was-I-thinking moment that lasted the entire four years of our relationship. Not that he’s a bad guy, per se, we just have/had about as much in common as Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.
What I was going to talk about is that when we broke up, there was this new “internet” thing that made dating a whole new experience. Back then, it was Yahoo! Personals and gay.com that commanded the attention (I think Manhunt was in its infancy), and as I had become single, I quickly discovered that ordering a man from the internet and having him show up at my door — just like looking over an online menu and getting a pizza an hour later — was kind of amazingly cool.
But the one thing that shocked me back then was this: the number of “straight,” married men on the gay personal sites, looking for sex. Okay, at first it didn’t shock me, it mortified me — I couldn’t believe how many married men were trying to get into my bedroom (often old trolls, but not always; dare I say there were even a few DILFs popping up to chat with me?).
Of course, being a live-and-let-live kind of person, I soon got over this mortification, deciding that while being a gay man with a wife and family was kind of pathetic, it was also their cross to bear, not mine. But to this day, when the subject comes up I tell people that if you go into the personals section on Craigslist, I’d bet money that more than half of those guys on the men-seeking-men page are married.
I always attributed it to being in Indiana, the Bible Belt, where boys are taught from their earliest evangelical days that the homosexual lifestyle leads to a certain damnation in hell. (How pretending to be straight, getting married, but then hooking up with men behind their wives’ backs saves them from this fate is beyond me, but it seems to be the logic, sometimes.) And then there are other men who claim that they have to be straight for career purposes — like the married guy who used to work in an office environment with me, who thought that none of the rest of us noticed that once a week, a “friend” picked him up for a two-hour lunch “appointment,” from which he would return showered and wearing different clothes.
And now, finally, there’s been one study conducted (which I found on my dear friend Nicky’s site) that confirms that it’s not just Indiana, and it’s not just my experience:
Ten percent. That’s a lot of married guys out hooking up with guys. I have to admit that if I were a married woman, this kind of survey would be making me nervous.
But I think there’s more to it. I think it’s just a simple fact that, try as most people will to appear to be incorruptible, people are still animals — pigs, even. At the very least, we’re a lot more sexual than we let on. But we live in a country that’s still steeped in its Puritan beginnings. People still refer to my photography as “dirty pictures” on a regular basis. But if we all suddenly knew what all the rest of us were doing when they thought that other people weren’t looking, I think we’d all be amazed.
Maybe even horrified. But definitely amazed.
I’ve finally found my voice with the Drifters and Wanderers series. These photos of AJ are exactly what I was looking for.
I like these so well that I’m in the process of calling back previous models of the series and asking them to pose again.
I also think the series may have a new, and more appropriate, name.
If you shop for groceries at Trader Joe’s as often as Jay and I do, you might be interested in reading this story from Utne magazine:
I’m not sure that it warrants NOT shopping at Trader Joe’s, but it certainly makes me want to look for quite a bit more information. I have to admit that I’ve had some of these questions in my own mind for a long time, as I’ve often wondered how Trader Joe’s can offer “organic” and “natural” foods for so much less money than their competition, like Whole Foods and Sunflower Market and Fresh Market.
And while you’re reading, click through to this article:
On average, Jay and I eat veggie burgers probably twice a week. I’ll admit that I’ve not previously heard of hexane, nor have I done the research to find out exactly how toxic it is, but still, I’m thinking that’s just gross.