Category Archives: Identity Issues

Identity Issues

From So Many Different Sides

It seems that I am still spending a lot of time working on the behind the scenes process of the site still when what I really need is to get some new material on the front end.  I need to begin writing some new reviews, create some new artist profiles and gather more of their work, and add more of my own galleries.  The site is currently fantastic to navigate and as I work my way through.  It has an amazing look and feel to it.  I need not be too concerned with my own gain by the project but work toward creation of exploration of my own identity and personal vision.  For the future to see a sort of legacy that says this is who and what I was, this is what I knew and this is the way I saw the world and it’s evolution during my existence here on this earth.  This is going to be the power of it.  I have so much stuff in my head that I just need to share for others to experience.  There is a new generation of gay culture that does not know the wonder and fascination of who and what we have become.  They are caught in a world that only involves them, in this moment, in a sort of self contained and self-centered sort of way.  They don’t know what films to watch, what books to read, how art can transform our lives and evoke our passion, feelings and desire.  I feel fortunate enough that I was able to live and grow up in the height of an era that went from a state of lost bewilderment to acceptance of a complete social consciousness filled with pride struggled through an epidemic that empowered us and somehow managed to survive it.  It is the story of a remarkable journey that will be lost if we as that generation that went through it does not share our experience.  Our world is not changing at lightening speed.  And that change is reflected through our social media.  I remember seeing a movie called Making Love in the theaters the first week I meet and fell in love with my first partner, which was not very optimistic for choosing that sort of lifestyle back then.  In fact I was so disturbed by it back then that I left my new boyfriend and walked home alone cursing myself and sobbing for having chosen a lifestyle that felt to incredibly alive but now know would end in complete and utter unhappiness.  But on the sexual end felt so completely right.  Jump to 30 years later and now there are hundreds of great films that tell our stories from so many different sides, many of them reflecting a healthy and honest perspective of what we have become.  I am lucky, I have felt love, I still follow my passions and am excited by something new everyday that shows me a new and captivating side of myself.  This is my exploration and what I have to share.  I have reached that stage of the project where I need to make that leap, technically the site is there, now I just need to realize and explore my vision.

When Art Becomes A Mirror To Ourselves

I often become obsessive about things. I will get stuck on an idea or a person and research all I can to learn as much as I can about that subject.  About a month or so ago my buddy Austin mentioned he was going to see a filmed production of A Streetcar Named Desire that was being broadcast at a local movie theater.  I happened to have the night off, which is a rare occasion for me, and we went.  It was a production that had been telecast from the Old Vic Theater in London and featured Jullian Anderson as Blanche Dubois.  It was mind blowing good, tapping the raw sexual underbelly of the script that is often softened to make it more digestible for the average audience.  I suddenly was in a spiral obsession of everything Tennessee Williams.  I discovered there had been a new biography published this past September by John Lahr called ‘Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh’ that cut to the core of Williams personality mostly revealed through his personal letters and the actual text and historical drama that surrounded his career.   Let me preface this by saying some 30 years earlier when I was a budding theater-directing student I turned my then obsession with Tennessee Williams into my graduation thesis project.  I have been a fan and avid Williams –o- phile for most of my adult life.   This is the one man in my life I truly wished I could have met.  Unfortunately he choked to death on a pill bottle lid and died before my obsession began.  The new book reveals there was little separation from Williams and his work.  His works become a product of his own neurosis.  No wonder his works evokes such strong emotions within me.  Then as now his work inspired me to become my own sort of artist and seek to express the truths within myself.  So to become an artist, did it mean we had to become deranged self-loathing alcoholics who are essentially social outcasts?   I don’t think so, but perhaps it helps in revealing who and what kinds of lives we have lived.  Art is an expression from the perspective of the artist’s experiences.   The more we become aware of those experiences and don’t repress or deny them, the more powerful they become.  It can take a lot of courage to look within ourselves and show others what we feel.  To bare our souls and put forth for others to either connect with or judge.  Most of my life I have faced hardship, censorship, much of it self imposed, fear, doubt, and anxiety.  But I have always tried to look at it objectively and figure out how it has shaped my own humanity.  In a sense I think my greatest gain has been compassion for others, those less fortunate.  I see the positive things in others and have the ability to reflect them back showing them the more positive aspects of themselves.  I deeply connect to this, come up with how my own life experiences and create a reflection.  A while back, a kid approached me about an incident that he couldn’t remember. He had gone on a date with someone and next thing he remembers was waking up in a hospital after being found in an alley stripped and severely beaten.   He was having difficulty dealing with it emotionally and needed desperately to come to terms with the incident.  I also had a similar incident happen to me when I lived in DC when I was also very young and strongly connected to what he was going through.  We talked about it for hours and finally agreed that we needed to turn this into some powerful visual representation.  I staged and lit the studio and we worked on what would become an emotional photo shoot and a very powerful series of images for both of us.  Today’s image is from that series.  This time around, my obsession with Tennessee Williams I have a greater appreciation for his work.  I am grasping the deeper meaning in the context of his world and characters because how much it now relates to me and the history of what I have become.  I only aspire to express such emotion within the context of my own work!
Thank god for my obsessions.

A Defining Moment As Montana Finally Accepts Gay Marriage

I was out and about on Friday and happened to glance at our local newspaper to see that gay marriage had finally come to my home state of Montana.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I sat in a public space as waves of overwhelming feeling poured over me.  For some reason it become a defining moment in my life where I have now become totally accepted for who and what I am.  I guess I knew in my heart it was on its way, so many other states have already adopted it.  One of my best friends married a truly remarkable partner last year in Seattle, I was not able to attend but when they described how overwhelming the whole experience was to be surrounded by people so much family, such close friends, people who admire and adore you to celebrate their love and commitment to each other.   I felt a little pang with jealousy that they were already there and we were not yet.  I was born in a small Montana community and partially raised on a fourth generation cattle ranch that was homesteaded by my great grandfather.  I always realized I was different, and most of my life became a battle to defend that difference.  It was not genetic and it was not choice it was just the simple fact that I was what I was, gay!  I have always been open about my feelings and my passions, even though most of my youth I was encouraged to overlook or suppress what I was.  Over the years it has created a certain amount of anguish, as if I was living on the outside of society but not actually able to enter within it.  It made me stronger, I developed a resilience to become comfortable as myself.  It defined my character but built my personality.  I have always been drawn to the creative arts as a means of expression.  It was through this expression I found myself, told and showed the world who I was, through my work and was actually define and explore all my feelings and emotions.  The struggle to define one’s self is what makes truly interesting artistic expression.  Though I don’t feel compelled to rush out and marry the man of my life, whom I have loved and adored for 17 years I do see what a remarkable and blessed journey I have been on.  It somehow feels awesome to be accepted with open in a place I have always been a part of.

Today’s image was part of a series I was shooting for book cover art for Dream Spinner Press.  I have been selling many of my images for cover art for romance novels but never quite got around to submitting this series yet.

“Don’t Dream It Be It…”

Have we changed culturally since the inception of Rocky Horror 41 years ago or do we still live in a delusional fantasy world of manufactured dreams?   I guess I really question how many people actually live their lives instead of dream them.

The lyrics from the musical Rocky Horror have been drifting through my mind all week “Don’t dream it be it, don’t dream it be it…” Missoula was privileged to see one of the most extraordinary productions of Rock Horror I have seem in a very long time.   It was a small independent production company who produced it at the old historic Wilma Theater downtown.  I had shot the promotion photos and received some comps to the show.   I took some friends who where not familiar with the play or movie and boy were they in for a ride.  The Cigarette Girls, a burlesque troupe, whom I have also photographed, opened for the show, and got the audience revved up.  The audience went wild throughout the entire show, like I have never seen an audience get so into a show before.  I began to think about what a powerful show Rocky Horror is and question how relevant it is to where we currently are culturally.  The stage musical first premiered in London in 1973 and I believe became one of the most inciting reasons from the sexual revolution in the 70”s.  It showed us a side of ourselves we had never seen.  It opens in the quintessential American Dream of the time, boy/girl marriage.  Brad and Janet represent where society stood at that moment in history.  They enter a world where they are titillated and tempted to escape that safety net they are conditioned to accept socially and explore a pleasure of the senses and taste the temptation of forbidden desires.  It teaches us to face our fears and give way to what we are destined to become, to live without fear, without judgment, and to follow our passions and fulfill the object of our dreams.

This week as I began working through and cleaning up The Naked Man Project site this musical keep creeping into my subconscious.  I began to question my own reality, am I actually living my desire or do I live in my own delusional fantasy world.  In a sense my world of photography becomes a fantasy, I manufacture my own illusion that is based in my own reality.  I am an artist and so I create every day.  This is certainly my reality.  But I also live in a world where I see and talk to so many other people who have an idealist aspiration for their reality but still live in a dream.  Perhaps too afraid to show the world who they really are.  There seems to be a lack of self-confidence.  Our modern world of Internet chat seem to allow us to escape into alter personas and allow us to embellish or disguise who we really are.  When we should just be accepting and put our true selves out there, even for our odd synchronicities or proclivities, because it’s really what makes each of us unique.  For many we are still trying to fit into the norm of what is acceptable culturally.  Unfortunately we are constantly conditioned toward this sort of heighted reality, when we access the Internet, it is about perfect abs and big dicks, no wonder we all feel so inadequate.  It feels like everyone is racing to the climax and forgetting to enjoy the ride along the way.   I personally think since the sexual revolution of the 70’s we have actually taken a step backwards.  People are living the fantasies of what they desire to become within the creation of their online profiles.  Thinking the world will not accept them for who they really are.

I was thoroughly excited all week working on this project because I realize through this project I have become “it”, and have moved beyond my own dreams and exceeded my wildest expectations!!!!   I have faced my own fears and doubts and am now have become what I always dreamed.

Soul Seeker

This morning when I looked on Manhunt, as I do every morning to peruse the personals in quest of new subjects for my photo experiments, I saw a name that actually intrigued me: Soul seeker. Of course I had to respond: “Soul Seeker – Interesting thought, that might make you either a god or a devil, searching for lost souls in a sometimes seemingly soulless environment; like a decent into a modern Dante’s Inferno. It’s really a brilliant concept.” He is a 32 year old, Top/Versatile Male that is 6”0 with a swimmers body, light brown wavy hair and a devilish glean in his blue eyes that has been taken in a multi impression mirror, so we can see the duality of his expression. My mind began spinning amazing thoughts about the possibility of the concept of a devil/angle searching for our lost souls in a man hunting site that has become a dream like world mostly plastered with impressionistic images of cocks, ass and mostly naked bodies seeking sex and quick hookups and an occasional long term relationship. WOW! What a perfect place for such a person to dwell where they can easily claim those souls, many seemingly lost; drifting, waiting, anticipating, on the edge of a dark desire that will either fulfill or consume them. For the most part they are looking to be consumed. This is beginning to sound a lot like a Tennessee Williams play or a short movie, or a study for a new photographic series. “All hope abandon, ye who enter in!” Why does this world of cruising men seem to always have such a dark edge? It is a delicious reverie of the flesh, a mysterious glimpse of a shadow in the darkness, most of them blurred, just a little beyond focus where we get a vague impression, but not sharp enough to contain any hints of reality. Abs are hyper extended, bodies contorted into complex unnatural poses, taken sometime from even more unusual positions. I am captivated and often envious that what I work so hard to create, can become genius at the hands of a skillful cell phone. Light setting in the wrong position creating equally as interesting color casts, that add a garish tone to the overall feel of the image. A skillfully placed strobe to obscure the face, adds to the soulless nature of the headless bodies. It’s like we are all trying to hide something, perhaps our insecurities and yet reveal something someone else might see in us and desire. I sometimes gaze in awe of the brilliance of these images, reading the brief snippets they project out to us and often ponder, who is this person, really. It fascinated me to no end. And I wonder if perhaps if I am not the soul seeker, that devil also trying to steal some of these lost souls. But often the subjects I have culled from these depths and brought into my studio to illuminate redeemed that self respect and dignity they often can’t see within themselves. This is where my imagery becomes it’s most powerful and provocative, restoring all these sorted bits into a distinguishable whole that is pure, healthy and vital. I have often thought it would be interesting to show a collection of these internet images. Printed, matted, framed and hung in a gallery where we could admiringly peer into the depths of these wondrous visions. The art of self selling one’s own sex is often for more interesting then what we give it credit for on the surface.