Men on the Verge of a Pornographic Extinction

Last night when I arrived home after working at UPS, I was confronted with an email from “MAN ART”, the subject: “we may be taken down”  The mail read:  “To all MAN ART members – today I have received a message form the Ning admin that states in part “it has been brought to our attention that your Ning Network contains content that doesn’t comply with Section 14 of our Terms of Service which specifically prohibits posting content Ning determines constitutes pornography, contains nudity, or is adult in nature” and that we are to remove all nudity and material of an ‘adult nature’ by 5pm today.”  I was in engulfed by a mad panic  and my heart leapt up into my throat, where we about to lose all we had built on this site?

I had joined “MAN ART” last May at the request of my friend and member Bryan Spellman. He had encouraged me several times for several years to submit something,  I never followed up. We are long standing friends, from the early 80’s and had been members of a pioneer gay group called “OUT IN MONTANA”.  He had seen a lot of my images being used in people’s profiles on a site called Manhunt. I mostly recruited models to do lighting tests in exchange for images, they would give some time allowing me to develop and experiment with them on new lighting concepts. I really didn’t think my stuff was very good, but I was developing a following of people who recognized my images and Bryan was one of them, so he kept pushing me to put something up on this MAN ART site.  Finally in May, I decided it was time to put myself out there. I had just been turned down for a job I really wanted as the Production Manager for the Drama/Dance Department at the University of Montana and was emotionally devastated when I realized I had not gotten. I figured I might as well put some images out there since I was at an all time low and nothing to loose just see what kind of response I might get. I painfully chose 8 images and submitted. Needless to say the response was astonishing, beyond what I ever imagined. People on the site fell in love with my images and what I created. I suddenly had fallen into a collective of other artists who created and did what I did; artists who respected and understood me. I was able to express my thoughts, ideas, emotions, anxieties, and joy. I instantly began to communicate with photographers from all over the world, who understood my creative desire and passion. All dealing with so many of the same creative issues: many not being able to find models to work with, lack space, lack of materials, lack of self-esteem. There were so many talented people who had so many different approaches to the same theme or topic. It truly is one of the greatest artist collectives dealing with homoerotic imagery ever conceived. Their mission was simple: “MAN ART is a site for men who create artwork for other men – generally with gay male themes. Work here may reflect, represent and interpret masculinity; male same-sex attraction; male identity; culture; behavior; ideology; thought; sexual orientation etc.” It was a free membership without advertising and would only feature the artists themselves. To be uncensored and unedited for the sole purpose of free expression. It has been one of the greatest influences on me, as an artist, and my own personal growth. It has given me confidence in myself and allowed me to face my anxieties collectively and has ultimately led me to this project I embark on this year, The Naked Man Project.

So last night was a frenzied fevered race into the wee hours of morning trying to archive and save all my correspondences and writings I had over the year with so many who have helped me along this path. My personal record of growth and maturity as an artist were in peril of being lost, because it was stored within the structure of their server which could go down at any time.  I had to cut and paste hundreds of emails and journals to my hard drive to preserve that I had experienced in my association with the website.   A record of one of the finest years in my life with the greatest growth and eventual transformation of myself as an artist in which I was allowed to emerge and express how I uniquely saw the world. Many of those writings will become issues I explore in The Naked Man Project though this upcoming year. I was going to wait until my one-year anniversary to bring it up in this blog but with the possible passing of it’s existence now is time to strike because it is not for all audiences. Some of it is graphic in nature, and yes some of it even I would term pornographic, but there is also strokes of brilliance beyond imagination. It is the greatest site of self expression I have ever experienced.  And yes many of these artists are also linked through Red Bubble, but this was the sight were we could show ourselves at our rawest level and test theories and ideas that may never emerge for general public consumption but where we can live and dwell with each other. When was over joyed this morning when I awoke to see the site was still up.  Something uniquely valuable will be lost if it is not allowed to survive. John Douglas and Strykermeyer I hope you win your battle to ensure its survival. In case it doesn’t to all my great friends a colleagues thanks for all your support of me and your constant encouragement to bring me to where I am today.

This site is not for everyone and often features images of graphic and mature nature. Be warned if it is still up and you are interested in checking it out.  “Toto, we are no longer in Kansas anymore.”

One thought on “Men on the Verge of a Pornographic Extinction

  1. Anthony

    >all my art was there , it wasnt obscene or hurtful , its a shame ya know , ive been a manart member for many years .. i hope the guys find a new home soon , i miss them

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