May 24, 2018

Enrico Natali: Accidental Beefcake

Enrico Natali was born in Utica, New York in 1933, and moved to New York in 1954.  His photographs of people on the New York Subway were published in 1960.  During the next decade, he traveled to several cities in the U.S. to photograph real people engaging in their daily activities, producing moments frozen in time.  His most acclaimed, Detroit 1968, was recently republished.

His world depicts the heterosexual male gaze, with women outnumbering the men, and the men mostly in couples.  There is no one obviously gay, except maybe this short-short and bulge number.

But male beauty leaks through anyway, as if it is impossible to keep it hidden, regardless of what the artist intends or hopes for.

It's accidental beefcake.

And who's to say which of the pairs living their lives in the dark days of 1968 didn't care for each other like that?

In the 1970s Natali gave up photography to concentrate on Zen Buddhist meditation. In 1990s he and his wife moved to the Matilija Canyon, in Ojai, California, where they opened a Zen meditation center (the Blue Heron Zen Center

His oldest son Vincenzo Natali is a writer and director known for horror movies and tv series such as  Cube and Darknet.  His Splice is about a genetically-modified being who changes gender.

In 2000, his youngest son Andrei suggested that they go on a photography tour together.   Andrei died in an auto accident in 2005, but Enrico continued the project, and in 2015, presented Just Looking: Photographs of the American Landscape.

Small Town Swimmers

I'm getting tired of looking for small-town beefcake.  It's always the same: some high school swimmers and wrestlers, and if I'm lucky, some bodybuilders down at the local gym.  Time to move on to other things, but first, some interesting photos of swimmers.

1. Cape May, New Jersey.  I like the French-bordello-red pants.

2. Corvallis, Oregon.  I knew a straight guy from Corvallis.  Homophobic to the max.  But I like these guys posing underwater,

3.  Fargo.  I'm wondering how the swim trunks stay on.

4. Flint.  You'd never know that Flint is 80% black, but it is interesting that the black guy is the only one with someone's arm around his shoulders.

5. Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Another underwater posing pic.

6. Fort Wayne, Indiana, the nearest big city to my parents' home town.  A lot of nicely shaped abs.

More after the break.

Devon Sawa

I wasn't happy when Casper (1995) made the Harvey Comics character into a real ghost -- a dead boy -- rather than a magical being, and then eliminated the gay subtext by giving him a girlfriend.   So, by implication, I wasn't happy with the star, 16-year old Devon Sawa.

But I forgave him when he starred in a string of homoromantic buddy-bonding movies (most required extensive shirtless and underwear shots and skinny-dipping scenes for teenage fans to gaze at):

1. Night of the Twisters (1996), based on the novel by Ivy Ruckman.  Nebraska teens Dan (Devon) and Arthur (Amos Crawley) try to find their families during a spate of tornados.  Unfortunately, there's a fade-out-kiss conclusion.

2. The Boys Club (1997).   Ontario teens Eric (Devon),  his boyfriend Kyle (Dominic Zamprogna), and their friend Brad (Stuart Stone), who seem too old for a clubhouse, are terrorized by an escaped con (Chris Penn).

3. Wild America (1997).  Three "brothers" (Devon, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Scott Bairstow) head out into the wilderness to make a movie.

Meanwhile Devon was getting the full teen-idol treatment, with dozens of photo shoots in teen idol magazines and interviewers asking such probing questions as "What kind of girls do you like?"

His teen idol career lasted for only a few years.  Then he was relegated to sleazy horror films like Idle Hands  (1999), Final Destination (1999), and Devil's Den (2006), or sleazy teen sex comedies like Slackers (2002).

More recently Devon has re-invented himself as an action hero, the heavily-muscled, heavily-tattooed assassin Owen in Nikita (2010-2013), or the unscrupulous cop-turned-detective Nico in Somewhere Between (2017). 

Mostly the kind, sympathetic women and rough, aggressive men bit.  Not a lot of buddy bonding.

There's a sausage sighting story on Tales of West Hollywood


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