Category Archives: Photography

The Naked Gunner

You have probably all seen this photograph by Horace Bristol form 1944. It has been widely reproduced and viewed as a symbol of bravery, loyalty, and erotic masculinity. In October 2020, the photo was included in a Sotheby’s auction of Classic Photographs. Lot 13, “HORACE BRISTOL | PBY BLISTER GUNNER, RESCUE AT RABAUL” sold for $ 27,720, well over the estimate of $ 8,000-$12,000.

PBY Blister Gunner, Rescue at Rabaul, 1944” is one of the most iconic photos of the Pacific War. But the identity of the “Naked Gunner,” as it is popularly known, remains a mystery to this day. The photo was taken by Horace Bristol (1908-1997), a founding photojournalist for the illustrious Life magazine. In 1941, Bristol was recruited to the U.S. Naval Aviation Photographic Unit, as one of six photographers under the command of Captain Edward J. Steichen, documenting World War II in places such as South Africa and Japan. It is not known if the Bristol ever asked the soldier for his name as he captured his image. Sadly, we will never know. Bristol died in 1997, having kept a discreet silence on the bomber’s identity if, indeed, he ever knew it.

Bristol ended up being on the plane the gunner was serving on, which was used to rescue people from Japanese-held Rabaul Harbor (New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea) when this photograph was taken. In an article from a December 2002 issue of B&W Magazine he remembers: 

“…we got a call to pick up an airman who was down in the Bay. 

“The Japanese were shooting at him from the island, and when they saw us, they started shooting at us. The man who was shot down was temporarily blinded, so one of our crew stripped off his clothes and jumped in to bring him aboard. He couldn’t have swum very well wearing his boots and clothes. 

“As soon as we could, we took off. We weren’t waiting around for anybody to put on formal clothes. We were being shot at and wanted to get the hell out of there. The naked man got back into his position at his gun in the blister of the plane.”

The fearless airman was deployed as part of a rescue campaign known as Operation Dumbo. Dumbo was the code name used by the United States Navy during the 1940s and 1950s to signify search and rescue missions, conducted in conjunction with military operations, by long-range aircraft flying over the ocean. The purpose of Dumbo missions was to rescue downed American aviators as well as seamen in distress. Dumbo aircraft were originally land-based heavy bomber aircraft converted to carry an airborne lifeboat to be dropped in the water near survivors. The name “Dumbo” came from Walt Disney’s flying elephant, the main character of the animated film Dumbo, appearing in October 1941. The campaign saved many Americans and their allies from a watery grave.

The PBY Catalina (a waterbomber) for which the naked man was a gunner, was an amphibious aircraft, recognized and celebrated by American aviators and flight crews for its vast range and endurance. According to the PBY Naval Air Museum, Washington website, the ‘versatile’ aircraft was capable of dropping “torpedoes, depth charges and bombs” while providing defense for their crews from “multiple high-caliber machine guns.” The airborne fleet, designed by Isaac Machlin Laddon and manufactured by the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation, was used all over the world, but particularly in coastal areas, to “patrol for enemy fleets and perform rescues.”

You can see more of Bristol’s photographs if you go to

The Boy with Glasses 😲

I had planned to write a different post today, but time kept getting away from me, so I thought I’d post this picture of a group of school boys ogling vintage beefcake physique model Steve Kotis in the 1950s. I usually don’t post vintage pics. BosGuy does a much better job with his Thursday Vintage Gay posts. However, this picture of Steve Cotis just tickled me, because I can (and I bet a lot of you can too) relate to the boy in glasses checking Kotis out. I think we all know what that kid was looking at. It’s just such a great picture in my opinion.

Pics of the Day

These three images are from Bear Pond, an “infamous book” of nude photography by Bruce Weber and poetry by Reynolds Price, published by Little, Brown and Company in 1990. The book currently sells for anywhere between $200 and $900.

Pic of the Day



First things first, I thought I’d give this photograph a new perspective by turning it on its head. Obviously, the first thing I thought when I saw this picture was that it’s the reflection of a beautiful man. It’s a man with his pants down standing in water with his hands behind his back, and we see him through his reflection rippling in the water. I have always been a sucker for a photograph that gives you just enough to leave you wanting more. This picture does that for me in spades. The water distorts the picture just enough so that you can’t make out perfect details, but there is no doubt this man has a phenomenal body. So that is a largely superficial look at the photograph.

Photography is an art like any other, with the photographer as the artist. How they situate their model or what part of the scene they focus on, can tell different stories. Now to get philosophical…I am assuming that the photographer took this picture with the gay male aesthetic in mind. That being said, I would say that the photographer is attempting to make a statement about how gay men see themselves. As a community, we are far too often hypercritical of one another and that makes us hypercritical of ourselves. Therefore, we often see a distorted picture of ourselves, much like the water distorts the picture of the model. Often our distortions can be harmful to ourselves, which one might say is the reason the picture is taken with the model standing in water.

The two major points of symbolism in this photograph are the water and the reflection. Since water is often a sign of life, many times water represents life. Water can also be put into two categories: fresh water and bad/polluted water. The water in this photograph appears to be fresh water which usually represents good health. Water can also mean purity and cleansing. It also represents thirst, since people drink water to quench their thirst. Furthermore, the reflection in the water calls to mind the symbolism of the mirror. The oracle of Apollo at Delphi demanded of the ancient Greek ‘know thyself,’ and mirrors have often been used as symbols of wisdom and self-knowledge. But Apollo also required ‘nothing in excess,’ and the mirror can just as easily imply vanity, an unhealthy amount of self-regard. The peril of over admiring one’s mirror image is encapsulated in the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus, the beautiful boy who having fallen in love with his reflection in a pool, pined away and was turned into a flower. One way in which an artist can make use of the mirror is to show us something that we would not otherwise be able to see; the reflection of an object or person outside the scope of the painting perhaps. In the case of this photograph, it’s the upper two-thirds of the body. The most distorted part is the face leaving us with anonymity.

Therefore, considering that we are looking through the lens of the gay male aesthetic, I gather a few points about the interpretation of this photograph. I assume that this is a photograph from either the 1970s or 1980s, but I could be wrong. I am going to postulate that the picture reminds me of a thirst for life and that the reflection in the water not only implies a narcissism, even thought the model is looking away trying to hide his narcissistic tendencies, but that the distorted face symbolizes the anonymous sex and hedonistic lifestyle of the pre-AIDS era.

Then again, the photographer may have just known that the model had a large penis, asked him to stand in the water and drop his pants so he could take a picture of his reflection so that the photographer could claim it was art because of the artistic angle and not a pornographic picture of a man with a large flaccid penis. Furthermore, this picture could be part of a larger picture and was merely cropped this way by someone at some point.

I Want To Know


A picture is worth a thousand words, or is it? I want to know if you think this one is.

I saw this picture and was immediately intrigued. I have my theories about why I find it so interesting, but I’m gonna do something a little different with this post. I will post my thoughts on this picture tomorrow, but today I want to know what you think. Do you find this picture interesting? What about its aesthetic do you like? Basically, what I asking my readers is: How do you feel when you see this picture?

I really am interested in what you’d guys think, so please comment. Just tell me what pops in your mind when you see it. I will have have my thoughts about this picture written up before I read comments but I wanted to see what you thought without any input from me. Even if the photograph does nothing for you, you are welcome to tell me that too.

By the way, I have no idea who took the photo nor do I know who the subject is. However, it did come from the blog Homodesiribus.

Hair Today, NOT Gone Tomorrow


Nick Jonas has been all over the internet recently. He has spent the better part of the last month promoting his new single, “Jealous,” and his upcoming DirecTV series, Kingdom, with a media tour that has included interviews with several gay publications and some stops at gay bars. The attention seemed to begin when Jonas showed off his abs at a gay bar, engaged in some flirting with the patrons and has spent the last few weeks going out of his way to prove that his affinity for his gay fans is more than a marketing strategy.

The viral internet attention seemed to hit a high point last week (his new show premieres tonight) when his photo shoot in Flaunt magazine became public. The photo shoot included several shots inspired by Marky Mark’s iconic 1992 Calvin Klein underwear campaign.

I have to agree with Noah Michelson, the Executive Editor of Gay Voices at The Huffington Post, when he said that the Calvin Klein-esque photos were “not the most interesting thing to come out of the Flaunt shoot.” The photo above however is very interesting. It shows something we don’t often get to see in media: body hair. There is an incredibly sexy small patch of hair fanning out across Jonas’ lower back and creeping down his butt cleavage.

There is so much attention paid to smooth male bodies that you have to look hard for a natural look. It’s why one of my favorite blogs is SteveXS’s blog All Natural & More, (NSFW) dedicated to “Appreciating Maleness In Its Natural State Plus Other Things We Like.” The appreciation of body hair, especially when it’s all natural, comes and goes in our culture. Look at most gay porn and the bodies are often very smooth, and the model may or may not even have public hair. On mainstream shows, you never see a full chest of manly hair like Magnum, P.I. anymore. The bodies are hairless.

And when we do see body hair in magazines or movies, it’s always controlled and coiffed and constrained to the chest and stomach. Often it’s a source of comedy and the person is made fun of for being overly hairy. If you look for the gay scene with hairy men, you have to look to bears, cubs, or otters (all animal inspired names). In our culture, to be hairy seems to mean that the person is animalistic or a Neanderthal with lower intelligence. Even many of the “otters” are trimmed, sometimes severely. Whereas, we do occasionally see limited chest or tummy hair, but hairy backs and asses are even bigger jokes. If you have one (and many, many men do), you can’t be the leading man; you’re someone’s gross dad or lecherous bad date. A sentiment that I wholly disagree with. I know he has a bad rap today, but I will never forget seeing Mel Gibson’s hairy butt in “Bird on a Wire” when I was a teenager. It left a hard wired memory in my mind, even if I later found out it was a “stunt butt,” which actually makes it better now. I didn’t pay attention to the reaction to Gibson’s stunt butt, I was too busy staring at that glimpse I was given, but since 1990 when that movie came out, fewer and fewer men are seen with hairy bodies.

Nick Jonas showing his hairy butt is definitely a breakthrough. Though I was never a fan of the Jonas Brothers, or really even Nick Jonas, I can certainly appreciate his once shapely bubble butt. It’s a breakthrough because Jonas is a 22-year-old celebrity who many consider a “heartthrob.” Jonas may be showing the hair on his lower back to prove to people that he is now a man and no longer a teenager, dare I say, a kid. He’s all grown up and he has a gritty grown-up television show. But it can also be a sign of more.

I’ve based most of this article on the one mentioned above by Noah Michelson (however, I’ve added many of my own thoughts as well), but I want to end with Michelson’s explanation of why he write an article asking “Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About Nick Jonas’ Hairy Ass?” This is what Michelson wrote in his blog post on HuffPost Gay Voices:

I can already see the comments section of this blog post filling up with responses like “Who cares?” and “Why is this news?” And you’re right: This isn’t “news.” No one else even seems to be thinking, much less writing, about this photo. But before you write me off as just another garden-variety perv (which is totally valid most of the time), I hope you’ll consider how important visibility is for creating change.

As more and more queer people come out and we gain more and more “possibility models” (as Laverne Cox has so eloquently put it) in the media, we feel more permission to be exactly who we are, and I believe the same is true for body image. Imagine being a 22-year-old guy and feeling ashamed about your own hairy back or hairy ass and seeing that image. Or imagine being an 18-year-old young woman and seeing that photo and having to readjust your idea of what sexy is. Even in queer culture, with our bears and otters and cubs and wolves, we’re no stranger to shaming bodies — our own and each other’s — and tiny, but visible, moments like this one are important for us too.

I’m not claiming that this photo is some kind of furry panacea for all that ails us. Of course Nick Jonas’ body conforms to (or surpasses) societal norms in many ways, and seeing it could inspire body shaming or set unrealistic expectations for some people. I’m also not claiming that men shouldn’t shave or wax or laser their bodies if that’s what they prefer, but I would like to at least raise the question of why hairlessness is the preference for so many of us and address the stigma that often comes with being hairy. And let’s face it: Jonas isn’t exactly hirsute, but I believe there is something radical about that patch of hair — however small, however innocent — climbing out of his jeans in the pages of Flaunt. And I think it’s worth pointing out and talking about, because this is how our culture begins to change — one image at a time — and because I want to celebrate progress — however modest — wherever I find it, even (especially?) if it’s in Nick Jonas’ hairy ass crack.

I have to agree wholeheartedly with Michelson. Maybe it will inspire some people to look a little differently at what they view as sexy. Personally, I think that men shave for two reasons. First, they trim their crotch area because they’ve been told it makes their penis look bigger (and a few other sexually misinformed reasons), when in fact, when it’s too trimmed it just looks odd. Second, I believe men do so to make themselves look younger. I teach a lot of teenage guys, and I often hear mixed feelings about body hair. Some are proud of their body hair because it means they are becoming a “man.” Others shave for various reasons: trying to make their dick look bigger, because their girlfriend asked them to, because they see it in the media, etc. They are forming opinions and maybe with some positive images of natural body hair, no matter how insignificant, they will see that it’s ok to be natural.

The picture below is two different pictures of the same model: unshaved and shaved. Which do you prefer?


Bigotry, Biscuits and Gravy: Being Queer Below The Mason-Dixon Line

Interesting post about LGBT identities in the South

Alexander Kargaltsev’s ‘Asylum’

“The models’ nakedness is a powerful visual statement imbued with symbolism. They are not nude but naked, for they had courage to shed the many layers of fear and come out to the world uncovered, vulnerable, yet proud.”
That’s how curator Ivan Savvine describes “Asylum,” the poignant new exhibition featuring the work of gay photographer and filmmaker Alexander Kargaltsev, which opens Oct. 26 at 287 Spring Gallery in New York. Kargaltsev’s subjects, all Russian gay men (including several couples) who fled violence and discrimination in their homeland, have all been shot fully nude against iconic New York settings such as the Unisphere in Queens and the “Alice in Wonderland” statue in Central Park, but the end results are more striking than sensual.
“Their naked bodies thus also reveal their experience as refugees, for every person seeking refuge rebuilds his or her life completely ‘naked,’ starting from scratch with no family or friends and often without the language they can speak or understand,” Savvine notes in his introduction to Kargaltsev’s published collection of the photographs.
The Moscow-born Kargaltsev, who moved to the U.S. in 2010 after he won a scholarship to the New York Film Academy, is no stranger to persecution himself. Earlier this year, the now-Brooklyn resident described clashing with Moscow military police during a gay pride rally in the Russian capital to the New York Daily News.
“They left us lying in blood in the street,” he said at the time.
Kargaltsev’s “Asylum” photographs were on display through Sunday, Oct. 28 at New York’s 287 Spring Gallery. 

Colby Melvin: Model

Andrew Christian has a lot of things going for them. They’ve got a cult-like following, awesome underwear, and Colby Melvin, the 5’8″ Southern boy with a charming-as-heck Southern accent. He’s just about as endearing, nice and ambitious as they come, too. If you’ve seen the newest Andrew Christian video “Jockstrap Cowboys,” you definitely know who Colby is. If you haven’t, get on it. And make sure you watch the just released behind the scenes videos, too.

Originally from Louisiana, Colby has a degree from Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL in Psychology and lived and went to school there for 4 years, then worked there for a year.  Colby worked for the BP oil spill as a project manager in the command center. This position landed him a job for a maritime holding company that he lost when his boss found out he way gay. So he moved to Houston.

He had been in Houston a week when he was asked to help out at a benefit for the Houston Buyers Club. Colby said that he had never been exposed to gay culture until his arrival in Houston. “It was sort of culture shock walking into my first gay pool party wearing my first speedo. After that party I was asked to work a few more parties for several other nonprofits. It was at the Outreach United pool party where I was asked at the last minute to model one of the swimsuits from Bayou Beau.” Before he became a model for Andrew Christian, he modeled underwear for Bayou Beau, a Houston based underwear company.

When asked in an interview about doing frontal nudity, (he shows his cute little bum quite a bit for Andrew Christian) Colby said, “I do think we need stronger role models in the gay community. You know, when kids are coming out and they’re looking for who to look up to and are trying to figure out how to be gay–I think that, while I have a ton of friends who are porn stars and do porn and everything, I think we need a more diverse selection of role models for the up and coming gay generation. And, yeah of course, I’m in this video and that photo, but I’m really into philanthropy and everything. And I don’t want to cross the line of ‘Here’s my frontal nudity’ and become vulgar.” While in Houston, most of his modeling had been for charity.  He modeled for the Osito Foundation’s Jocks for Jocks, Pool Parties for Outreach, Live Consortium, and Houston Buyers Club, all events he never received a penny to get in his undies.

When asked about being comfortable with his body, Colby responded that “I don’t have the perfect body but I’m comfortable with it and that’s a message I want to put out there, too, for all of these troubled teens and people that are struggling with coming out and body image issues. Just love yourself. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Colby Melvin is a total cutie and appears to be a cool role model.  I think he would agree with the message to love ourselves and those around us. We should be comfortable with who we are, and I wish Colby all the success in his life.