Don Fuller's bag of sweets might be the ultimate in grabbability. The contouring is supremely smooth and modest but it's bulk (whether genuine or not) is unmissable. The natural-looking pose of the model and close cropping of the image brings out strongly his masculinity. The whip in his hand adds power to that impression and with it's strategically-positioned, dangling loop of leather it is a visual proxy for the contents of his G-string. In addition, the shadow it casts emphasises the pouches roundness and thereby it's size. The shadows across Don's thighs are actually reminiscent of garters and stockings, I suppose this may be the photographer's deliberate joke.
|Jim Dardanis (WPG)|
Although this picture also utilises a weapon as an accessory and nature as a backdrop, it couldn't be more different. There's no close-up or cropping, so instead of drinking in the model's masculinity, we are invited to admire his lithe, leanness and gritty muscularity. These qualities are emphasised by his artistic, stretched, arching pose. The emphasis of the composition is weighted towards Dardanis' arms and shoulders which frame his face. His physique also lacks Don Fuller's plushness, but nevertheless the G-string contributes an erotic flavour to this rather severe pose, one which it would entirely lack if the model were clad in swimming trunks. It's untidiness and flimsy appearance is both endearing and sexy in this context and it also has that element of grabbability - although this time we are given an impression of complexity and shapeliness rather than bulk.
There's more iron-mongery in this picture. In this wilderness setting Jim Drinkward's chain seems even more incongruous than the weapons in the pictures above. However, it gives him an excuse to flex his muscles and show off his smoothly muscled body. The nicely-proportioned posing pouch does not look visually out of place here. It's simple, minimal functionality also fits in with the mild allusion to antique slavery. It's chunky shape is not exactly grabbable but it stands out suggestively enough to make the model's open pose, copying that of a spreadeagled prisoner, extremely inviting. (Others equally might see here a Greasetank-esque predator, flexing his muscles as he awaits a fitting subject for his chains to happen along.)
For gay men in the 50's/60's, an interest in captivity and slavery was inevitably linked, on the one hand to their own lack of freedom to express their sexuality and on the other to fantasies relating to the unavailability and potential hostility of desirable sexual partners. In this context the model's very modern, boy-next-door look in the image above is a powerful ingredient, dispelling any notion of historical reenactment.
This image has some similar characteristics with a submissive, kneeling pose taking the place of Drinkward's implied restraint. This model has an equally beefy build and there's a military flavour to his haircut. He seems to be offering up his bicep for some sort of inspection (or perhaps his wrist for binding). It all seems to amplify the sense of vanquishment. In this position, the projecting shape of his pouch, unwittingly thrust forward, is more suggestive than if he were wearing nothing at all.
|Harold Adducci and Paul Labriola (WPG)|
There's a distinct sense of weightiness to Harold Adducci's pouch in this three-quarter perspective and a sense of containment that is most erotic. Labriola's mostly-hidden garment (visually signposted by deliciously, converging muscle contours) looks as though it might be under even more pressure.
This depiction of non-wrestling is highly stylised classicism like the picture of Jim Dardanis above. Averted eyes are the order of the day with just the tiniest hint of intimate contact at the back of Adducci's thigh. The skimpy pouches are the sole erotic ingredient, but all the more powerful for that contrast and isolation. We are free to imagine of course how those pouches (and their contents) might fare if the combat ever gets going.
AMG studio of course was even more noted than WPG for it's 'wrestling' imagery. It's interesting how often the iconography of violence and captivity surfaces in these pictures. However, it's probably less to do with present day notions of sexual S&M than we might imagine. Fighting has always been seen as a manly pursuit (perhaps less so in our more thoughtful times). Also in the post-WW2 era, popular culture was full of memories of that conflict. War films and comics, Westerns and Historical Epics all incorporated fighting, often laced with a degree of male nudity and linking the masculinity of soldiering to fighting for the good cause. It was sensible then for gay erotica to exploit and emulate that.
|Phil Lambert (WPG)|
Phil Lambert presents a very different subject for the G-string to adorn. With hair tumbling over his eyes and a moderately hairy torso and limbs there's a real, youthful maleness about him that tests the acceptability of the garment usually seen on smoother bodies. It does seem a little out of place, especially in this relaxed, every day sort of pose which seems is as if he is listening to his records (as young men did then). Imagine mother coming in and finding him like this! In a way that incongruity (like the oily skin) serves to accentuate his nudity and alerts us to the contrived nature of a photographic shoot, where he must do as he is told. That said, the pouch, though not exactly bulging, is promisingly full and presented in a way that can only be described as 'deceptively tempting'.
|Gene Licka (WPG) click to enlarge|
There's not a lot that's deceptive here. The projecting mound of Gene Licka's pouch is the whole point of this picture and any red-blooded, passing rambler might be drawn to make a closer inspection. There's a tempting handful on display and it also shows the model's thighs and torso to alluring effect but somehow, despite this, it's not exactly erotic.
I personally associate this static, crab-like pose with girls wearing skirts tucked into their knickers although it does occur fleetingly in male gymnast's tumbling routines. Quite why Gene is performing it in a running stream is unclear, unless it's for the challenge of escaping from it without falling in the cold water.
|Unidentified British Model|
I have featured the US studio WPG heavily in this article and by way of counter-balance - counter-weight might be a better term - I finish with this British Model who I have yet to identify. His is not the prettiest face in this post and his physique, though well developed, is a little lumpy, the hunched pose (intended to promote his supper body) somewhat ungainly. And yet this picture sizzles with maleness and sexuality, helped in no small measure by a G-string that is not only well packed and nestling between impressive, weighty thighs (phew!) but which seems to be infused with the air of sweatiness and decay (imminent failure even!) usually reserved for elderly, well used, worn out underwear. In fashion and artistic terms it looks terrible and the model's look seems to convey his own dismay and discomfort at being asked to wear it. For mitchmen-ites, that only adds to the powerful erotic effect of an unexpectedly memorable image.
More next time
Read this series from Part 1