|Vic Siepke (spectrum)|
|Billy Joe Carr (WPG)|
WPG here presents it's gay audience with an image no different in substance from it's heterosexual equivalent. The relaxed, informal, smiling pose with erotic zone to the fore and eyes engaged with the audience therefore has a 'normalising' effect. Formal beefcake/body builder poses which made up much of 1950's fare were intended to be non-sexual and that made lusting over them seem furtive and inappropriate (and also relatively unrewarding). In this different style of picture Billy Joe says it's OK to admire my body and desire me, acknowledging the gay audience.
The playfulness of this pose draws on a common heterosexual stereotype where the decorative belle is carried aloft by her muscular beau. This simple juxtaposition is therefore daringly suggestive of men playing different sexual roles. There's also a contradictory, jokey implication that the 'strong man' underneath is not strong enough to lift his partner and we see too that his pouch is very small, underlining the subversive suggestion of the reversal of the 'normal' roles.
The G-string worn by the chap on top is barely visible and the impression that he is nude is just as challenging to social mores. While hiding the sexual organs of a nude with foreground objects and body parts gradually became acceptable, touching was still not, not even in heterosexual images. It's a moot point whether interposing a flimsy, posing pouch made it any less sexual.
The top man's apparent nudity also draws attention to the improvised, artificial modesty of his companion. Once again we see that G-strings are not really fit for purpose as 'active wear'! There's an element of intrinsic vulnerability and insecurity in the garment which stems from it's crude simplicity and is readily apparent in this shot where it's no longer pulled flat against the abdomen. That looseness makes you wonder about the one behind his head.
This is not a particularly ourstanding image, but it demonstrates how posing pouch 'duos' are full of interesting undertones and I plan to return to this subject at a later date.
|Don Farr by Scott of London|
The model's slightly apprehensive look and stiff pose suggests an uneasy relationship with the photographer. That is the stuff of fantasies and elevates the image from familiar beefcake to unexpected eroticism. That sense of vulnerability which the posing pouch conjures up contributes to the story. It offers modesty whicle concentrating the male essentials into one very obvious and highly grabbable handful.
|George O'Mara (by Kris?)|
Paradoxically, the posing pouch, intended to preserve modesty and decency, became a fetishistic object in it's own right. Because it had no other purpose than to contain and conceal men's gentitalia it came to represent them to the intended audience. It's inaccessibility became it's attraction.