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Thanks for visiting Mitchell's blog

(Oct 28th 2018)

Friday, 30 November 2018

The Art of Colt 3 - Cowboys


Colt Cowboys of the Lüger era have a distinct whiff of Marlborough Man about them. He's the modern day, working cowboy, a 'real' man of unquestionable masculinity, strong and silent. This terrific picture shows two such men, who seem to be trying to explore a mutual interest in each other without compromising their own perceptions of masculinity. It's the sort of situation disappointingly enacted at great length in 'Brokeback Mountain', several decades later. 

Despite the averted eyes, Colt's picture is genuinely romantic on it's own closeted terms, but also highly erotic if you linger over the detail. There isn't a hint of explicitness beyond some deliciously naked buns and bare bottom-halves. No disguised erections or secret touching. Instead a casually cloaking, Indian blanket provides an erotic connection. The short end seems to be not just screening, but lightly draped over a hidden organ and we can imagine the other man also lightly touching it, using it as a shared, mutual 'frottage' device. It's trailing fringe seems to hint (almost crudely) at a state of high excitement .


The same furtive, disinterested air permeates this image but there's no romance at all here. These men don't even face each other, a hand resting on a shoulder being the only hint of an emotional connection.

The seated man has a slightly sinister air. His broad brimmed hat (reminiscent of Quaintance cowboys) hides his face and he doesn't just avert his eyes from his partner, he looks in the opposite direction. He's balanced on his stool as though eager to escape - it's as though he's ashamed of what he is doing. The leg of his stool betrays his inner desire and you'll find this piece of furniture performing a 'hidden eroticism' function in other Colt pictures too. To the knowledgeable watcher, his lightly-clenched fist is arguably more expressive of urgent desire.

The foreground figure sits back, as though waiting his turn or already serviced. He seems to epitomise temptation, facing the viewer with all his goods stacked up in the shop window and a knowing look on his face, half-smiling, as he cocks his hat invitingly at us.

The anonymous, central figure stands above this, not disinterested of course, but detached. He's depicted in a majestically masculine way which the others are not. That hand on the shoulder gesture seems to reflect a confidence in his superior, separate status, at ease with his needs and those who service them, but not part of their world. 

The overall effect is slightly depressing to modern eyes. If a Bible basher wanted to illustrate the dark emptiness and shame of homosexuality, with it's predatory seduction of 'decent' men, he'd find it hard to better this. Of course Lüger is merely chronicling the reality of his own era in which furtive, anonymous encounters were the norm and filled with real danger which generated it's own excitement and urgency. In this context you might equally interpret the foreground figure as an expression of defiance. It's a situation which is largely unknown to us in the West today, but not elsewhere in the world.

It's interesting to compare this image with the Three Sailors in my previous article
which also has a satyr-like third party smugly observing from the fringes. That image however is a confident celebration of gayness. I believe these pictures are near contemporaries, but the contrast in content and technical style suggests much has changed in the intervening period between them.



Colt's flair for depicting the more mature and rugged type of man is a natural fit to the Cowboy scenario and he makes hay here, augmenting that manliness with some of the 'tools of the trade' - the chunky gun belt, the bullwhip and leather gloves. There are spurs lurking in the background too, Colt brings them into view by memorably capturing a casual, crossed leg pose that is characteristically male and brimming with self-confidence. I delight in details like this which neatly encapsulate 'maleness' and demonstrate the observational skill of the artist.

This array of coercive weaponry is intimidating enough but the man's prodigious cock straining at his jeans tops them all. Flaccid, downward-pointing equipment (demonstrated here by his younger companion) seems to have been permitted in this era. Colt demonstrates the absurdity of such rules by using clothing to imply a trapped giant, which is clearly enlarged and aroused but unable to point upwards.

The younger man seems dwarfed but not particularly intimidated, wary perhaps of that monster (which of course is level with his mouth). His crouching pose seems to be symbolic of submission, but he's turned away and the view he's presenting to the older man is highly provocative. If you check the eye-lines you'll see it hasn't gone unnoticed!

The younger men that Colt incorporates into cross-generational images like this often seem to have an exaggerated boyishness, lacking in masculine character almost. The frivolous quiff in his hair and the delicate way he holds his cigarette contrasts with his companion's equivalents, which show a 'real man' casualness. The singlet he is wearing also seems oddly out of place. It shows he has creditable pecs, but doesn't achieve the torso enhancing qualities illustrated in the first picture of this article. In a way it is a charming portrait of a young man, adult and sexually aware, but still growing into his manhood.  In this friendly giant he seems to have found a possibly demanding mentor but an enviably attractive one. (I have always loved the big man's triangle of chest hair and perfectly shaped pecs in this picture).

You might also interpret the collar-like neckerchief and the whip loops as indicative of bondage interest but it doesn't seem a particularly strong element - see below.

 

This image is a detail of a larger picture I've not been able to lay my hands on. It's contemporary with the previous one (1969) but is a much more assertive statement of sexuality. The two mature Cowboys here are more obviously thinking earthy, sexual thoughts - witness the open legs, open mouth and self-touching. The two cocks on display are definitely not flaccid either and there's almost a satirical edge to the piece as the central cowboy seems to be pressing his self-willed cock down so as to conform to the downward-pointing position mandated by the powers that be.

These two are also more overtly rugged and hyper-masculine, displaying prominent body hair and a torn singlet. The central figure demonstrates the correct, manly way to hold a cigarette when it's not drooping out of the corner of one's mouth. (Cupping the hand around the burning tip is a technique evolved to stop it blowing out it in windy locations - like prairies, ships and cruising grounds!).

As in the previous picture, the half-hidden object of interest is a youthful blond. Colt shows him presenting his unprotected rear to the lustful duo. There seems to be an implication that the manly way to have sex is in the active role and that the role of younger men is to tempt and seduce (see Part 1) and service their elders, with the usual overtones of induction and initiation. These are not exclusively gay thought processes as it happens, but we take a different view on such issues today.



The fifties and sixties were the heyday of Cowboy movies and TV shows and somewhere along the line the isolated lifestyle of cattle herders, remote from civilisation for long periods, in isolated groups, earned them a similar reputation to sailors on the high seas, that is for having a taste for releasing their sexual tensions man-to-man. That tag undoubtedly caused discomfort for real Cowboys but makes this pair's casual nudity and mutual preening unmistakeably gay to all and sundry, not just other gays. These two might easily be a couple and there's an interesting resemblance to Tom of Finland's popular Leather Buddy-Lovers image. The playful scene shows a maturing of Colt's imagery beyond sexual innuendo into portraying gay relationships and gay men as normal people who are not defined exclusively by their sexuality. 
Sadly it still required 'nudge nudge' humour to get the message out. 

 

This picture was destined to bring Colt to the attention of the wider world when Malcolm Maclaren added captions and Vivienne Westwood put the result onto T-shirts during the punk era (1975). At that time in the UK, gay sex was legal but only in private and the Police were actively trying to minimise the definition of privacy (to exclude hotel rooms for example). To wear this T-shirt in the street was to flaunt the law and risk arrest and prosecution. For a straight man or woman to wear it was therefore a powerful statement of support for gays and immensely confusing to the hostile Police. Jim French would have approved of such subversion. Apparently he did not get any Royalties for this use of his image. As a gay activist, I imagine he would have thought the exposure of the message and accolade of heterosexual approval worth the price.

See also this interesting article about the Westwood T Shirt


In this picture Colt ingeniously draws on the Cowboy world to produce one of his most audacious rebellions against anti-gay pornography laws. He combines the imagery of riding astride a horse and holding the reins of a stagecoach or wagon to come up with a fanciful simulation of gay sexual intercourse. Once again he mockingly turns the downward-pointing cock rule against the censors. It's pointing in exactly the right direction here, whereas in a more 'realistic', aroused depiction it wouldn't be! There's a strong hint of domination and bondage in this picture but Colt didn't follow that through in other images as far as I can establish.

Read the whole series from Colt Part 1

I haven't found a legitimate source of Colt's artwork, Colt Studio don't seem to publish it now.
An interesting biography/obit written by Bob Mizer in 2017

For other explorations of the art of hidden eroticism, click on the label below.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

The Look of Smug Superiority


Simms asked his friends how to get into Management and was told
"Well, you've got a tongue in your head haven't you?"

Blake Hunter as the boss, Diego Sans as the ambitious new employee
photo courtesy of Men.com
 
This is 'Look' No 14, for others click on the label below

Friday, 23 November 2018

Petit Q goes sexy


Miguel shows us that even the oddest combo can look sexy if you really go for it.
That tongue's a bit off-putting though.

 

This variation on the C-string (with a jock-like attachment to the waistband at the back)
owes much of it's sexiness to the delicious, come-to-bed Andrei
but I find the separate waistband and pouch curiously tantalising,
and yet unmistakably masculine.


It's equally erotic on Addison Graham in this 'Lost in the Desert' image.

 The demands made on underwear models are many-fold
and trekking across the desert is not an uncommon one.

But wait, is that a group of local tribesmen he sees approaching on their horses?
How will they react to this immodest display?

I am reminded of the sad fate of two American airmen who crashed in the desert.
I'd love to see Addison kitted out in similar heavyweight shackles, on his way to market. 
 

Back in the real world, Lucas here is brim full of man appeal in his own right
so credit to Petit-Q for coming up with a pair of briefs that make him even sexier!
Those odd leg hems make you want to get your fingers in and straighten them out.
I can imagine the photographer fiddling with them fruitlessly for hours!



I think we all need a cold shower after that but Lucas looks even hotter.
Showers are pretty commonplace venues for underwear models but
I imagine Petit-Q will have sold out of this style very quickly.
Don't go out in the desert without a minder, Lucas!


Water transforms these briefs too. It's a fairly conventional style but has a nice square-cut leg which the thighs of Anatoly Goncharov fill out very nicely! If you look close there's some clever angled stitching which points to and creates the sexy pouch.


I'm not a massive fan of shower pictures normally, except those like this where the model keeps some clothes on. This example, starring Hector, is extraordinarily sexy despite the rather mundane pose and bland, black and white colouring and I'm sure I don't have to explain why! Contents aside, the garment is sexier than the vintage g-string (which usually look terrible when wet). It looks more like a loin cloth than a modern brief style and so conjures up more fantasies of enslavement.
Don't go out in the desert Hector.







This picture of Addison Graham shows of his physique a treat!
I imagined him storming off in exasperation after a posing demand went too far,
 perhaps involving a camel?
 However the Petit-Q swim bikini (previously seen adorning Thomas Huez
 and Junior Rodrigo) is not ideal desert wear.
Who knows if another caravan of mercenary locals might be lurking nearby?
Underwear photos by Petit-Q 
 
 There's a massive collection of Petit-Q stuff at Mensunderwearsource

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

I'm having another word with my agent about this!

Dylan Knight is a versatile porn star of considerable experience,
so when he got his Petit-Q assignment he probably thought he could handle anything that came up.


A conventional underwear pose with matching curtains? No problem.

Credit to Petit-Q, Those modestly-styled underpants seem to show 
Dylan with a remarkable bulk, that appears to be unenhanced.

However Arthus and Nico at Petit-Q had thought up a special humiliation for sweet Dylan.


They persuaded him to cavort with those blue silky drapes - clad only in a C-string.

I must say I love the effect of nakedness created here, in some ways more erotic than nudity itself.
The bondage-like suspension seems to make the model alluringly available to be touched.

At the same time it's very arty and balletic and the glum look on Dylan's face suggests
that this arrangement might just have tested his masculine self-assurance,
which he expresses so freely through his sexual exploits (below)


Dylan Knight & Markie More at Next Door Studios (click to enlarge)

Now, if you have been neglecting your underwear fashion trends recently
and don't know what a 'C-string' is exactly.......


This is it.
A C-string is a bag with a furry(?) rim that encloses your tackle and nowt else.
It's held in place by a curved plastic 'tongue'
that passes underneath the crotch and fits between the ass cheeks
(see how it is put on)

This design looks erotic as we have seen and it probably feels very nice too
 but the aesthetic result, seen from behind, leaves something to be desired.

Patriot C-String - click to enlage
I imagine this might be fun to wear under your work clothes (that workman's overalls?)
but that prong would probably show through suit trousers if you took your jacket off
and who knows what would happen if you sat down?

If you wore it for doing 'naked' housework 
it might attract unwelcome tweaking from housemates. 


I certainly wouldn't recommend it for shopping. 
(Where would you keep your small change?)

However, I digress, we haven't finished yet with Dylan's problem photo-shoot



You see, Dylan has been given a special version to wear, 
which makes 'The Patriot' (above) look quite tame.
He's got the 'Devil C-String' on, 
which as you can see sports a fetching, plastic, pointed, tail-piece.
Ideal for Halloween parties? ....erm.......yes. Poor Dylan!
(For those interested in more see Devil C-String here) 




Dylan's not alone in his professional embarrassment.
Marc Shephard was spared the Devil's tongue (!) and got the conventional design.
But you can see he's still not very happy about it.
Which may explain the 'half full' look (or is it half empty?)
(and the smile of the happy shopper above!)

I suspect he may have had another mishap in the dressing room.
Yep, another 'wrong hole' situation, with the prong this time.
And now before the lens, it's too late to rearrange it

He'll be having a word with his agent about this!
~
With apologies to the models and Petit-Q crew for poking fun at them!
and to the many folk who enjoy the innocent pleasure of wearing exotic garments like this
I agree they can look and feel very sexy indeed (see next time).

 There's a massive collection of Petit-Q stuff at Mensunderwearsource

Saturday, 17 November 2018

I'm having a word with my agent about this!

The trials of modelling assignments know few bounds. Water sprays, mud smears, derelict buildings, weird make-up - it's all in a days work for a model. However a job for an underwear brand called 'Petit-Q' might ring alarm bells. Not just because it's French, we won't go there, but 'petit' (i.e small) is not an adjective the average hunk likes to associate himself with - and we all know underwear models are hunks, right?
As for the Q bit, that sounds like the code for 'gay' used back in the bad old days (remember Q-International?) and not all models are gay are they?

So the hunky men featured in this article may have felt a slight tremor of anticipation as they arrived at the photographer for their 'Petit-Q' assignment. But they can hardly have imagined just what was in store for them.



On his day, DW Chase is one of the sexiest men on the planet
but you can almost hear him muttering "WTF!" here
as he puzzles over this sort of, half-garment
He's probably wondering if  he has put it on correctly.
Or indeed whether it's actually all there.
'I'm having a word with my agent about this', he thinks to himself.


Hunky Michael Fitt has the opposite problem.
Two for the price of one it seems.
Does that mean twice the fee for my services, he wonders?
I don't think this fashion will catch on, but I like the view.


From his face, you'd guess Marc Shephard (which is spelt 'hard' not 'herd')
must be as tough as they come and not a man to be messed with.
So it's not altogether surprising to see him gritting his teeth thoughtfully about this.
That wry smile is about that mishap in the dressing room,
a 'leg in the wrong hole' moment while putting it on. (It's easily done).
He thought he must have torn it, but no-one seems to have noticed.

  

Here's Junior Rodriguez, wearing the same garment properly.
He seems like a man of the world, and is showing a bit more style
 (and intriguingly different hair if you compare the two boys 'windows' !)

But that suspicious look on his face suggests he's just got a whiff
that Marc Shephard was wearing it just a few hours before him.
The sharing of intimate apparel with other men is not in his contract,
and once you start thinking about it, under hot, studio lights.........
Cheer up Junior, the next model to wear it will be getting your oily sweat!


Theo Ford's having problems with those straps
but no matter how much he adjusts his 'braces'
 the mini pouch won't quite cover his assets 
It's his root which is the root of the problem.
Isn't there a bigger size? -  he seems to be asking.


Meanwhile, Thomas Huez is looking for the way out.
He thinks this style makes his bum look big
as though it's straining at the side straps to escape.
When asked, the photographer agreed with him,
but he thought he was complimenting Thomas by saying so.



Meanwhile DW is on sit-down strike
this see-through strangeness warrants a bigger fee, me-thinks.
He can't help looking sexy though and that's got the photographer snapping furiously. 
Unfortunately that mesh gives you a real wedgie when you squat like this.
It's enough to make your hair curl. Get a move on mate!


Models who are famed for being 'Not Gay' (I forget his name),
like clothes to make them look butch - check out the watch for example.
Something that flattered ones manhood might have seemed like a good idea
But if it makes your cock look like a badly wrapped butt plug.......?

Judging by that faded 'professional smile'
he's just realised it might give folk the wrong idea about him.
and he didn't really need the money either.
He's having a word with my agent about this! 

~

This crowd don't know it but they got off lightly,
more frivolities next time!

With apologies to the models and Petit-Q crew for poking fun at them!
and to the many folk who enjoy the innocent pleasure of wearing exotic garments like this
I agree they can look and feel very sexy indeed  (see below).


Junior Rodriguez brings his ample professional charms to 
Thomas' discarded side string 'swim bikini'
but he still looks as though he smells a rat (or something) 
or perhaps he just refused to pose them on the beach
(for other 'clothes sharing' fantasies click on the label below)

 
 
Meanwhile Andrei picks up the harness after Theo Ford gave up on it.
Who wouldn't want to come home to this!

There's a massive collection of Petit-Q stuff at Mensunderwearsource

Monday, 12 November 2018

The Art of Colt 2 - Sailors

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/_8k6NMhWMI0g/SWOD4xwjZ9I/AAAAAAAAAnE/RU8sy-1g6Vs/s640/67+Luger+-+sailor+in+basket+chair+60s.jpg
Lüger - Sailor in a Basket Chair 1
 Sailors are a key element of gay iconography and this is a sexy image, but it's the sheer quality of this picture that attracts admiration. The masculine authenticity of the man's face and his languid pose transmits a sense of intense realism through a thin veneer of stylisation that is quite different to Tom of Finland's brand of 'photo-realism'. The chair itself is a design classic from a fertile era of 'new looks' and it's angular shaping complements the planes and surfaces which the artist draws our attention to in the man's face and limbs.

The 'Lüger Period' produced some memorable images at a time (1960's) when gay Art works were allowed slightly more freedom, but the phenomenon which I have tagged 'hidden eroticism' still flourished with artists and their viewers playing the game of spotting the visual innuendo. Thus Sailor in a basket chair daringly features semi-nudity, but it's 'bottom half' nudity, so not exactly devoid of erotic intent. (For my money that combination is more erotic than full nudity even though the buttocks and sexual organs are hidden). There's no-one else around in the picture which might suggest something indecent is going on, but the man is clearly flaunting his assets, even if he's posed like a matelot casually relaxing between watches.

This much would have been perfectly apparent to any censor. So too, probably, the way the chair seat curves up between the sailor's thighs in a cupping shape that is very suggestive. However I suspect they might not have realised that Lüger's cloaking foot (and what a splendid foot it is!) is as fetishistic for many men as a cock and they would express their adoration in the same way - by sucking it. It's no coincidence either that the vertical row of sailor toes is positioned exactly where an erect organ would be and it's even drawn to resemble one with fingers wrapped round it. This picture was available in the UK around 1966 (as a Dutch import) and was published alongside more explicitly nude images that still had to be censored.

The world has changed but similar publishing restraints still prevail today in social media and lead to equally ingenious attempts to get round them and push boundaries (have a look at Colt Studios Instagram account and you'll see what I mean). At least today, being caught out merely leads to banishment from the media platform and not prison or confiscation of the offending artwork, as was the case in olden days.

Jim French - Sailor in a Basket Chair (Reference Photo)
 Lüger drew a number of pictures featuring sailors sitting in this chair. I know of at least 6 different images and this reference photograph doesn't match any of them exactly, so I imagine there could be more. The fact that the model's G-string is transparent here also suggests that there were some much more explicit variants too, presumably available to selected patrons under blank covers. This photograph also gives us an idea of just how the much the artist enhanced his model's appearance in the final picture,
elevating it into the realms of sensuality

Lüger - Sailor in a Basket Chair 2
This image on the same theme is closely related to the photo above and although this older man's assets are enclosed by white underwear it's scarcely less sexy. I suspect the erotic detailing of his 'bulge' has been subtly censored with a flat white overlay (to the right) but that intervention has perversely created an oddly-shaped, but more impressive bulkiness. The equally erotic region underneath has escaped this attention, allowing a glimpse of buttock cleavage and a ball-sack shaping and enclosure that could not have been created naturally by the underwear of it's day. The mature appearance of this man and his totally immodest pose, struck while dressed in a sailor's uniform, challenges conventions too and is quite shocking in it's own way. No need for hidden eroticism here! Notice that once again the feet get star treatment.

Lüger - Three Sailors Off Duty

 This remarkable image is a fore-runner of the '3 men' tableaux for which Colt is well known. The foreground sailor has a splendid rear which the artist has showcased by cropping his top, a device that almost goes unnoticed by the viewer at first. This idea is borrowed from surfer/beach boy fashions and the sailor's youthful credentials are further enhanced by the jaunty tilt of his cap, allowing a sexy lock of curled blond hair to escape. The cigarette in his hand suggests an attempt to assert his masculinity which is quite charming. The sock dangling from his hand signals that he is in the process of undressing, but it's shaping is a none-too-subtle reference to a dangling cock.

The interest of the reclining sailors in him is undisguised too, the older man on the left being a particularly striking, self-consciously manly image. The sense of cross-generational lust in his face is quite unsettling (but it's all refreshingly legal!). The third sailor has a more youthful appearance but his sly, knowing, (dare I say 'queenly'?) smile seems to speak of equally profound experience and desire. It's like they are both weighing up the new recruit and suddenly his neatly-pressed, but vandalised uniform and the soft dangling sock reduce him to a naive, awkward appearance under their gaze. It creates the sense that they intend to induct him into the self-contained and isolated world of warships at sea and mentor him in the darker mysteries of naval discipline and order.

This sort of naval scene is echoed in the work of other contemporary artists of the 60's, like Tom of Finland, Art Bob and Spartacus. This interest seems to reflect a nostalgia for the wartime years of shared struggle and a belief in homoerotic comradeship existing in the safely private, all-male environment of ships.  

Lüger - Sailors Scrubbing the Deck
This image has similar cross-generational mentorship vibes to the last one but darker in nature. It's a rather more risqué age pairing too, saved - in the modern era at least - by reference to call-up ages. The young sailor, reduced to scrubbing the deck in his boyish underwear is clearly being humiliated
and dominated, we may surmise, by the old tar behind him.

The juxtaposition of head and crotch is so artfully innocent here as to present a real conundrum for would-be censor, but the knowing eye sees a young man's cock-worship interrupted by our arrival.
(are we supposed to think here of the old song 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles?).

The older man's 'spyglass' pose of course alludes to even more intimate matters in the pipeline, so to speak. Coupled with his overtly sexual pose, it's a none-too-subtle hint that this boy is about to loose that virginal innocence and cleanliness so cleverly encapsulated in his appearance by the artist.
Notice though that the artist gives us the tiniest glimpse of the older man's underwear as a reassurance that it's all quite decent really.

Lüger - Drunken Sailors
Another traditional song reference here and a more traditional view of Sailordom laced with homoerotic fantasy that gives an unequivocal answer to the question in the song title.
You could just grab the yummy guy on the ground and run off with him couldn't you?


In a way, this marks a transition from the Lüger brand of muscular, erotic assertiveness to the beautiful figure drawing and cheerful sexual celebration which was to be more characteristic of the Colt era. Strictly speaking the changes in Jim French's 'name labels' (Arion - Lüger - Colt) were driven by his commercial projects (see bio here), but they also reflect the changing moods of the 60's as gays (as a group) gradually came out of the closet. This image reflects rather nicely the heady intoxication of that initial liberation, although, paradoxically, Sailors and other members of the military were not allowed to be included in it. It was really just the start of a journey not the end. A journey still unfinished.

For me, these Sailor images are amongst Colt's finest work 
and as good an example of Homoerotic Art as you could wish to find
 (and I use the capitals deliberately).

Continued in Part 3 - The Cowboys
Read from Colt Part 1

I haven't found a legitimate source of Colt's artwork, Colt Studio don't seem to publish it now.
An interesting biography/obit written by Bob Mizer in 2017

For other explorations of the art of hidden eroticism, click on the label below.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Another Red Trunks Sighting



Those sexy red trunks didn't seem to bring Alex Oliver much luck
Now Nathan FX seems to have acquired them.
I have a bad feeling about this!

Photo of Nathan FX and Garrett Thomas courtesy of Wrestler4hire.com

Saturday, 3 November 2018

The Art of Colt 1 - Beach Boys

I first mentioned Colt in this blog in an early article about Images of Sailors, which featured the splendid Sailor in a basket chair (of which more later). That was in 2009 and I'm surprised it's taken me so long to get around to looking properly at his work. He was an accomplished artist and a major influencer in the era of gay liberation. His images were published in the 1960's when gay men were starting to make their voices heard and freedoms started to be granted, but restrictions on publishing nudity, let alone explicit sexual imagery, were still very severe (especially in the UK).

Arion - Fire Island Ferries

Colt was the final artist name adopted by Jim French, but his earliest pictures were published under the name 'Arion'. That name alludes to classical sensibilities, a technique often employed by gay artists in the 50's (e.g. Spartacus) to help cloak their wicked erotica in respectability. However, French, in the picture here, has clearly abandoned that pretence.

He often featured the beach boys of Fire Island and this image showing muscle boys arriving for their vacation with coiffured hair and hand bags (not to mention wacky, saucy fashions and bulging groins) gently pokes fun at his contemporaries but also seems to push back directly at conventional stereotypes by taking ownership of them. "This is who were are", it says and the restraining ropes of convention will be left behind at the quayside.

Arion - Shack or Rack?
 This image is a slightly more subtle invocation of the free and easy lifestyle of that infamous holiday hot-spot. The subject is much more straight-looking and posed like a Film Star. The suggestive open fly makes his erotic intent clear but the coded sign posts would be puzzling to an outsider viewing the image. I must admit that I can only guess at what they mean! I imagine 'Rack' refers to the meat-rack on the beach where the pretty boys flaunt their wares, while 'Shack' refers to a more secluded place where serious hedonists can meet and have fun in private. If you know better or can confirm, please add a comment!

You can see French's more mature style developing here, the sensual rendering of generous musculature and the precise details like hands and feet. We know French used photographs to assist his creative hand and the creases in the jeans are a dead giveaway of that source. For some reason our eyes don't register that zig-zag effect quite the same as a photo does!

More importantly you can see how he is reinventing the censor-friendly, 'just boys having fun' art of the 50's here, evolving it into something more overtly sexual. At this point in the US you can see that all sorts of suggestive shaping was permissible but not actual organs. In the UK this image would not have been publishable for many years to come.

With this attractive figure French/Arion is also illustrating an overtly gay and clearly enjoyable lifestyle. Contrast that with another contemporary view, the equally luscious beach boys of Harry Bush which are usually portrayed as god-like temptation from a different, inaccessible world.


Lüger - On the Beach
It looks like the man in the middle here has been showing off his muscles, an unguarded moment allowing his flimsy G-string to be tugged off. The assets revealed seem to have been less than impressive and the drooping waist-string held by the mischief-maker suggests something else is also drooping and contributing to the merriment of the onlookers. The hand positioning implies the possibility of illicit, intimate contact and shows that 'hidden eroticism' is not yet extinct at this point in time.  

By this time French had adopted the name Lüger, indicative of the harder masculinity to come perhaps, but this image seems more representative of the Arion era. The mood seems to hark back to the frivolities of the 50's, but the interaction between the figures is much more overtly flirtatious and sexual. The same sex couples in the background assign a sense of normality to the scene, subtly asserting the gay lifestyle again. 

Colt - Boy on the Beach
In this memorable image French/ Lüger shows his artistic credentials - and his romantic ones. This study of a boy reclining is beautifully observed with his beach paraphernalia elevating the image from academic realms to the real world. Small wonder that the passer-by's head has been turned! Admiration from afar is another authentic facet of gay life, much documented in the 60's but not so much today although it certainly hasn't become obsolete with our greater freedom! Notice how the wind-blown reeds not only hide the observer's 'delicate regions' but also give us a hint of his sexual response. Compare this subtlety with Tom of Finland's interpretation below.

Tom of Finland - from 'Kake 2'
 Tom sees the scene from the cruising man's perspective
He's intent on sex and his idea of beauty is also sexual in nature.
Sorry, no romance on offer here!

In The Art of Colt Part 2 I look at Sailors.

I haven't found a legitimate source of Colt's artwork, Colt Studio don't seem to publish it now.
There's a decent Colt Collection at Daddy's Here or just Google the name.
There's an interesting biography/obit written by Bob Mizer in 2017