To my readers......


Thanks for visiting mitchmen, home of Mitchell's Gay Art

The Caps and Collars/ Flat Cap Gang story at Google Groups has been on a break since January, I hope to resume shortly. (see Group News for link)

Message updated 5th May 2024

Sunday 31 August 2014

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Tom of Finland - 3

3 Kake (continued)

Previous articles here: Part 1 and Part 2

Raunchy Truckers

After a strange run of experimental subjects, Tom seems to regain his creative focus in Kake No 10 (Raunchy Truckers). Kake is now working as a truck driver (no motorbike note!). He returns to his old ways by picking up an attractive, young hitch-hiker and assertively seducing him in confines of his cab.

I have a soft spot for this episode of the saga. The hitch-hiker scenario has the adventure of uncertainty built into it (probably more exciting in gay fantasy than reality) and the truck driver directing his mighty machine always seems the essence of masculinity. The cab is his private domain, a man-cave where he is in total control, so Kake does not need to rush the job once the unsuspecting lad is aboard. He overcomes the initial reluctance of his surprised quarry with the assistance of his crew-mate, who contains the young man's initial resistance (above) which inevitably subsides in inverse proportion to the size of his erection. The struggle is gritty enough to raise the temperature, but there's not much doubt by the end that everyone's in the same camp.

The explicit, athletic sex depicted in these books retains it's power to excite and arouse to this day. It can even hold it's head up next to the modern mass of high quality, carefully crafted photographic and video images of real muscle gods having real sex. But when this book was published (ca1970), such material did not exist. Tom's work was hard to find (in the UK police were still routinely seizing anything explicit), but it was uniquely erotic and the liberating impact that it had in a fragmented, lonely and still largely closeted gay world can scarcely be imagined. Tom was not responsible for this 'Gay Spring' but his early suggestive images in Physique Pictorial (see  Part 1) were among the first snowdrops and this Kake series was a flowering of unexpected, stunning blooms that confirmed Summer really was on the way.

Another innocent is lured into Kake's den at home in the TV Repairman story (No 11) and I posted the electric 'moment of realisation' from this story in part 1 (here). This story has a humorous twist as Kake reveals his TV is not broken but just unplugged. It makes you wonder, since hunky and incompetent TV repairmen are not ten a penny, whether Kake's become a stalker.

Service Station

Story No 12 finds our hero working as a attendant in a Service Station where the staff (above) have to wear close-fitting overalls. Tom manages to make them into a very sexy garment (despite the flared legs) and this is more than enough to kick-start the interest of a motorist who calls in to fill up.
As an aside, it's a mystery to me that Tom took so much trouble when he drew motorcycles but never managed to draw a remotely lifelike automobile.

His excitement when he is is invited in to meet two more, equally hunky and sexily-clad mechanics can only be imagined! For me, this modest, uncontroversial four-some (with oil can) is more successful than the free-for-all in Kake 7.

After these two mild, 'carefree sex' stories there's a double-barrelled treat for fetish fans as Kake re-dons his leather jacket (but not his motorcycle) for some sight-seeing, taking in the changing of the guard at what looks like a Central European location. As you would expect, Kake takes up the time-honoured tourist game of trying to make the sentry react or smile, but he forges into new territory with extreme close-up photography and goosing.
Kake Spanked

The aroused sentry gets into trouble with his superior officer and is looking for pay-back when Kake reappears near the barracks. The resulting brawl ends with Kake being spanked, then fucked and even fisted.

It's quite hard to date the Kake stories but you can see here that we are at the time when censorship barriers are really starting to fall around Europe. Tom was taking a degree of risk depicting fetish elements like fisting here but we shouldn't overstate his role, he was reliant on and probably motivated by publishers prepared to push boundaries, they were the real agents of change.

Denmark had opened the door by liberalisation of censorship but there were still legal uncertainties in the rest of the world where the big money was. Fortunately global judicial co-operation mechanisms were still unsophisticated but inevitably the porn publishing field was strewn with unreliable entrepreneurs and seedy chancers and dealing with them was to lead Tom, not for the first time in his life, into losses of work and money at their hands.
The Sounding  of Kake

The rough revenge taken by the troopers is seen by their officer
and, in a re-run of Kake's first encounter with the police,
he is taken into custody as a trouble-maker, stripped,
then subjected to a dizzying succession of fetish punishments and 'tests'
 - starting with the long anticipated 'sounding' (above).

This is an earthquake for Kake fans, quite unlike anything that went before and in it's way quite shocking. I suspect it is a genuine first in gay publishing possibly pre-dating the milestone 1974 S&M video 'Born to Raise Hell'. The sudden revelation of Tom's deep knowledge of such things must have disturbed some and enraptured others.

It's not clear how great his interest was in dungeon scenes, his biographers give little away in this area, but you can tell from tit bits in other early drawings (which I will come back too) that he was interested in erotic sadism. However, he did not return to the dungeon subject in the Kake series, nor did he bother to develop more polished versions of the imagery, commercial considerations may have played a part in this.

There are few dungeon-like scenes in his later work but his lasting interest was shown in 1989, two years before his death, when he produced a dramatic picture showing a uniformed guard whipping the bare back of a chained prisoner in a dark, stone cell*.
It's drawn in a fluid style with crayons and quite unlike his earlier work.
*See Tom of Finland retrospective III, p174

Kake Rides The Saddle

This is the nearest Tom gets to a 'riding the wedge' scenario (see labels at foot of this post for others). I'm not a big fan of simultaneous multiple tortures (like these examples byTagame), but Tom's approach is at least progressive and he does not jump straight to the end result. In 'Raunchy Truckers' he shows the progressive disrobing and invasion of the confused hitcher, not instant nudity and penetration. The journey is as important as the destination. Here too he shows the stripping, restraining and application of each new torment to Kake's body gradually
 - at least he tries to, but 20 pages is not nearly enough.

The drawing here is not his best but nevertheless this work is still something of a tour-de-force. Producing it was swashbuckling adventurism worthy of Kake himself and you have to wonder how much of Tom's character is reflected in his hero.

Policeman Home Alone

Kake 15 is equally controversial in it's own way as a policeman home after work opens his front door in his underwear to find an armed man menacing him. Neither man appears to be Kake. The invader has a sinister appearance with long hair and a droopy moustache. The policeman is a muscular man with blond hair, suggesting purity perhaps but in virtually every other Kake story blond hair signifies desirability and ultimately submissiveness and passivity.
Humbled Cop
The cop is groped and forced to pleasure his attacker (above) before being cuffed to his own bed. As he gives up his ass to the intruder in a rough reworking of the Kake-1 scenario, Tom pans back ironically to reveal his discarded police trousers and boots and a row of body-building trophies on the side-unit, symbols of his authority and physical strength, which avail him of naught at this moment.

There's no pretence of consensus in this story, unless you cite the policeman's sexual response to the attack on him. The two men could be engaged in a rough role play, but there's no explanatory, rueful smiles to be seen. Superficially it reads like a man acting on a grudge or a sexual predator with a more aggressive disposition than Kake himself.

With these two episodes, the hard edge to Tom's work becomes glaringly obvious and fetish enthusiasts will love it. Dennis Forbes writes in the first Tom of Finland retrospective volume 1:- “...there is nothing mean spirited or sinister about a Tom fantasy”. 
Perhaps he never read Kake 15. It is sinister, but that quality does not derive from meanness of spirit, but from having experienced meanness of spirit. The sort of meanness depicted so melodramatically by the Guardsmen in Kake 14. In these two tales it's as though Tom has suddenly found the freedom to vent some deeply held feelings and he deserves to be heard.

Continued in Part 4

Links to previous articles: Part 1 and Part 2

For other artists in the A-Z series click on the label below or search by name.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Tom of Finland - 2


Short narrative picture series like 'The Careless Biker' in Part 1 were a favourite technique for Tom right from his earliest drawings and they eventually developed into the Kake series of picture stories (1968-82) which have come to dominate our view of Tom's work. It's probably the character of Kake that inspires this affection more than the pictures which are simple, unpolished line drawings (the better quality covers are later substitutions). Nevertheless they do contain some gems and a number of extraordinarily erotic sequences exploiting Tom's powers of exaggeration and visual trickery which can never be matched by mere photographs or film. The series conveniently spans most of Tom's career period after he became famous so it's quite instructive to look at it in some detail.

On the Amazon website the Complete Kake Comics are described (presumably by Taschen, the publisher) thus:-

“Kake lived up to this moniker (the word 'Fucker' on his T-shirt), a sort of post-Stonewall, hyper-masculine Johnny Appleseed traveling the world on his motorcycle to spread the seeds of liberated, mutually satisfying, ecstatically explicit gay sex....... Return with Kake to the days when men were men, sex was carefree, and everyone wore a big thick mustache.”

(N.B. Johnny Appleseed was an eccentric folk hero who travelled the US planting apple trees, don't ask me what the connection is!)

Well, everyone's entitled to their opinion, I suppose, including publishers out to make a buck. Actually you'd be hard-pressed to find a motorcycle in any of the Kake stories. Tom uses them in earlier work but by this time he'd joined the real gay world where leather apparel (and bikes) are mostly for show, not riding. I'm nit-picking of course, but as far as I'm concerned, the vision of an altruistic Kake spreading the notion of carefree sex is a very selective misreading of Tom' s work that does him no favours as an artist.

1. The Intruder

There's a narrative link between the first 5 tales where Kake is portrayed as a reckless philanderer who takes other men wherever he can find them, starting in the first story with one who is portrayed as straight and young enough to be still living with his father. The lad is forcefully seduced in his own bed after Kake enters uninvited through the window. This story thus combines two near-universal gay fantasies, (a) being taken by an intruder and (b) opening up the horizons (as it were) of a supposedly straight man. Fortunately for Kake, the object of his amorous attentions passes up numerous opportunities to cry out for help or escape, but I'm not sure this would constitute a defence in court. Kake's explorations are abruptly curtailed when the lad's father arrives and brings this carnival of political incorrectness to an appropriate conclusion by giving Kake a taste of his own medicine while his son looks on. 

Tom moves on to safer ground in Kake 2 with a consensual encounter on the beach (which will have been chosen by the street-wise hero for it's known cruising potential). The men's passion evolves out of a shared cigarette, no doubt echoing Tom's youthful cruising experiences (he is approaching 50 years of age at this time). The measured pace of seduction contrasts with first story. Kake regularly suffers some humorous reverse or painful comeuppance in these escapades and this time he loses his expensive, temporarily discarded leathers to an opportunist thief. He is arrested for public nudity (in Kake 3) by a good humoured policeman who escorts him to the police station there to be summarily subjected to a fierce lashing (below) and screwing by all officers present, before being locked up. This unexpected cameo of police brutality comes as a jolt but is highly erotic. It paves the way for the culmination of the narrative in Kake 5. 

2. Cop's Brutality
This scene is grounded in fact. There's no record of Tom being arrested while out cruising but it's quite likely he witnessed it or knew of men who were caught. (If not in Finland, he also visited pre-war Germany and Britain in the 50's). At the height of the witch-hunts offenders were routinely humiliated by the police, harshly interrogated and pressurised to reveal names and assist in the entrapment of others under the threat of public exposure, which might lead to loss of their job, family and friends. Some sensitive and vulnerable souls were driven to suicide by the ordeal but other gay men who lived through these times seem to have enjoyed the thrill of the danger. Most were never caught and if they were strong in character and not in sensitive situations they had less to fear anyway. The actual punishments were usually relatively mild and once suffered, exposure lost it's sting.

Tom seems to be one of these and able to look back and reinvent the unpleasantness as a sexual fantasy, it's probably human nature to sexualise danger and fear but it gives us some insight into his character. He even introduces a more sympathetic (and receptive) Policeman who samples Kake's cock in the cell and lends him his uniform (another gay fantasy) so he can escape.

3. Boys in the Wood

Freed from jail, Kake makes for the woods, a typical cruising ground to this day. Here the magnetism of Kake's borrowed uniform generates another sexual encounter with two young men in the woods. It's a dangerous attraction for them, but Tom shows, step by step, the correct procedure for authenticating intentions. Kake glances backward invitingly after passing them, waits on a bench further down the path, then a mutual show of bulges (above) wraps up the negotiation and kick starts the action. You can always tell when an artist knows what he is talking about.

4. Punishment of the Thief

At the height of the excitement Kake spots the thief watching them in his stolen leathers and manages to catch him and beat him as a punishment (above). The charming, awkward stance of the lad holding the left leg in this picture suggests the quarry is really struggling! This image looks like it's been serially attacked by internet croppers but it's just a result of too little time being available to redraw the scene. 

5. Cuffed to a Tree

Kake uses the opportunity to seed his chastened captive and then cuffs him to an overhanging branch. Interestingly this is the first time the handcuffs get used in this story and it's plainly thoroughly arousing for all concerned. Compare with Tam's similar depiction of arousal during bondage.

6. A Further Lashing for the Thief

 Kake's new friends take their turn at dishing out the punishment. Encouragingly for fetish fans, it turns out the villain is just as aroused by his punishment as his captors are. This sequence is very good.

 7. Doubtful Rescue

In a devious finale the culprit is handcuffed to a bench, seated alongside the borrowed police uniform. He is left to make his explanations as best he can to a policeman who can be seen approaching through the trees. We already know how police in this town deal with public nudity offences but are left to conjecture the consequences of being in possession of a stolen Police uniform. 

Carefree sex eh? You can't beat it.

(Notice there's another veiled allusion to the practice of sounding in this image - see also part 1).

In these five books, Tom does indeed depict a man who enjoys sex wherever he can find it. But if you waive the humorous gloss, the sex is often non-consensual, Kake simply helps himself and hopes for the best. He is no altruist but a bawdy adventurer in the best traditions of classical literature. The plot line is simple but clever, funny and sexy. The key ingredients are theft and retribution against a background of police dishing out summary justice and incorporates a particularly vindictive revenge twist. This is not mere harmless fantasy, it's much more substantial and interesting than that! To package it up as a heartening fantasy of sexual freedom is selling Tom way short of the truth. 

8. Spurned

At this point in the series (No 6) Tom takes an unexpected direction. The woodland storyline peters out with Kake stealing a muscular Sailor from his female pick-up. The indignant woman storms off to report the matter to a policeman who is seen patrolling in the bushes. We tend to see Tom's cops as a generic fantasy of no particular country but the uniforms are essentially mid-European and the sailor's German-style uniform is a reminder that we (and Tom) are in Europe and this is circa 1968 when gay law reform, let alone liberation has still barely begun, so the woman's action in involving the police is particularly spiteful (and foolish too since she is also flouting the law). As luck would have it, the Policeman likes the look of Tom and his matelot and joins in, lending the woman his truncheon (nightstick) to keep her occupied.

Tom can't have won many friends of any persuasion with this storyline. He experimented with female characters more than once in his career but it seems to have been either at the behest of advisers or simply as a way of imbuing his men with the always-alluring “essence of straight”. You can see from his attempts at drawing women that he never saw them as beautiful and he never portrayed them in a positive light either, but variously as domineering, petulant or simply voracious for sex.

In this instance, they are competition, there to be thwarted by Kake, who rescues the sailor from his own folly and continues his systematic exploration of gay fantasies by testing the belief that all men are available for gay sex if offered the right incentive. This myth no doubt gained credence in the years of oppression (when Tom was in his 30's and active) by the necessity for all gays to 'act straight' in public. Most gay men will enjoy seeing the 'conversion' scenario acted out with such a fine specimen and I suppose it must have some confidence boosting, empowering effect too. However, although Sailors are supposed to be more amenable than most in gay folklore, (due to being constantly cooped up with other men at sea), I wouldn't recommend Kake's 'touch and show' technique. 

9. Joining the Daisy Chain

The artistic drift continues into Kake 7 as the hero moves on to a public toilet for a daisy chain orgy featuring an assortment of male stereotypes. It's the first story in the series where the 'carefree sex' tag truly does apply with no dark overtones - unless you count the late arrival at the ball of the Hell's Angel impersonator who 'introduces' himself by ripping apart the pants of the man at the end. The drawings are raunchy enough, but it's an unmemorable, plot-less, pot boiler and with it's array of contrasting characters it inevitably stumbles into the minefield of fleeting fashions in clothing.

However it is notable for it's chronicling of yet another standard gay pick-up place, the 'cottage', probably in the UK judging by the design detail, which might make this the first of Kake's world travels (long promised in the publisher's blurb). This story also features the first appearance in the series by a black man, stereotyped by his cock-size of course. He's also given a showy outfit more likely to have been seen on the streets of Harlem (or possibly Germany) rather than the London of this time, but it does paint him as the most affluent and best-dressed man in the group, so it's not entirely unsympathetic. There's plenty of other material by Tom demonstrating that he found black men attractive and I will return to this in a later article. Notice, however, how this series continually reflects the happenings and issues of it's time, without campaigning or climbing on the political soapbox . I think it's one of the things that makes Tom's work so real to us, even 50 years on.

10. Searching for Contrabrand

Topicality is even more apparent in the next of this odd group of stories (No 8) which bizarrely features an aircraft hi-jacking scenario. It's an attempt to portray Kake as an accidental hero. Picked out by the hijacker to provide some in-flight entertainment, he is escorted to the toilet for private attention, but his sexual performance proves so distracting that he is able to get hold of the hijacker's gun and take him prisoner, thereby saving all the passengers.

This is strange fare. It's pre-9/11 of course. Aircraft hijackings around the early 70's usually had benign outcomes but they were still terrifying experiences for the passengers and never the stuff of light entertainment, let alone erotic fantasy. Earlier Kake stories are politically incorrect but if Tom was courting controversy, this choice of a sensitive and non-sexual topic seems clumsy and foolish. He was pretty prolific around this time with his new found fame so perhaps he just took his eye off the ball.

Ironically, Tom spots the alternative erotic potential of the customs/security search (above) and exploits it for the first few pages of the tale, but then discards it in favour of the hijack subject. It's a shame since there are considerable comic possibilities involving 'searches' at departure and arrival with scope for smuggling, detention and punishment ingredients as a follow up too. (Sigh!)

Tom repeated the 'Kake as hero' experiment more successfully in No 23 'Wild West' and there's another non-Kake example in the “Jack in the Jungle” series.

11. Errant Husband

Story No 9, 'Coq d'Or', marks the last in this seemingly confused group before Tom returns to form with 'Raunchy Truckers'. Kake's plane has landed in France and he makes straight for a seedy waterfront pub full of drunks, down and outs and men and women of easy virtue, both. It's yet another standard gay venue of the time and he manages to capture some of the atmosphere and danger. Kake picks up a sexily-dressed sailor who might be his brother, their faces are so alike (see above". This 'stereotype drift' is a sign that Tom's attention is not fully engaged and the action drawings in this set are not all they might be. However there's an interesting twist when a wandering husband gatecrashing the party is literally hauled out by his angry, unattractive wife and, in a rare victory for womenkind in Tom's land, taken home for retribution. It's a novel humiliation scenario that makes a nice picture for connoisseurs of that particular art form (above).

Continued in Part 3

For other artists in the A-Z series click on the label below or search by name.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Tom of Finland - 1

The Lasting Appeal of Tom Of Finland

The first male erotic drawing I ever saw was on a cover of 'Physique Pictorial' magazine in a second hand bookshop, when I was still at school. It showed a muscular man, dressed only in jeans and boots, being forced to his knees by a bigger, leather clad companion whose bike he had accidentally damaged. 


Tom of Finland - The Careless Motorcyclist 4 - Chastised (1963)

This erotic depiction of forced submission bowled me over. I had never seen anything like it before. As Valentine Hooven says* Tom's pictures are obviously homosexual and I felt a bit like Robinson Crusoe must have done when he discovered the footprint on the beach - there was someone else like me! So this picture has a special significance for me and I still love it. The artist of course was Tom of Finland and in the years that followed I sought out more examples of his pictures and my interest developed into a lifelong affection and respect for his work.

The lasting impression that this largely non-sexual image made on me was partly due to the subject matter of course. I confess that the erotic juxtaposition of face and crotch was largely lost on me (it was 'hidden erotica' intended for more-knowing eyes than mine), but I was of an age where men fighting men fascinated me and more specifically, good looking men being dominated by others. 

Disappointingly, the wrestling I avidly followed on the television, largely featured fat and ugly men in oversized swimming trunks (this was in the years before American hunks and razzmatazz). The handsome specimens I craved, with fine physiques like those Tom depicted, did exist (e.g. Spencer Churchill and Steve Veidor) but they were few and far between and they rarely seemed to lose or be on the receiving end of any of those humiliating and painful submission holds. But that word 'submission' neatly sums up Tom's scene, for the scolded hunk is only being coerced by a firm hand on his neck and his near-total compliance and humility is what makes this picture so enjoyable. In the story the careless biker's contrition has been encouraged by a spanking from the aggrieved owner (below), but I don't think you need to know that to enjoy his downfall.

2 Tom - Careless Biker 3 - Spanked (1963)

Tom's picture captured and made more real my hunk control fantasy, but it also moved it out of the artificial wrestling arena and into the real world. Hunky, handsome men like this could be seen on the streets and the fantasy of seeing them dominated and controlled thrilled me. The losing man in Tom's tussle was wearing tight jeans, which were everyday clothing and surely the most erotic male garment ever invented. Tom seemed to be able to wring the last drop of sexiness out of the garment. He captured the skin-hugging texture of denim and the characteristic, eye-riveting creasing around body joints. Take the time to savour it in all these pictures here.

It was really this alluring, sensual drawing style that first gripped my attention all those years ago and forms the basis of their lasting appeal. The men's bodies are a beautiful blend of muscularity and litheness and Tom's subtle shading perfectly captures the soft shaping of faces and the rounding, undulations and folded crevices of well-built bodies. The flicks of hair on chest and arms were perfectly calculated to symbolise raw natural manhood, just enough of the beast to excite. You can tell Tom saw men as beautiful creatures and they are unquestionably men not boys. Much of the art of his contemporaries (Spartacus, Art Bob and MacLane, Harry Bush) featured males who were distinctly boyish or in the case of Quaintance, highly stylised, classicised and almost feminised in some cases - and absolutely hairless, due of course to the prudish publishing constraints of the day. 


3 Quaintance – Saturday Night

To give him credit though, Quaintance, whose work Tom admired, did produce sexy depictions of men in jeans, bulges and all, and his picture, Saturday Night, could easily be mistaken for Tom's work were it not for the glamorised, Latin faces and slicked up hair. (Perhaps the gay sexual revolution of the 60's should be attributed to jeans rather than Tom!) 

You can see in this work too a similar seductive style using light and shade to highlight the attractions of the male physique. This painting seems to be partly inspired by the dramatic use of light and shade by classical masters (see example No 1 , No 2), but I believe both these artists were really drawing on something more mundane and much closer to home – the female glamour art of the 40s and 50s. Memorably represented by the paintings on US combat aircraft and advertising campaigns of this era, this art featured beautiful, shapely young women in saucy or alluring poses, in idealised but everyday clothes and in situations which were just about decent but sometimes very naughty. (there's an example here – beware it's female!) Natural endowments were subtly enhanced and the colouring and shading of the picture was specifically designed to highlight those shapely curves, not to introduce drama or atmosphere like the Quaintance above. 
There's a wider selection at Female Glamour Art by Gil Elvgren.

Tom adapted this concept for the male form substituting masculine clothing, traits and characteristics and developing his own pencil version of the figure-flattering shading technique. As it happens, the subdued toning of pencil drawings quite suits the male subject matter and distances the work from the frivolous, female equivalents. By more good fortune also, Tom generally drew clothing - jeans, t-shirts and leather jackets - that is pretty much timeless and I would think an 18 year old today can enjoy it just as I did then. By contrast Elvgren's art remains rooted firmly in it's era and it's original erotic power, deftly fashioned to suit the conventions and fashions of the day has much diminished for modern eyes. 


4 Tom – TV Repairman from Kake 11(1969)

You can easily get a sense of the deadening, filtering effect of time by looking at other Tom images which incorporated fashionable clothing, like the TV repairman (and his Scandinavian space age TV!) from Kake 11. In their day those flares were alluring and highly desirable but now look rather silly and frankly un-Tom-like. (For another scary example try Ringo and the Renegades). 

However, this image is redeemed by it's portrayal of forceful, impertinent seduction. Groped on two fronts, the advance is as frightening as it is unexpected, to judge from the quarry's face. His own submission is yet to come but if the offending flares are cropped out, it earns a place as another Tom classic of dominated manhood . 

As an aside, note also the table lamp design, it adds humour and clarifies purpose (as if that were needed) but not every artist would choose to employ a penis shape in quite such a penetrated way, it seems to suggest Tom had an interest in rather more advanced forms of sexual entertainment.

5 Careless Sailor (1962)

It was some years later when I discovered that the Careless Motorcyclist image which I fell in love with is actually a reworking of an idea from an earlier picture which I have called 'Careless Sailor'. It's very similar in concept and features another iconic stereotype - the sailor in summer whites (sailors enjoy honorary exemption from disapproval of flares!). In this picture the sexual imagery is barely 'hidden' at all, although it's more sophisticated than it seems at first sight – see how the tip of flaccid cock outlined in the blond sailor's trousers is positioned just above the wet stain, it's as though the action has just finished rather than just being started, as you first imagine.

The grovelling, cowed sailor is a beautiful creation and seems to have the same face as the motorcyclist (a continuity that adds the spice of repeated humiliation) but this depiction of him is much more erotic, outstandingly so. His memorable bubble butt is cleverly framed and shaped by side-creases in his trousers but the tightly laced-up waist, contrasted with the glimpse of ball bulge between his open legs makes him seem enticingly unprotected and vulnerable down below. His broad manly shoulders and upper torso add pathos to his plight, the depth of his humiliation, because the sense of him being dominated and forced to his knees, is even stronger in this picture. However, for some reason the pairing of the two men is not quite as successful, the leaning back pose of the top and the more prominent sexual element seems to diminish the sense of anger and threat compared with the biker picture. 

6 Tom of Finland – Careless Motorcyclist No1

These days Tom is often portrayed as a cuddly, father figure and liberationist and in fact the first image in the biker set (above) is a rather heart-warming, mentoring scene in which the wayward cyclist is given instruction in how to start the bike (but unfortunately not how to stop it!). Needless to say the instructor's hand secretly hovers close to an enticing denim mound, but leaving that aside, the affectionate friendship illustrated here (there isn't any obvious age difference) certainly demonstrates Tom's human warmth and his desire to show affection between men as being normal and beautiful. 

Which makes it all the more surprising then that the scene should transition so quickly to anger, spanking and humiliation. Admittedly the final scene (daringly featuring full nudity) does show smiles and suggest reconciliation, but there's a similar paradox in the 1970 picture 'Tethered” (see my recent article 'Just out of Reach' ) where a leather man reacts badly to the efforts of a rather well-hung, young Adonis. Is it just meaningless humour and fantasy? Well perhaps, but Tom is so good at depicting this harder edge that it has to be taken seriously. You can't portray anything well in any art form unless you grasp and know the underlying feelings and motivations. For me it's this harder quality that makes Tom's work great, it's the reason why he appears in this series and I will naturally focus on it, but I believe no assessment of his accomplishments is complete without acknowledging it.

* Quote from “Tom of Finland – His Life and Times” by F Valentine Hooven 

Continued in part 2

For other artists in the A-Z series click on the label below or search by name.

For more articles on 'hidden eroticism' click on the label below


Sunday 17 August 2014

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Toby

I will tip my hat in passing to Toby whose portrayals of baby-faced men pre-date the arrival of the Japanese manga in the West. The example I have chosen, is unmistakeably an adult man with a nicely drawn physique somewhat in the style of Lüger. However, Toby's trademark iconography of youth – the mop of blond hair, snub nose and tomboyish patched knees – was usually assigned to more ambiguous bodies and I would not dream of publishing them or promoting the theme. I just lament for what might have been had his obvious talent been directed towards more mainstream interests. 

Toby's drawings were probably never widely acceptable in their own flower-power era and in recent years the sensitivity to this sort of art has increased considerably - although you would not think it from the flood of 'Daddy' material that has appeared of late. Whether you like it or not, in my view it's a foolish and provocative dalliance in the present climate.

Friday 15 August 2014

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Titus

Titus produced art for magazines like 'Bound and Gagged' around the turn of the millennium. There's not an awful lot of his work around but the imagery in them is striking.

Titus – Dungeon Orgasm

This is one of his best, showing two men apparently trying to train a captive to give a Pavlovian response. He is being forced to induce his own orgasm by riding an anal plug, repeatedly rising up and down on his toes to stimulate his prostate. It would be quite a demanding, physical task at this height, but presumably the conditioning of the captive's libido lends excitement a hand. In Pavlov's classic experiment a dog was taught to salivate at the sound of a bell because it usually meant food was arriving and if you look closely this prisoner is drooling at the mouth as well as his tip. A nice touch. It's not clear what reward he's anticipating instead of food – perhaps his master's intimidating cock or simply being spared the whip. The use of different sized bells are a sophisticated elaboration of Pavlov's idea. I imagine the slave is meant to work harder and harder on his plug as the note of the bell rises in pitch culminating in ejaculation. It would make an entertaining video!

The other striking ingredient of this picture is the master's lackey, in charge of the bell section. He has the striking face of a matinee idol but is a slave himself, locked up in a chastity device of mediaeval proportions. Nevertheless he takes great pleasure in assisting at the humiliation of his fellow captive. Presumably he is not conditioned to respond to the bells himself, otherwise methinks that box would soon wipe the smile of his face. Perhaps he has his own particular musical stimulant!

Titus' drawing captures the predicament of the impaled captive but not quite his effort or the climactic drama of the moment. Compare this picture with Teddy's “Tyrant's Toy” from some years earlier and you'll see what I mean. It's a piece with a similar structure - enthroned master and lackey tormenting a bound slave - but the difference in energy levels and excitement is amazing.

There's actually a passing resemblance to the technical style of Sean in this picture but his earlier work is more naturalistic (see below).

Titus - The Chamber

An athlete in enforced training is temporarily freed from his chains to perform physical exercise pull-ups. His supervisor (fetchingly-dressed in short-sleeve shirt and split-side shorts) encourages him with tugs on the scrotum and secretly makes a video record of the humiliation. The relaxed stance of the supervisor is actually highly suggestive of another activity he could carry out with his right hand if he released the rope, it might make an even better picture of humiliation.

This is perhaps the most familiar work by this artist, but it's quite understated and I'm not sure why it seems to be quite so popular. In a way it's a modern, fetish variation of the classical tradition of artists painting themselves in the process of painting their subjects, Valazquez and other classical artists did this and Tom of Finland and Etienne amongst others picked up the artist and model device (without explicit self-portraiture) as a 'legitimate' way of showing a man undressed before another, with all the subtle undertones of direction and control involved (not so subtle in Titus case!). 

 Titus - Temptation

Once again this image features an observer enjoying, and excited by, the 'predicament' of a bound captive who cannot see him. The interesting angle of vision used here draws us in as well, as furtive voyeurs of both men. Once again it's understated , portrayed as a game (note the penknife stuck in the nearby post offering escape) and the captive is even fully clothed (possibly to comply with a related storyline). Watching men jerking off is an over-rated pastime in my book but I find the pose of the secret observer here extraordinarily erotic. Titus draws some interesting men but unfortunately he often seems to have difficulty attaching cocks to their bodies convincingly. As for the challenge of portraying trussed-up men lying on the floor, see my Tagame article.

Titus – Pillory Spanking

Nearly all of Titus' pictures feature captives being subjected to games and tests designed to humiliate them and this early one featuring a public, college-style hazing represents the most elementary form of this pastime. The humorous slant he adopts is realistic I suppose but tends to dilute the intensity of the fetish fantasy for me. This sort of 'lads together' subject matter reminds me of the work of 50's artists like Spartacus and the drawing style here is similar to his too, but at other times his work resembles the that of Kent (the non-fetish illustrator) and I've already mentioned Sean. I don't think you can pin Titus down.

As far as I know this artist is no longer active and I don't know of a website for him, look in art groups like GMBA (link in sidebar)

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Sunday 10 August 2014

A-Z of Fetish Artists - Thompson (and a mystery)

These fragments are all I have by this artist so I can't comment on his other work but this is a very sexy and tantalising sample featuring bondage and clothes ripping in a fanciful medical scenario. The frames have been badly cropped but I haven't attempted to tidy them up.

 Biceps in Boxes 4 (Nos 1-3 are missing)

It's always nice to see a muscular jock obeying the voice of authority despite his own doubts. I expect pictures 1-3 have been left out because they are fairly tame but I like to see a story unfold and find it quite frustrating when presenters insist on cutting direct to the chase. At least we get to see him undress.

 Biceps in Boxes 6 (No 5 missing)

The physiotherapist turns out to be quite an old man and his close attentions embarrass the athlete, but not enough for him to challenge his authority. It's a delicious power play scenario that gives hope to all those with less than god-like attractions. The interlinked arms here make me wonder what happened in picture 5, is he cuffed behind? However, the text does give some clue to what we missed in Nos 1-3. I think the two frames would probably work better if separated, but it's an interesting device.

  Biceps in Boxes 7

A bit of a leap of faith is required to believe this development, this jock really is compliant! I suppose the physio could have passed his equipment off as a back stretching device. The demands of accommodating comic speech bubbles sadly relegate the old pervert to the role of distant spectator. 

  Biceps in Boxes 8

From this direction the restraint arrangement seems even more improbable, but the appearance of a vicious-looking hook will cheer the hearts of fetish fans! The physio looks ever more sinister, the athlete ever more moist and succulent. There's just a suggestion that he finds his predicament a little bit exciting.

  Biceps in Boxes 9  

What else would you use a hook like that for? The sight of buttocks peeping out over the top of a low waistband is one of my favourite views. If the helpless jock was embarrassed before he now faces the prospect of his ass being exposed to the old man's lascivious view.

  Biceps in Boxes 10

Ripped underwear, yum. You can come again!

  Biceps in Boxes 11

The erotic pleasure trip is suddenly cut short by the artist, no missing pictures I'm afraid! Unsurprisingly the jock is eager to cover his modesty and get away, but we get a glimpse of his tackle. He is seemingly unstirred by his experience - where do you find such men? I'm not sure whether the rays emanating from his balls depict movement or perhaps a tingling sensation, maybe it's a case of blushing buttock.

 Biceps in Boxes 12

The closing dialogue's a bit odd but there's a nice beefcake study for the parting shot. The physio reflects on yet another triumph by age and experience over youth and enthusiasm.

Regular readers will know I'm a bit of a sleuth, tracking down artist identities and trying to solve mysteries but this one has me beat! I'd never heard of this artist until these pictures appeared on GMBA (current link in side bar) a little while ago. The set is incomplete and I've tracked it down to an identical posting on the Rainbow free site in 2003(!). This looks like a magazine comic strip so there must be more but despite numerous clues in the text I've not been able to discover any more about this artist or his work. Does anyone else have any leads?

For previous articles in this series click on the A-Z label below or search for your favourite artist

Monday 4 August 2014

A-Z of Fetish Artists - 'The Overcoat'

The Overcoat
I'm not sure this artist regards himself as a fetish artist, his site at Deviant Art contains mainly vanilla stuff but I thought it was worth presenting this selection picked up via GMBA Group (current link in sidebar). 

The Overcoat – Blindfolded

This single picture earns The Overcoat his entry here, I love the dark, brooding atmosphere. The painting style is quite coarse particularly on the torso, but the amount of character packed into the captive's face is impressive, all the more so considering he's blindfolded so the eyes cannot be seen. The waist level cut-off leaves us guessing about his state of undress but the bold highlights on the right side of the body suggest a figure worthy of inspection.

 The Overcoat – Guide Me

The atmosphere of menacing gloom continues in this picture with clever use of an elevated viewpoint to embellish the pseudo-spiritual subject matter. Allusions to religion are a big turn off for me but it's easy to imagine a secular scenario. 

The simply-depicted face of the monk is striking for it's authentic expression of pious respect, but it's blankness creates a sense that this is a man who is lacking in human warmth and feelings, hence his reliance on a higher power. The crouching, naked penitent seems to have taken on the near-human form of a gargoyle-like beast, a tempting target for chastisement in conventional religious teaching. However, this real-life confrontation with the deformed and despised seems to have given the monk an unexpected dilemma of conscience.

The Overcoat – and a Happy New Year

I like the simplicity of this bondage image, the captive's arms are pulled back just enough to feel the restraint and reveals a body which is refreshingly real, with just a touch of muscle and hair. He's been given another characterful face and looks pretty apprehensive about the situation (threat of a haircut perhaps?). His lack of festive joy at being cast in the role of the 'gift-wrapped man' is an unusual take on the theme and gives the normally clichéd bow of red ribbon a whole new lease of life as a symbol of ownership.

'Overcoat' is a Finnish artist and I suppose the odd choice of name conceals a rather more complicated real one. These dark and brooding pictures certainly fit with our perceptions of the Scandinavian psyche but contain few clues to the artist's thoughts beyond the simple situation portrayed. The pictures in this selection appear to anticipate scenes of unpleasantness, but in other pictures by the artist, the captor is kissing his captive so we're not necessarily in heavy territory here. However, their muted eroticism and lack of explicitness encourages the viewer to imagine for himself. His skill with faces helps in making a connection with the individual portrayed and his helpless state.

if anyone knows where he posts more fetish-y stuff please let me know.
Update:- I have now stumbled across a second gallery for this artist at Deviant Art called 67percentobsession

For previous articles in this 'mitchmen' series click on the A-Z label below