LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

HARD CANDY FOR THE EYES: "Extensions" Book Review & Interview with Angel Colon



(Photographer/author Angel Colon & Jed Ryan)



"EXTENSIONS": Book Review
Hard Candy for the Eyes

     If a picture is worth a thousand words, then every eye-popping pic in the book "Extensions"is worth a thousand "Woof!"s.  The man behind the lens is magnetic photographer Angel Colon, and his mission is "the exploration of masculinity and the nude male body".  "Extensions" features 11 diverse male models in both color and black-and-white portraits.  These aren't the kind of soft-focus nudes that you may have seen in other high-end art books of males au naturel, however There's an up-close-and-personal intimacy in the pages of "Extensions" which push the boundaries of erotic male photography.  It will no doubt shock some-- but will delight many more!  At his Christopher Street studio, the graphic artist, photographer, and self-proclaimed "homebody" Angel Colon met me to talk about his new libro de fotografías: 

JR: Thanks for meeting me.
AC: My pleasure!

JR: John Waters, in his movie "A Dirty Shame", had a scene where a self-proclaimed bear declares, "We're husky, we're hairy, we're homosexual... and out of the second closet!".  The movie is a farce, but do you think that there's still a stigma about being a big, hairy guy in the gay community?
AC: Oh, absolutely!  There's so much "body fascism" in gay culture.  I mean, it's glaringly obvious.  If you pick up any magazine that is "mainstream gay", they have thin hairless models wearing very, very tight clothing.  You don't see a guy who's fuller, who's rounder, or even who has more facial hair... unless it's that really overly manicured facial hair, which is barely facial hair.  It's probably drawn in with a pencil, or Photo-shopped in, for all I know! (Both laugh) Mainstream gay culture tends to be very youth-oriented, or kind of "Peter Pan"-ish, I hate to say: not wanting to grow up.  Generally when you see a guy who is bigger, fuller, rounder with more facial hair, you think "older"-- and young gay men never want to grow old.  I do see body fascism.  Even in the bear community, there's body fascism, as everybody is aware of.  "Muscle bears" versus "gainers"; hairy versus non-hairy; blah, blah, blah...

JR: Exactly!  So, was "Extensions" your first book?
AC: No.  It's my second book, actually.  My first book, a small one, was called "Hirsute".  It was a thin book.  I started with a few guys.  I like taking pictures of guys who look more "masculine"-- I say that in quotes, because as we know, "masculine" depends on the person.  It's very subjective.  I did that, and "Extensions" was the second book, because the first one did pretty well.  A lot of people talked about it.  I did a smaller-sized book this time but with more pages, and I varied the men.  Not all of them are hairy, although there is some facial hair on everybody.  And, they're not all built like "bears".  Some of them are thinner, some are very muscular.  That's the idea of "Extensions"-- I "extended" the idea of "Hirsute" into something else.  The third book will probably be called "Kink"!  Who knows?  We'll see!

JR:  I can't wait for that one!  How did you select the models for "Extensions"?  
AC: Most of the guys I already knew.  Some of the photos I had taken before I considered putting the book together, and the guys fit the criteria for what I was doing with the book.  So, they were easy to add in.  Or, they were referred to me. I have recruited one or two people, but that was after I had actually met them.  I didn't contact anybody cold to ask them if I could take their pictures for my book.  There were one or two people who I met online who had seen my first book, and we got to talking, and then we started taking pictures together.  But, it wasn't specifically for "Extensions".  It was later that they were added in.

JRDid any of the models get cold feet at the last minute?
AC: No one really got cold feet.  I gave the models a little bit of leeway as to what shots they wanted me to use or not use.  I wanted the person to feel happy when they look at the pictures.  I always try to work with the person.  I don't want them to feel that it wasn't a flattering shot.  If there is one picture I really feel strongly about, I will try my best to argue for using it.  But in the end, this person did this for me, and I don't want to alienate someone who I may want to shoot again in the future.  I work with them, usually.  But in the end, it's my decision which pictures go in.  There's one guy that I photographed who doesn't want any frontal nudity.  Being nude was fine as long as the twig and berries weren't showing! (Laughs)  I worked with him.
JR: That's the best part, though! (Laughs)
AC: Well, that depends on the individual.  Some guys are "butt men", some guys are "hairy chest men", some guys are "foot men"!  It depends on the person!  In general, I always play by the models' rules.  I'm just lucky to have guys that are very exhibitionistic. And, a lot of the guys that I know are nudists, so they have no issue whatsoever.

JR I noticed that some of the models in the book are older.  Do you feel society is changing in in terms of our ageism?  Will be able to accept the fact that guys over the age of... say, 50, can be attractive and sexy?
AC: Well, we do!  Look at Sean Connery.  That man is probably older than dirt, and women would still sleep with him.  George Clooney, people like that... they are approaching 50, and they're still considered very hot.  Of course, Hollywood stars are one thing.  They can afford to have plastic surgery, and can afford to have people dress them and make them look good.  But, it's changing.  People are living longer.  So, yes, the sexuality and attractiveness of older men and women is being emphasized.  But, we're still youth-oriented.  I mean, everyone is youth-oriented.  We're all geared towards setting the youth of the next generation on their way, and making them the light of the future... so, there's always gonna be youth obsession.  Always.  Not to mention, a young body is tight.  They can eat whatever they want, do whatever they want, and never gain a pound.  Again, people we hate! (Both laugh).  I don't see any problem with it.  It's just a question of changing your perception. I can find twenty-somethings to sixty-somethings very attractive.  It depends on the individual.  Your age, how much hair you may or may not have on your body, what kind of a "type" you fit into... that doesn't matter to me.  It's a question of whether or not there's something attractive about you.  That's entirely what it is for me.  And, in some case you have to make the person believe that there's something attractive about them. Everybody has this fantasy about being photographed, but very few people are willing to do it.  

JR: The photos in "Extensions" are very... shall we say, "intimate" in nature.  They get really...
AC: Explicit?!  They are explicit photos.  They're not these demure nude photos.  Part of it is this: It's not like those parts of the body don't exist (Laughs).  They exist!  They are part of us.  We may like to pretend they don't, but trust me: If they are giving us trouble, we are very aware of them; and if we're having a good time, we're very aware of them.  So, why not incorporate them? They're just as much a part of the body as the eye, the ear, the hair, the muscles on the arms... They're all there, so you may as well include it.  There's a certain fetishistic aspect to it, but if you can divorce yourself from that, you can see that there is a lot of aesthetic value to it: texture, light and shadow, etc.  It just happens to be whatever you're focusing on at that time.  And  in some cases I did it because I know the individuals and they don't have a problem with it. They're OK with it, or even like it.  So, I do it!  It depends on the person.  You can make art out of porn, but you can also turn art into porn too.  It's a very, very, very fine line.  I've looked at a lot of shots that are considered pornographic, and I see the art in them.  They're not pornography to me.  And then I see some shots that are supposed to be art and think, "Come on!  This is just porn with some irony added to it, so therefore it's 'art'."  My photos are not ironic.  I try not to include irony in anything I do.  I dislike irony.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say!

JR: To me, the book is simply a celebration of male anatomy.
AC: Absolutely!  Why not celebrate it?  Men celebrate it with themselves all the time.  They celebrate in private.  Why not celebrate it out loud?  It's just skin and nerve endings, that's all it is!.
JR: And hair!
AC: And hair.  Yes, exactly!  And muscles!

JR: So, what's your next project?
AC: I'm not sure, actually.  I have a couple that I'm kind of juggling in the air right now.  I was thinking of designing a tarot deck, because I collect tarot cards.  I also have a series of photographs, 14 in all, of The Seven Deadly Sins and The Seven Heavenly Virtues.  They're almost finished; they're almost ready to put out or do do something with.  I don't know whether they'll be a book or not.  We'll see!  The gears are turning in the head about the tarot deck.  It's so hard to wrangle 14 guys for a book, that I can't imagine wrangling 22 men for a series of tarot cards!

JR: Recruiting models?  That sounds more like fun than work! (Laughs) So, is they're anything else you'd like to tell everyone?
AC: Yes.  Buy my book!  And, tell me you love me!

    Tell Angel you love him by buying "Extensions"!  The book is also available in a large format, which makes it the perfect coffee table book. Hint: The book also makes a perfect Valentine's Day gift for aficionados of male erotic art.  See a sneak preview of "Extensions" and more at:

www.blurb.com/books/932301
www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/932301#author-bookshelf



2 comments:

  1. As one of the "older" models, I have to submit that Angel is a delight to work with and I think that shows in the images he gets from non-professional models.

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