"If one were to write the ultimate cliched Australian coming out story, it would be about a boy born in a hick town who has the lithe body of a ballet dancer. Engaged to be married, he instead becomes a flight steward. The scales of heterosexuality drop from his eyes and he moves to Sydney to reinvent himself via the Yellow Brick Road of pumping at the City Gym, over-tanning at Tamarama, pulling beers at the Albury, and joining that bare- chested Roman garrison who shoulder their way across dance party floors. There is only one thing for him left to do: preserve the dream forever by becoming an American (which means the world) video sex icon."
Following on from the previous text we might be able to say that we have only ourselves to blame if the media reinforce images of traditional 'virile' masculinity in a consumer society. It is we who have created these erotic male fantasy images, images that express our desires, not the media. But it is also true that capitalism and consumerism rely on the sale of product and constantly enlarge and amplify product appeal by advertising, thrusting these fantasy images into our faces until they become an overpowering omnipotent archetype. The male body in the contemporary gay porn industry is a prime example of such an archetype, the (re)enforcement of masculine power in the desirable image of the muscular mesomorphic body. How did this (re)enforcement of masculine power in the body image of gay porn stars come about?
During my research at The One Institute in Los Angeles I investigated the type of body images that appeared in the transitional phase from physique magazines of the mid-late 1960s into the early gay pornography magazines of 1969-1970 in America which occurred after the Supreme Court ruling on obscenity. I wanted to find whether there had been a crossover, a continuation of the muscular mesomorphic body image that was a favourite of the physique photographers into the early pornography magazines. From the evidence of the images in the magazines I would have to say that there was a limited crossover of the bigger muscular bodies but most bodies that appeared in the early gay porn mags were of the youthful, smooth, muscular ephebe-type body image.
As can be seen from the images (above) most of the men featured in the early gay pornography magazines and films have bodies that appear to be quite 'natural' in their form. Models are mostly young, smooth, quite solid with toned physiques, not as 'built' as in the earlier physique magazines but still well put together. Examining the magazines at the One Institute I found that the bodies of older muscular/hairy men were not well represented. Perhaps this was due to the unavailability of the bigger and older bodybuilders to participate in such activity? In the male bodies of the c. late-1970s Super 8 mm pornography films (above) we can observe the desirable image of the smooth youthful ephebe being presented for our erotic pleasure.
We can also observe in the bodies of Mark Hammer, Mike Powers and Bob Noll the presence of a bigger more muscular body. These bodies are an early indication of the later development that was to take place in the body images of men in gay pornography - a shift to older more 'masculine' bodies, probably as a reaction to the stereotype of the effeminate limp-wristed pansy & also the fear of being seen as a pederast, that is a person who has sex with underage boys. Some of the ephebes in the Super 8 mm films (above) look very young indeed. In the late 1970s another revolution started to take place; towards the end of the decade porn films became more widely available on videocassette. This made porn much more accessible to the gay consumer and allowed the expansion of the gay pornography industry. Instead of having to buy Super 8 movies and use home projectors that took an age to set up gay men could now have their 'hit' of pornography in a quick, convenient package.