There are, however, one group of photographs that have appeared in some porn mags that do not represent the ideal of the perfect muscular mesomorph or the smooth, young ephebe. These are photographs that accompany the messages of ordinary gay men wanting to meet other men for sex and companionship. These are the images of themselves they want to show to the general public. How they perceive themselves. How they are posed reveals small contexts of identity, even though their actual identity is hidden because of the masking of the face (No. 3 is ingenious in this regard; it uses the flash of the camera in the mirror to obliterate the facial features). The backgrounds and attire (when present) can tell you a lot about the person.
Numbers 1 and 3 remind me of the photographs of Diane Arbus, shot in the subject's bedroom. In the background of No.3 we can see an ironing board, a wooden bed head and the bed itself. In the foreground we can see a full cup of tea or coffee sitting on the dressing table to which the mirror is attached.
No.'s 2, 4, and 5 feature men who are obviously into leather, cock rings, boots and whips; a man stares over the shoulder of the figure in No. 2 adding to the menacing air - I'm watching you! Note in all the images the bodies are of an everyday, 'natural' type. Types that we can see down the beach or at the sauna that are not toned and tanned but older, plumper, taller or skinnier, and for this reason they have an attractiveness which is solely their own. These bodies have been lived in, they have earnt every wrinkle and crease, have survived their life experiences and are still sexually valuable in their own individuality and difference. These bodies are not fantasy material in the 'normal' understanding of what a contemporary male fantasy body should look like. This is because in the buyers and sellers market of contemporary gay society big, buff, and beautiful is the perfect dish of the last two decades and will continue to be so as long as gay men continue to desire this 'ideal'.
With the rise of the Internet Chat rooms as a technology and 'space' for gay men to interact and 'meet' online gay men have continued to desire the 'ideal', images of bodies mostly conforming to the ideal of the smooth muscular mesomorph. The owner of the body shown above still uses similar disguising techniques that the earlier 1980s photographs do, the now digitally erased face protecting his anonymity. But there are other, more interesting images; there are 'natural' images of gay men relaxing at home, with friends and lovers or with family. These images are now more readily available to gay men due to the randomness of viewing a gay man's profile online - you never know what photographs are going to come up once you have clicked on the link to their profile - a randomness much like life itself. Even though these images can be quickly dismissed by the click of a button if you don't find that person attractive the fact is that, in those few seconds, in some way, these images do enter a gay man's consciousness - perhaps subconsciously promoting the idea that there are other body types that a gay man can give pleasure to, can desire. For more information on future representations of the gay male body please see the Future Press chapter.