Entertainment » Books


by Steve Weinstein
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jun 4, 2012

The world of male erotic photography is crowded with wannabes who use the camera lens as a way to get near -- as near as they can -- to hot guys. Mark Henderson stands out by the quality of his work.

Funny, isn't it: If these were photos of, say, shiny cars or flowers in a vase, his photos would be given the gallery treatment in Manhattan's Chelsea art market. Instead, he's doing books for Bruno Gmünder, the indispensable German publisher that has made a specialty of gay male erotic art.

Lucky for us! In his latest book, "Luminosity," Henderson has once again somehow managed to land the absolute most beautiful men on the planet. These guys have the most amazingly sculpted bodies -- and movie-star looks.

"Luminosity" is nearly a mirror image -- or, to use Artspeak, a comment on -- last year's "Poolside." In my review that ran here last August, I remarked that the lush photos in that tome reminded me strongly of Monet's "Water Lillies" series, done in his later years at his country home in Giverny, France.

In those photos, the men stood out in contrast to the lush colors of the lavish landscape and its reflection in the water. In "Luminosity," the men are placed against mostly interior backgrounds that are nearly all stark in various shades of white.

Whereas in "Poolside," the water in Henderson's pool, where the series was shot, provided the texture, here it's light, most of it streaming in through the window but supplemented, here and there, by photo lamps or other interior lighting.

The result is that the men themselves become very much the focus of the photographs. Since they are uniformly such examples of the kind of perfection human beings can achieve when genes, luck, diet, exercise and who-knows-what-else come together. Myself, I don't care how they got there, only that they were willing to pose for Henderson's masterful lens.

The guys are of a type. They are generally beefy, with luxurious (if well-cropped) hair. Most are smooth, although there are a few with well-manscaped, strategically placed body hair.

There are a few men of color, although most are Caucasian. Two of the men have long hair: One of them is one of the very guys with body hair and a face (and body) to die for. The other is by far the thinnest guy in the book.

This photo is cropped, but there is a lot of frontal nudity at various stages of arousal. Oh, and if you have that idiotic notion that men who work out and sculpt their bodies are "compensating," your bitter theory will be disappointed here.

The men are beautiful. Not just handsome, beautiful. Their looks are luscious, their eyes limpid pools. Their skin is uniformly clear of blemishes. If you’re looking for "real guys," look elsewhere. Myself, I see real guys every day. When I look at a work of art, I want to look at a work of art. I very much if doubt Michelangelo’s David looked like many of the guys walking around Renaissance Florence.

Henderson uses color discreetly. When he does, one primary color becomes the theme. There is a great two-page spread of no color except a basket of oranges; another two-page spread shows only a green decanter.

Henderson sometimes emphasizes the few color notes by digitally enhancing them. This sometimes includes the underwear strategically placed as though the model is taking it off.

Some of the shots are set-ups. There are a few of Clark Kents getting out of their suits and turning into Supermen before our eyes. There are a lot of guys pensive in bed. The use of mirrors, such as the bodybuilder’s back reflecting his backless underwear (pulled down in front), gives us the model front and back.

112 pages full color
hardcover with dust jacket
Available on Amazon, at bookstores, or from the publisher

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).


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