The sea and hot men have long been a favorite topic for gay erotic art photographers, David Morgan and Tom Bianci, two of the best-known practitioners, shot on Fire Island.
Fashion photographer Max-Arthur Mantle lives in Miami. Having been a regular visitor to Miami Beach’s South Beach neighborhood for several years, I can attest to the fact that this city has some of the most gorgeous men in the world, and that South Beach itself must have the highest ratio of hot bodies to the general population of just about any city in the world.
The aptly named "Beachboys" has some very muscular guys. But by and large, Mantle has chosen for his models sleek, tightly muscled, tight-bodied, smooth, elegantly handsome young men. If you look forward to the latest Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue the way straight men used to scan the mailbox for Playboy, this is the book for you.
Like A&F’s fabled photographer Bruce Weber, Mantle gets these guys in states of undress. Toweling off, sitting naked in the sand, running through the surf or sunning themselves, the casual situations and poses give the photos an unstudied informality.
As someone who believes that even the most color-corrected prints can’t reproduce the original colors in nature, I love black and white photography. Especially for books like this, the black-and-white photos have a clarity and focus that smooths out too much in the color palette.
There is nothing unstudied about these guys’ physiques, however. Even if they aren’t bodybuilders, you can tell they do their time at the gym. I remember going to a South Beach gym and listening to a drawn-out argument between a member and a worker about the fat content of various protein bars. You could tell this guy (who was straight, most likely a model) essayed every gram of food he put into his body with the gravity of a molecular biologist.
Well, bless them. They have the discipline. Thank heavens we have photographers like Mantle who are intrepid enough to ask them to pose for his camera so that we can preserve their moments of sheer utter physical perfection.
This is a book that I am enjoying now that it’s summer, but that I know I’ll love even more when I can look through it in winter. As the snow comes down outside my window, I’ll let these beach boys take me into land of Endless Summer, where everything is palm trees, smooth sand and smoother flesh.
Hardcover with dust jacket
Published by Bruno Gmünder