Sometimes suppression, leads to a more explosive expression...
'As he grew, it became evident he was a pretty boy. Not a handsome boy. There ’s a difference between handsome and someone whose features are those normally considered elegant. Though very fair skinned and blond, his lashes and brows were coal black, appearing as if someone had taken makeup to them. It offset eyes the color of aquamarines. His cheeks were high; full and proportionate , the planes of his face sleek, almost feline. His lips were voluptuous, the top as broad as the bottom and symmetrical; the color of Cabernet. It would grow to be a face one was drawn to stare at, or look away from. Depending on your gender in those days.'
The pretty boy is Matthew, on the brink of a sexual awakening, hampered at every turn by his radically Evangelical family. The Church was law. Since he could remember, the message was clear, two men together was a sin, an abomination. Despite those messages, natural urges could not be denied and it was in that church that Matthew first spotted Caleb. 'That world outside was not where they belonged. It was unnatural to them. Matt could be a victim of it no longer.'
'Perspiration wound its way down the bend of his back, prickled the fine blond hair. The same wetness was between the cheeks of his ass. A hand found its way there, toyed with the tender spot. It was driving his mind into another dimension. “Oh God!'
In writer and photographer Dan Skinner's latest novel, religious restrictions make being together almost impossible. A week long gathering however, at Caleb's family farm provides an opening. They had only one chance to be together...and it would be a daring one, right under the noses of the very people who would condemn them. Dan Skinner doesn't just write words, he creates visual scenes that, like his photographs, draw you into the story and hold you there, page after page. Read, and see, The Bible Boys for yourself on Amazon HERE:
Summer is not just about sun, vacations and fun, it is also a season of senses. The Sounds of children playing, crickets at at night, and my favorite of the summer sounds, the ocean hitting the shore. The sight of shirtless guys walking down the street, the purples, pinks and reds of garden flowers people, out of their living rooms, away from their television sets and out on their patio's, decks and front porches.
Then of course come the smells; fresh cut crash, your neighbours BBQ, the sand and ocean. Although not necessarily my favorite, the smell of chlorine is one that cuts deep in my memory and sexual awakening as a kid. Although I grew up around lakes, and fairly close to the ocean, one of my favorite places to take a dip were public swimming pools, one special one in particular. A few miles from my house, about 15 minutes on my bike, was a Yacht Club. Although I did not belong, my friend Jeffrey did, and I spent much my summers through my Jr. High years at the club.
During the day, the swimming pool was open to the public for swims. It was full of children and their parents, some days, when it was really hot, you could not even see water through the haze of heads and bodies. When you swam there during the day, as part of the public swims, there was an old wooden building with changing rooms, specifically for non-club members to use. It was small, not fancy and not a place to hang out in. When you entered, girls went to the right, boys to the left.
There was a small room, not much bigger than a long hallway. At the front, a large shower stall and bathroom. Down the hall, just one long bench with hooks on lockers on either side. At the other end, the doorway to the pool. The goal was to get in, get out and get into the pool. The same went for when you were done. They didn't want people hanging or lurking and you often heard a voice from the front saying, 'hurry up boys' and 'keep moving'.
Trips to public swimming pools can be illuminating for a confused teenager questioning who they are. Guys in bathing suits sure, but also permitted touch, with rough housing, water piggy back, and dunking. There was also bound to be a moment someone pulled a friends speedo up into a wedgie. It was also wise to keep a close eye to the diving board, and people getting in and out of the pool, as hints of butt crack were not uncommon sights to be seen.
There was nothing inappropriate or wrong going on, in fact there was nothing really going on at all. The sights were public, it was way in the way in which those sight, sounds and smells were processed that differed between the people in the pool. The thoughts which ran through my brain during those days at the pool were private, and although I learned to anticipate them, they were not ones I planned, nor could really control.
They were exciting, they were erotic, and most of all, they were completely innocent. They were the same feeling everyone was having, boys about girls, girls about boys, girls about girls and boys about boys. A part of what we all went through as we awakened sexually, matured and grew up. Even today, the smell of chlorine takes me right back to those private thoughts at those public pools.
During the evening, going to the same pool became an entirely different, and maybe a little less innocent an experience. The public was not welcome, it was members only, and thankfully for me Jeffrey love to take a group of us each evening for a swim. When you went at night, that tiny wooden changing room building was locked tight. The attendant not on duty and no life guards to be seen. Instead, you changed in the member area, a large, plush locker room with individual showers, clean bathrooms, long mirrors and armchairs and plants in the corner. This was a place you lingered.
Usually when we arrived, there would be a few swimmer doing laps or a few people, taking a quick dive after a long work day. Most night though, as the evening went on, it was just our group left in the pool. Although you could see houses across the bay, there wasn't really much around so unless there was a function at the club, dusk meant it was just us in the pool. This is when it got really fun.
The fun was still most innocent, boys playing around, but without a life guard, or they eyes of a strict parent on us constantly, back flips were done off the diving board, wresting matches were held and running along the side of the pool became mandatory. Many nights, except the odd night our friend Valerie would accompany us, the suits would often get pulled down and thrown to the sides of the pool.
Without the suits, our bodies morphed from human to water mammal, diving up and back down into the water as if we were dolphins or whales. Any touch was not sexual, at least not on the surface, it was just fun mixed with a little danger and risk. It was exhilarating.
The member locker room was no longer just a place to change and hurry through, it became as important a part of the experience as being in the pool. We often spent an hour or two in the water, then another hour in the changing rooms. Laughing, rough housing, then changing and showering. My first time there, my eyes quickly looked elsewhere when someone was naked. I even left the room for the bathroom the first time. With each visit however, my comfort with being around my friends naked, and being naked myself became comfortable and although I could never really control my thoughts, I was able to mask them in order not to stand out.
It is funny, out of the 7 or 8 guys who came in and out of these evening swims, 2 others came out over the next fifteen years, me being the last of the trio. One moved away and although I have seen him on social media sites, never bothered to reconnect. The other I am still friends with and visit with when he is town during special occasions and holidays. We have had a few conversations about our group, but I have never brought up those evening swims, or times in the locker rooms. I will make a note to do so the next time we meet up.
I flashed back to these memories when first seeing some of these images from Dan Skinnera few years ago, and have even sprinkled a few in previous posts. I love featuring Dan's work, his vibrant imagery always takes me enjoyable places, either from my past, or to fantasy's of possible future adventures. Thanks to Dan for supplying even more Public pool images to stimulate private thoughts as our Summer start to end and segue's into Autumn.
Ever since I was a kid, Joan Rivers guesting on a talk show was reason to set my VCR to record. Yes, she often goes too far, but that's because she's always going, always working, always trying to make us laugh. Crossing the line is a curse of those at the forefront, and Rivers has been in that position most of her long career. Get well Joan, soon!
Over the past year, above pretty much any other channel on television, I have been watching PBS. PBS was for many, was a regular place to tune into when we were kids. From Sesame Street through Zoom, it was the only place for quality children's television. As we got older, most of us abandoned PBS for the more high brow, intellectual television found on ABC's TGIF.... Many of us though, eventually returned.
I returned to PBS sporadically for special and airings of Broadway shows. But permanent return however, occurred many years ago as it was one of the only places to find British comedies and dramas. Many others returned when word of mouth spread how amazing Downton Abby was. (Thanks again to the person who turned me on to it!). This past year however, I have been captivated by more PBS's programming, especially it's Wednesday one two punch of My Wild Affair and Sex In The Wild. My Wild Affair is a show if you have not yet caught, I fully recommend you give it a try! The piece de resistance of PBS programming however has got to be it's Documentaries, especially American Masters. This past season drew me into the lives of many diverse individuals from Marvin Hamlisch through Alice Walker. One of the most fascinating was the exclusive director’s cut of Shane Salerno’s documentary, Salinger.
'Featuring never-before-seen photographs, personal stories and moments from J.D. Salinger’s (Jan. 1, 1919 – Jan. 27, 2010) life and harrowing service in World War II, Salerno’s new director’s cut expands his intimate portrait of the enigmatic author of The Catcher in the Rye. American Masters was the first to close a deal with Salerno for Salinger, securing the exclusive domestic television rights to the documentary in January 2013. An official selection of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival, the film made front page news all over the world with its revelations. Associated Press called the research yielded during Salerno’s 10-year investigation “unprecedented” and “thoroughly documented.” PBS Salinger Press Release
I like many, read Catcher In The Rye in High School (and am making my way through it again presently). I knew bits and pieces about J.D Salinger, especially the novels connection in three high profile shootings, including two celebrity deaths. The book was connected to the murderers of both John Lennon and actress Rebecca Schaeffer, as well as the shooting of President Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, those acts of violence have defined both author and book. The documentary however, looks at so much more and I was riveted from start to finish.
It was fascinating to see Salinger's struggle with fame, and his attempts to avoid it all. His refusal to sell the movie to rights to Catcher is something I am sure many writers today struggle to understand. Money was not the endgame, although he made quite a bit of it. Salinger loved old movies and young women, and although he didn't seem to want to be in the lime light, seemed to feed off the attention and adoration of young, good looking women. What also really intrigued me about the documentary, was the nexus between some of the stories I have done on FH, stories I wrote, not realizing there was a connection to the famous an allusive author. Here are three...
Trying to find make a decent cap of actor Ted McGinely, for my 2012 Blast From The Past post, I had no idea, one of the actors whose butt I was so trying make sure was clear in the image was Salinger's son Matt. Matt, on the right in the images below, made his film debut in 1984' Revenge Of The Nerds, and has been active in the entertainment business since. Matt's mother was psychologist Claire Douglas who was married to Salinger from 1955 through 1967. Matt is one of just a few in Salinger's live who has not attempted to profit off his fathers fame or legacy. In fact, in 1999 after his sister Margaret wrote Dream Catcher, a memoir of her childhood, Matt wrote a letter to The New York Observer, disparaging his sister's 'gothic tales of our supposed childhood.'
This past January, I wrote about my love of the novel Labor Day, and its writer Joyce Maynard. The book really drew me in hard, especially the beautifully drawn three central characters. Sadly, but movie didn't to the same, but the book, I devoured. When writing that piece, I was clueless to Maynard's history with J.D Salinger. Their relationship is detailed in the documentary, but yet there are still mysteries surrounding her motives in writing about the relationship. In some ways I understand it, but at the same time, given Salinger's fierce fight to protect his privacy, it is also a betrayal.
Joyce Maynard is quoted as saying that the only person who could have played Holden in a movie version of Catcher In The Rye was Salinger himself. I think there is another actor, who may have fit the role very well, at least when he was a bit younger, and that is Maynard's own son. In 2010 I wrote a piece about actor Wilson Bethel. I didn't know anything about his family when I wrote the piece, only that the actor who was making a splash at the time on the daytime soap The Young And The Restless. The soap didn't realize what star in the making they had and wrote him out quickly. Wilson landed on Heart Of Dixie, but I think his best work is still to come. Wilson has star power written all over him and I am sure is going to light the big screen on fire with the right role.
'All art is sensual and poetry particularly so. It doesn't declaim or explain, it presents.'
William Carlos Williams
Most people who read FH, know how important story is to me. When I first saw the work of artist Ra Kai, I knew there had to be an interesting story to accompany the beauty within the imagery. There was a story, a fascinating one which added texture and meaning to his art. Stories however are not always ready to be told. Some must wait for the right time or the right listener. Some stories remain inside our heads, only shared through our work, our images, our passions.
'I want to capture the allure and beauty of male body, as separate body parts, or as a whole.' The photographs are mainly black and white, usually with very little light that would paint the skin and body contours in the dark background creating intimacy and mystery. I want to create pictures, where men are not just muscles and macho attitude, but also very beautiful and sensual creatures.'
Ra's passion lies in the field of the male nude, especially glamour and fine art photography. His first studio shoot was just over a year ago, his first nude shoot, a month later. Ra's images are both intimate, sensitive and very personal. For Ra, the process of shooting is a way to express himself while drawing closer to his hopes and dreams, the final images being the release.