For me, the highlight of last Sunday's EMMY Awards was seeing author Margaret Atwood walk up the stage. Margaret deserved the well earned applause she received. Atwood is one of my favorite authors, even if Cat's Eye was forced upon me by my grade 11 English teacher. It was great to see the writer of Handmaid's Tale get the recognition she deserves.
Another of Atwood's novels, 1985's Alias Grace premieres on both CBC and Netflix on Monday. I have not read Alias Grace, but the story of the notorious 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in Upper Canada looks promising. It doesn't hurt one of the stars is actor Edward Holcroft, an actor I first noticed in the mini-series London Spy, and his role in Kingsman, The Secret Service.
Holcroft and Taron Egerton looking hot and wet in Kingsman The Secret Service
The first time I saw Justin O'Keith's, those many angles and positions had me excited to be able to feature his work. The first images that I saw were visually edgy, incredibly sexy and uniquely creative. There is an energy in Justin's work that is bold and fresh and perfectly represents the 'unapologetically provocative' theme, which has become the motto for his company, Justin O'Keith Creative.
We were not able to use the model in those first images of Justin's that I saw, but that ended up a fortunate misfortune. When Justin sent on his work with bodybuilder Blake Owens, I knew we had the perfect example to showcase Justin's creative vision. I don't tend to feature many bodybuilder, and not because I don't appreciate their look and the lines and curves on a muscled physique. I appreciate and respect the dedication and commitment to their bodies and profession, I just don't always feel photographers know how to shoot the artistically. The focus tends to be directed on muscle only, often missing the creative blending of physical strength with the unique qualities and personality of the model being captured.
As is immediately evident, this was not the case in Justin's work with Blake. It was important to both photographer and model that viewers see more than just a physically strong and sexy beast, but also the beauty and vulnerabilities of the man beyond those muscles. Through his images, Justin looks to provoke and amaze, and for Blake, the goal is encourage and inspire. Blake encourages everyone to be open and honest with their goals, and he strives to practice what he preaches. For Blake, this transparency magnetizes others toward you who respect those qualities. It also allows others to see the 3-dimensional person, and you became who are. Once known only singularly as the 'big guy with the mean face who lifts', through sharing his story, Blake has seen doors open, and relationships formed that otherwise would not have been possible.
During his senior year of high school, Blake was forced to sit the football season after injuring his shoulder, and having a subsequent surgery during his junior year. Blake had been an All-State player and his goal was to obtain an appointment at the United States Military Academy at West point. In order to ensure he didn't get medically disqualified, he couldn't risk playing the game that he loved and had played all of his life, during his pinnacle year of Texas HS football. It was during this time, still needing something physical to focus on, that bodybuilding entered Blake's life.
'I went to train at a new gym after school everyday just to get my mind off the season that fall of my senior year .It gave me something to compete against. Growing up, as kind of a thicker skinned country boy, it also gave me the opportunity to look better than I had ever looked. I feel I needed at the time as without football, I was feeling incredibly unaccomplished. Even after I received my appointment to the Academy, I was deeply in love with the sport and couldn't imagine not being able to eat all my meals and train daily and continue to grow and develop. Just 20 weeks in, I was seeing myself change.'
Blake went on to attend West Point and played football for a over a year as a deep snapper and fullback. In addition, Blake collegiality participated in the USAPL Nationals for Army's Power Lifting team the following spring. On the surface, everything seemed to be coming together for Blake, especially sports wise. When not on the field, or in the gym, things were not as easy, academic stress and struggles were starting to build.
'To this day, I haven't said much about it, but this is a new me and I am a man who bears transparency to establish trust with others. I ended up leaving West Point after plagiarizing a paper and getting an Honor Board pending against me that, in the wake of all the circumstances of my academic struggles at the academy, was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back. Fearful of what my punishment would be and if I would even be able to handle the stresses of it, I left. I signed my resignation papers, received an honorable discharge, and arguably left behind one of the biggest opportunities at that point in my life.'
Gutted, Blake returned home to Texas and began working at a sports nutrition store. Although he continued to compete in body building competitions, was plagued with injuries and stomach issues due to his dieting and a high liver enzyme count. It is during these bad life circumstance, that we all find ourselves in from time to time, that Blake believes often tests our dedication to our passions. Although Blake recounts having picked himself up many times in the past, never before with the tangible and practical goals he was now seeing before him. For the first time he was seeing the future, and the financial opportunities before him, that he had never been able to see clearly before.
'I think at times living amongst very conservative North Texans can take a toll on your confidence if you let it because every old guy has his opinion over why you're whatever bigoted term they decide to label you as. I changed my attitude and relentlessly pursued achievement in the scope of my passion. As Marcus Aurelius states in his memoirs "he who lives in harmony with himself, lives in harmony with the universe." I truly believe ANYONE can be ANYTHING they want if they put their mind to it, and that is the message I want to spread, practice, and preach. My goal is to say "hey, just because I'm that big guy with the serious look doesn't mean I can't crack a joke, make you feel good about yourself, be compassionate, etc." I love the fact that as a trainer, likewise as a competitor, I get to invest my time in others just like I invest in myself and therefore epitomize the idea of "do as I say BECAUSE OF what I do".'
Blake truly believes in the principles of iron sharpening iron. The phrase, 'As iron sharpens iron', comes from Proverbs 27:17 and illustrates the mutual benefit in bringing two iron blades together and how strength and talent can sharpen one another. This is certainly the case in combining Blake's strength and passion with the talent and creativity of artist Justin O'Keith. Blake's sponsor, Optimum Fitness, first brought the two iron men together and Blake says they quickly became a great team.
'I jumped on the opportunity with an open mind and just let Justin be his professional self and do what he thought worked best theme wise and pose wise. He honestly made it really easy for me to just be me and flex (haha!). Justin goes through thrift stores and finds the coolest things that we can create a theme for a shoot with; as intricate as homemade masks/thongs/straps/etc or as simple as eye black making ALL THE DIFFERENCE in our football shoot. Justin is THE most creative professional I have ever worked with and now that he is my manager as well we have great rapport and the content is only getting, how should I say, edgier? In the best of ways.'
Justin's passion for photography began while in high school. He always enjoyed taking pictures and served as yearbook editor in both high school and in college. It was during his first semester of law school, that Justin began to feel that something was missing. He needed a creative outlet, and a trip to Best Buy resulted in the purchase of his first professional camera. 'I just went crazy and took it to Europe also during my study abroad and captured some epic shots.' Justin's images have the feel of an artist who has been practicing his craft for decades, but his decision to pursue capturing the male form only began last summer.
'I was a natural light photographer for 10 years so I wanted to try the studio setting. I fell in love with it. You are always told to do what you know. There are so many male photographers who shoot women only. When they do shoot men it is generic and flat. I like to bring life to my male models. They are overlooked and not given the same detail as female models. Also I have an easy time connecting with them so they can let their personalities come out. I am a former high school and college athlete. I also use to be an Olympic lifter and am slowly getting back into that. When you have someone shooting you who knows what it is like to train and can share similar experiences you can bring out so much in them. Also for me it is so much easier working with male models. I lay out the terms and we get to working.'
The provocative edge stems from Justin's best friend. Her initial response to his work was that it was good... but could be better. Initially bothered as he struggled to how to improve, Justin went work trying new and edgier themes and look. It worked, people began talking about his work, and the 'provocative' was the word usually used.
'At first I was offended, then I embraced it. Uapologetically Provocative became the motto for my company. I do not care what people think of my work. Art is supposed to make you think and cause a reaction. If not then it has not done its job. I want to shock and amaze people. Make them seem the world from a different point of view than they are used to. Make them question things and this image they are viewing. My art always me to fully be in control. It allows me to create without limits. It allows me to be myself and to be free. I put so much of my heart, soul and spirit into my work. I think you can feel the emotion when you see my images.'
'I was referred to Blake by his bodybuilding sponsor and coach. I have a partnership with him to shoot his clients for modeling portfolios and also fitness shots for them. Blake had modeled in the past and was ready to make it happen. I send all of my clients a questionnaire that outlines what options they have for the shoot. Basically they set the terms for their shoot and I accommodate it. That way they are comfortable and we know what we are doing. Blake was not really into anything edgy. He wanted to stay vanilla and I respected that. Once he got to know me and we started to chat he opened up a bit. He thinks of this as a business and he is able to separate the personal from the professional. This makes it easy for him to execute shoots. The mask he found to be too much at first then he was like I can do that. So we killed that look. The guy that has gone from 0 to 100 within a week lol. We have worked together about 4 or 5 times now each time coming up with more racy and fun ideas. He is young and a go-getter. whatever he wants to do he makes happen.'
'Hans has shot some of the worlds most successful male fitness models, and many of the images captures have become iconic depictions of the male form. I believe many of the images within The Naked Truth are destined to join them. An extensive collection of work, as you turn each page, a new theme and visual experience is unveiled. Hans beautifully pairs each page with models, pose, energy, color and motif creating dynamic visuals and interplay between the images on the page.'
The quote above is part of the forward that I was privileged to contribute for artist Hans Fahrmeyer's new book, The Naked Truth. Living in a small country town, the Internet opened up a world of art and imagery Hans images were some of the first images that I noticed, enjoyed and collected after I first got on-line. Hans is one of my favorite chroniclers of the male form, and has been one of FH's longest, and most generous contributors. Since first featuring Hans' work back in 2009, Sunday's With Hans quickly became a FH staple, and has reached over 80 unique stories featuring dozens of models in hundreds of sensually charged images.
Hans Fahrmeyer's images are bold, colorful and unabashedly sensual. The intent is to evoke desire, and the intention is clear in the eyes of each model, and on each and every page.. This energy is palatable and through his use of vibrant colors, uniquely body poses and positions, as well a his creative editing, Hans channels this energy into images drenched in both intensity and urgency.
The Naked Truth is more than just a photo book, the 150 plus pages inside are a virtual visual history and encyclopedia of Hans years of shooting the male form. Hans not only displays a wide variety of themes and styles in the book, he wove them together, specifically choosing which images should be side by side. Hans' goal, to weave the artistic with the erotic, is there visually with each turn of the page. All of of the models you know and love when you think of Hans work are are included, as well as many new models and images never seen before.
As you can see from the preview video below, Hans holds nothing back, beautifully exposing The Naked Truth.
Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood has one of the longest, and most eclectic, resumes of any actor I know of. Greewood began his acting career with guest roles on Canadian TV shows in the late 70's. Since then, the Quebec born actor has appeared as a regular, or a guest star, on some of TV's most popular shows.
Unlike most actors, who generally focus on either television or film, Greenwood easily weaves in and out of roles on both genres, going back and forth between major motion pictures, and parts on Lifetime TV movies without missing a beat.
Bruce headed south to California in the early 80's and quickly got noticed by NBC. After the short lived series Legmen, Bruce joined the drama St. Elsewhere in 1986, taking on the 'hunk' role after Mark Harmon left the show. I wish St. Elsewhere would come out on DVD as I have only watched a handful of episodes, and would love to see the entire series.
I loved Bruce's long floppy hair, even when it verged close to the 'Billy Ray' and the talented actor had a way of stepping into roles so seamlessly and skillfully, sometimes you're not aware it was him until seeing the credits.
St. Elsewhere (1986)
After St. Elsewhere, some of Greenwood's most notable appearances included roles on Mad Men, Exotica, Hardball, Nowhere Man, The Larry Sanders Show, Thirteen Days, Eight Below, John from Cincinnati, Star Trek and in last seasons American Crime Story and the TV re-make of Dirty Dancing. I think I first discovered Bruce on during his brief stint as Pierce Lawton on Knots Landing in the early 90's.
Knots Landing (1991)
After seeing the recent trailer for the upcoming Netflix version of Stephen King's novel Gerald's Game. I loved the book, and if you check out the 'skin' section below, you'll see that at 61, Greenwood looks as hot as ever, and decided it was time to feature Bruce in my series, Actors & Skin!
With all of the varied projects actor Bruce Greenwood has been a part of, I was a bit surprised to see he has only three official nude scenes on his resume. His first, when Greenwood was 27, was the pilot episode of The Hitchhiker back in 1983. The second, when he was 33, was the incredibly erotic 1989 film Wild Orchid. At 51, Greenwood dropped trou for the third time in the Bob Dylan biopic, I'm Not There.
Greenwood, looking mighty fine 61, is again showing a little skin in Gerald's Game premiering later this month on Netflix. I loved the Stephen King novel, and am curious how they pull it together, especially given the main character is handcuffed to a bed for most of the story. Not sure how much of Greenwood will be on display, but h looks hot in his black boxer briefs, and handcuffs, that he sports in the trailer.
The Hitchhiker: 1983
If you look closely through the bars of the cage in the image below, there is a hint of a second bird int he bottom right hand corner. Greenwood's first nude scene was in the pilot episode for The Hitchhiker back in 1983. In the episode, Shattered Vows, the director very cleverly filmed Bruce undressing through the bars of the bird cage. I am not sure I would have noticed the nudity if I had watched the episode on TV. I needed it pointed out in the clip to notice. I uploaded the scene on Sendspace (HERE:)if you want to check it out for yourself.
I'm Not There (2007)
Bruce plays two characters in the 2007 biographical drama I'm Not There, inspired by the life of singer and songwriter Bob Dylan. In this scene, one of them decides to remove all of their clothing in a public bathroom.
Wild Orchid (1989)
When I first saw Wild Orchid, I have to admit, my focus was on the incredibly hot nude scene featuring the gorgeous Jens Peter. I updated my old post, with better quality caps of Jens (HERE:) if anyone wants to check it out. I was on a teenager when I saw the flick, and can't believe I didn't pay closer attention to Bruce, and his quick frontal flash in this scene. Thanks to SOMS, I have the scene uploaded on Sendspace HERE: if anyone wants another look.