Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Walk in the Park: Clayton by Richard Rothstein


'This shoot is about PRIDE and defiance. Clay mentioned to me that he found walking nude in the city to be an incredibly liberating and energizing experience. It’s a very powerful statement.'


Most of us were taught as kids that defiance is a bad things. We were taught to listen and to follow instructions from the adults around us. Some of us sadly learned these lessons too well...  It's a devastating lesson to learn that far too many adults, from Priests to parents, made requests of children that should have been met with defiance.


With the current political climate, and the cruel and idiotic policies being pushed forward, it is the defiant whom I find myself most respecting and most drawn to. With some of the horrors of the past few years, the defiance of the Parkland Students, the teenagers and adults who say 'no more', are the ones that bring me a sliver of light and a ray of hope..


Being proudly defiant is not easy, and no walk in the park. It can be extremely risky and takes a strong sense of self, and an ability to handle blow back.  It also requires an innate sense that what you're doing, even if not necessarily right, is both just and needed


We are at place and time when men and women over 30 are considered defiant simply by being who they are. Simply by expressing every aspect of their beings, both spiritually and sexually. This can especially true for gay men, who are routinely and virtually  erased out of existence. It is rare to see a positive portrayal of a gay man over 40 who isn't written as the comic relief or the single flaming sidekick to the romantic female.


'Gay men, regardless of age or profession, standing out and proud on the streets of New York City. Expressing their freedom through the beauty and courage of male nudity in unexpected places. Clay mentioned to me that he found walking nude in the city to be an incredibly liberating and energizing experience. It’s a very powerful statement.'


' Male nudity is unfairly controversial, stemming, mostly, I think from a heterosexual perspective. I’d like to think that as queer artists we can make our own statement celebrating the beauty, courage, pride and freedom of public nudity, breaking free of “heteronormative” standards.'


As you can clearly see, Clay is no body's sidekick, his body is strong and hard, and playing the lead in any story. Richard's shots capture his both his pride and his strength and in the image above, Clay reminds me of Arnold Schwarzenegger landing on earth in the classic scene at the beginning of Terminator.


Richard's shots of Clay beautifully capture that exhilarating feeling of being naked in places, on streets and in areas, that for most of the day and evening are filled with hundreds of New Yorkers. For a short time however, each night and in the moments before the sun comes up, they provide a brief, but brilliant back drop for a moment of defiance.




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