One of the things the Web does so well is to honor the past. There are so many films, TV shows and actors that touch our lives, but so often many are forgotten. In addition to spreading sarcasm and 'news', Twitter for me has been about getting reminders of people and things I have forgotten about. Last week, someone posted the above shot of actor Ben Murphy.
I have to admit, I don't recall ever really seeing or watching anything Ben was in. One of his most famous roles, in the television series Alias Smith and Jones, aired before I was born. Yet, with the net, I was familiar with Ben and seeing his images on various sites and blogs had me curious to learn more about him. First off, he's staggeringly good looking. Ben's sexy smile, his adorable dimples and that head of curly hair have me stop to pause every time I see one of his images.
Not his greatest look.... but still a fun 70's publicity shot
The first time the world beyond the actors Arkansas birthplace saw his sexy face was in the uncredited role as 'shaving man' in the 1967's The Graduate. (below) Although uncredited, many clearly took notice and Ben soon began regular role in film and on television. After his turn in Alias Smith and Jones in the early 70's, Ben went to to appear in 70's TV shows including Gemini Man and The Chisholm's in through the 80's in The Winds of War, Lottery and the short lived prime time soap Berrengers.
Although I don't think I saw one episode of any of the shows I just mentioned, I do remember noticing Ben in magazines and promotional images from his many projects. Ben's work in the 90's was mostly guest starring turns on shows including Life Goes On, In The Heat of the Night, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Pacific Blue and Silk Stockings
Throughout the 2000's, Ben continued to appear on screen and regularly on television with roles on Judging Amy, NCIS, JAG, The District and The Drew Carey Show. Ben's last official credit was in the 2010 drama, The Genesis Code.
Ben left acting after that for what he describes as a return to being a private citizen. He steps back in the lime light now and then for Hollywood shows, usually for fans of Alias Smith and Jones. Ben isn't sitting on his front porch however, the Southern Californian actor has always played tennis and currently travels on the USTA singles and doubles circuit.
Ben really focused on his tennis game during a 1980 actors strike, spending all of the time he would have been in front of the camera on the tennis court. In 2016, Ben consistently ranked in southern California’s top ten Men’s 70 Singles Seedings as well as the Men’s 70 Doubles Senior Grand Prix for southern California.
One of the most interesting things to me about Ben, especially in his images, is not just how hot he usually look, but also how happy he usually appears. So many actors seem to go for that serious, dramatic, almost constipated look in publicity shots, but with Ben, he is often smiling. Given how magic his smile is, it's a wise choice. I think that smile is what has always drawn me to his images whenever I see them.
A more recent shot of Ben, looking as studly as ever! You can check out more images of Ben on his Official Website run by two of his friends.
Truth be told, Ben Murphy hasn't actually done a nude scene on film. I know doing an Actors & Skin feature on an actor who hasn't bared any onscreen film may seem a bit odd. Ben did however have his fair share of shirtless scenes, and being a TV star in the 70's and 80's led to a few speedo appearances on TV shows including Battle of the Network Stars. Ben actually showed the most skin in images. Although keeping the goods mostly hidden, Ben appeared naked in an incredibly daring (for an actor in 1973)
Alias Smith and Jones
Battle of the Network Stars
Battling and bulging with William Shatner and Shari Belafonte (above) and a posing Heather Thomas below.
Fab Magazine, June 1974
Viva Magazine, November 1973
Viva was an adult woman's magazine that premiered in 1973 and continued through 1980. Its full title was Viva, The International Magazine For Women, and it was published by Bob Guccione and his wife, Kathy Keeton. In his spread, Ben & Bess, Ben appears along with singer Bess Cofield appeared in the magazine at a time both of their stars were on the rise.
Although not much is actually shown, the poses, especially of those depicting oral sex, were incredibly erotic and quite explicit for popular television actor at the time. Now if only photographer Earl Miller had released some of the outtakes.... Thanks to the great blog Welcome to My World for the shots, you can see the entire layout HERE:
Staring far down, resigned, ready, about to give in,
Then it surged, first over his thigh, then his back, then his lips,
The touch, the erotic pressure...then the hope,
Skin on skin on skin on skin,
A carnal resuscitation'
When featuring as series of images, I am always left wondering how best to tell their story. Sometimes, I tell the backgrounds story, how the artist and model or models connected, and share stories and comments about the shooting process. Other times, the story is already told, visually through images and the artist's eye. Then... there are times when the stories ambiguous, the artist provides all the pieces, but it's the viewer and the viewers imagination that puts the pieces in an order that best fits and meets their erotic needs.
As a kid, I remember the layouts in Playboy and Penthouse did this so well. When I young, a copy of Playgirl wasn't always easy, or safe... to get my hands on. My older brother however, always had a stack of magazines ready at hand. It always pissed me off how easy it was for my brother. His magazine stash didn't need to be hidden, nor was their purchase a stressful risk but... they served their purpose.
Most issues had a male and female fantasy pictorial, a series of images, usually focused on a man devouring a woman. Although the focus was on the female body parts, the man was often naked as well, and I there were usually enough shots of him in action to satisfy. I somehow suspect the editors knew they had a diverse audience and had this mind when they were putting together the pieces. There were always stories accompanying these images sets, stories of thrusting and throbbing and intense aching passions.
The words and story may have mattered to the female audience, but my imagination twisted the tale to fit the emotions the images inspired in me. When photographer Richard Rothstein send on this series of images, I was thrust back to those throbbing, passionate pictorials so important to me growing up. I am not sure Richard intended the story the images told in my head, but I'm quite sure, he approves of any inspirational reactions to his work.
Within Richard's series of passion filled images of Sergey and Shawn were a few images of Sergey alone, standing by the patio doors. I was struck by the beauty and the lighting and Sergey's shadowy silhouette on the wall beside him. The shots of Sergey alone were a stark contrast to the images of he and Shawn intertwined together.
My mind flew to Sergey, alone in his apartment, lonely and in pain after the loss of his one true love. Despondent and feeling hopeless, Sergey heads onto the balcony, ready to end his pain, ready to descend, leaving his memories and despair behind.
In my story, Shawn reappears, caressing Sergey's thigh, touching his back, holding his naked body close to his once again. They step back inside and back into the passion Sergey thought was gone forever. As their bodies intertwine, Sergey is reminded of the tastes , the smells, the physical reactions to Shawn's ability to penetrate and impact every fibre of his being.
As intense as the feelings that sweep through Sergey were, they didn't necessarily lead to a happily ever after. The feelings although real, weren't of the present, but of the past. Shawn is no longer, and Sergey's fantasy was but a beautiful reverie of what was.
The fantasy served a purpose and also gave Sergey a jolt. Instead of feeling only pain for what was, Sergey also for the first time in long while felt some hope. Some faith that maybe one day, he would experience such monumental pleasure once again. The closing image is once again of Sergey alone. Having stepped in from the balcony, Sergey is once again inside, this time embracing the shadow that had previously haunted him. If you want to see more of Sergey's Reverie Rendezvous, check out THE OVER-FLOW HERE: