It took me awhile to appreciate Christopher Guest. As a kid, I found him annoying. Not that he wasn't talented, but my older brothers loved Spinal Tap, and I didn't get the appeal, and was angry every time they chose it on our trips to Blockbuster. But, as I got older, and especially after seeing Best In Show, my love and respect for Guest and his talents grew.
Best In Show (2000)
'I used to be able to name every nut that there was. And it used to drive my mother crazy, because she used to say, "Harlan Pepper, if you don't stop naming nuts," and the joke was that we lived in Pine Nut, and I think that's what put it in my mind at that point. So she would hear me in the other room, and she'd just start yelling. I'd say, "Peanut. Hazelnut. Cashew nut. Macadamia nut." That was the one that would send her into going crazy. She'd say, "Would you stop naming nuts!" And Hubert used to be able to make the sound, he couldn't talk, but he'd go "rrrawr rrawr" and that sounded like Macadamia nut. Pine nut, which is a nut, but it's also the name of a town. Pistachio nut. Red pistachio nut. Natural, all natural white pistachio nut.'
Guest not only directed and wrote (along with Eugene Levy) Beset In Show, his character, hog lovin Harlan Pepper was brilliantly hilarious. When I recently re-watched the movie, way to late into the night on Thursday, I again feel in love with Guest, and Harlen. This time, I started to wonder about Guest's earlier roles. I knew he had a short stint on Saturday Night Live, and although the cast for his season looks amazing, (Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Julia Louis-Dreyfus) it's hard to find much of the 1984 season on-line
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Saturday Night Live (1984)
I decided to look and see if Guest had any on screen nudity, and didn't really expect to find any. But....there is one scene I found from the 1978 film Girlfriends. The independent and low budget film featured Thirtysomething's Melanie Mayron as a photographer, looking at a life alone after her roommate marries and movies out.
The film, directed by Claudia Weill, is described as one of the most influential films about female friendship and is said to be one of Lena Dunham's inspirations for her TV show Girls. Dunham brought director Weill in to also direct an episode of her HOB series. Guest plays Eric, a boyfriend of Susan's (Mayron) who struggles with her independence. Guest has one nude scene, showing his cute bubble butt in a love scene with Mayron.
When I first profiled New York artist Greg Tsontakis-Mally back in 2015, (Portraits and Places) I was struck by a number of things. The stunning images, and the quiet beauty both seen and felt in his photos was what first visually intrigued me. I was secondly fascinated by how creatively Greg weaved his experience as an artist and painter into his views of the male form.
I was also interested in his philosophy of incorporating his model's point of view. Greg enjoys working with his models whereas some artists view models as working for them in the creation of their work. Both perspectives for shooting are acceptable, but each leaves their own unique mark on the work and final images. For me , this is particularly evident in degree's of illusion.
Most photography of the human form, especially in fashion, and with commercial and professional photography, is based on illusion. The photographer's job is to create an image that attracts attention, and in most cases, encourages the viewer to part with some of their money. Who the model is mostly irrelevant to this process, their face, their body, their image, is to create a very specific, and very planned out desired illusion.
Given much of his experience has been with painting and life drawing, Greg is used to replicating what is in front of him, what he see's and not necessarily what he creatively imagines or fantasizes about. That doesn't mean reality and illusion don't collide from time to time, Greg's choice of subject is of course his passion for the male form. What it means, especially in this series of images, is the results are just under the illusion, keeping the viewer just a slightly unbalanced by teetering back and forth between both fantasy and reality.
When I spotted these shots on Greg's Model Mayhem portfolio, I was immediately drawn to these shots of Mister Davis. They were both beautifully erotic while at the same time.... tantalizing unsettling. They also captured the answer to a question I'd had about Mister Davis. Many might remember Mister Davis from his appearances on FH. I first featured his work with Greg Lindeblom in June of last year. (Peligroso) I followed it up four months later by featuring Mister Davis's work in October with Anthony Timiraos. (Skin Deep)
When I worked on the piece in June, Mister Davis was a part of the process, giving his thoughts on the shoot and contributed to the final story. In October, I again tried to reach him for his input, but this time, my questions remained unanswered. I was told Mister Davis was having some life struggles, and was, for a period of time, out of range of any Internet signals...
I knew what that meant, and didn't want to cause him any roaming charges, so just hoped his time away would act as a Janus, a passage to new beginnings. When I saw Greg's images, and noticed the ankle bracelet, I was struck by it's inclusion, and fetish edge and depths of beauty and reality that it added to the images. Greg shared that Mister Davis mentioned the bracelet when they were arranging the shoot. Mister Davis said that most photographers were editing it out of final images, but Greg chose to include it.
'I decided to keep the ankle bracelet in. It had not only an element of truth, but an allusion to implied danger. Mr.Davis did not mind that I included the ankle bracelet. He was great to work with. He has a natural animal grace and couldn’t take a bad pose. He also understood working with a large format camera in mostly natural light demands long exposure times and was able to hold still during the exposure. Almost none of them were out of focus. A pleasure to work with.'