'An American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi-Gras in New Orleans.'
I've never been to Mardi Gras, but it's definitely on my bucket list. Thanks to great photographers and great images however, we get to experience many things as sort of teasers or visual foreplay for the real thing. With Fat Tuesday this week, and Mardi Gras already in full swing, I thought it was time to celebrate the annual carnival, FH style of course!
I wasn't initially aware that Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, was rooted in religion. Fat Tuesday begins on or just after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany and ends on Ash Wednesday. Many know that one of the holiday's traditions has always been women flashing their breasts for beads. Thankfully, men have also gotten into the action, flashing their junk in order to have another strand to hang around their necks.
The original idea was for Christians to get all of of their 'naughty' behavior out of their systems before heading to Church the next morning to mark the first day of Lent. It was thought of a healthy way to exorcise that devil deep inside... If you want to see more hot hunks exorcising their demons, check out more pics on PAGE 2 HERE:
When Mark sent on this series, I was blown away by the drama and beauty of Anthony and Robert, posing in such a breathtaking location in their stunningly unique headdresses. I initially thought I'd find a way to feature the shoot over Easter, but when I decided a Mardi Gras theme was in order, I knew they'd be a perfect fit.
The headpieces were not designed for Mardi Gras, and the shoot didn't occur in New Orleans. The elaborate designs however, and the magical and mythical qualities Mark described, are a beautiful compliment to the theme. The location was thousands of miles from New Orleans in Tarifa, Spain and the reasons for shoot went beyond just a holiday, parade or party.
In past features about Mark's work, I mentioned the elements of design and fashion weaved within his visuals. In addition to photography, Mark's field of study also included dance and fine arts sculpture, and you can see the influences of all three in much of Mark's work, especially this shoot.
'I was asked to design them for a performance - a fundraising and awareness event for breast cancer. I gave one condition - two decent, daring, creative and striking models.'
The choreographer suggested Mark use a model named Anthony and his brother brother Robert. This ended up being a positive sign as when the choreographer asked Mark if he knew of Anthony, Mark was happy to reply that he'd worked with Anthony many times before, in fact in all his years of shoot, Anthony is the model Mark's worked with more than any other.
'Both guys immediately agreed and it was great working with them I chose the music - one Indian and the other African and suggested an interpretation - but both models understood what it was all about and they were great. Of course the best thing for me was shooting them afterwards - we went to the sand dunes - even though it wasn't the best of days and it was windy but we worked with that too I had never worked with Robert and he shows as much promise as Anthony'
'I enjoyed every aspect of this project - from sourcing materials, to designing, to creating them, setting them on stage, shooting and editing!'
'My friend, Will Harrison does themed parties as a business and we were shooting at his house. Will has many different outfits, props and masks. it is a photographer's dream place to do a photo shoot at.'
In addition to the vibrant colors, the King cake, beads and parades, one of Mardi Gras' most well known traditions is the wearing of elaborate and sparkling masks. The masks origins date back to the 1700's when the original revelers went door to door singing and begging for offerings. The purpose of the masks to both hide and protect the identities of those behind them.
Although the original purpose isn't as relevant today, masks are still used to conceal the identity of the wearers, for a number of reasons. Some of the 'goings on' during the annual celebration may not be ones you want your neighbours to necessarily bear witness to and the masks, especially for more well known resident of The Big Easy, not to mention politicians or celebrities visiting the city to celebrate and party. It is still a law in the city that Krewe members on floats wear a mask!
Our sexy mask wearer today is Joe P, a model many FH might remember from a couple of pieces from 2017 in which he also first appeared in disguise. (Loaded For Bear | Bear Suit/Bare Suit) The features with Joe were some of the first pieces I did featuring the work of Jim from Studio1x and remain favorites.
'Joe had responded to an ad that I had posted about doing a photo shoot. We chatted a bit on line about the shoot and what to expect. He became very excited about doing one, so we set the date. He does not have a car, so I had to pick him up and we drove to a friends house that we were going to do the shoot at. My friend, Will Harrison does themed parties as a business (Visuwil Productions) and we were shooting at his house. Will has many different outfits, props and masks. it is a photographer's dream place to do a photo shoot at.'
Jim originally sent this set of images along with the images I used of Joe in and out of the bear suit back in 2017. I loved the masks and feathers and incredible colors in the props Will had on hand. I originally tucked this set away for Mardi Gras last year. I had never celebrated Fat Tuesday on FH before. (and you know how I love celebrating a holiday...) and these were perfect for the occasion. Last year's Mardi Gras occurred on February 13th, and my focus was on Valentines and missed the opportunity to feature the shoot. I wasn't about to let another year go by without celebrating Jim's erotically festive shots of Joe.
'Joe had recently moved to the United States from Costa Rica and was living with his uncle while attending college here is the USA. He started out quite quiet, I am sure that had to do with being a bit nervous about it being a nude shoot. Joe was a natural in front of the camera, the way he moved his body and his poses were all so natural. The lighting loved his body, the way it played off his muscular frame was amazing.'
'Joe really came to life when my friend Will brought out some of his costumes and masks to use. Will dressed, styled and assisted in posing of Joe while we spent the next hour shooting Joe in different outfits/masks. When a model puts on a mask, they now can become whoever they want to be, and really do come to life. It was one of those shoots that you wish would never come to an end.'
That purpose of the masks that Jim describes,is exactly why they so often prove such a magical element to lower inhibitions for both revellers in New Orleans, and for male models posing completely nude, With the mask, and in the case of Mardi Gras, often high volumes of alcohol, help people to shed the barriers that often hold them back, and tap into the wild and sensual and even sometimes dark sides of our personalities, a side that at least once a year... requires unleashing.
'Wes Block is a detective who’s put on the case of a serial killer. His victims are young and pretty women, which he rapes and murders. The murders are getting personal when the killer chooses victims who are acquaintances of Block. Even his daughters are threatened.'
Why Clint Eastwood, why the film Tightrope on Mardi Gras? Well... search for Mardi Gras themed movies, or movies with Mardi Gras scenes proved fairly easy, but finding one with any male nude scenes proved a little more difficult. Tightrope, like so many Mardi Gras themed films, goes for the serial killer angle, looking at the underbelly of the city and the celebration. Tightrope even comes with it's own creppy Mardi Gras float warehouse scene.
Reviews for the 1984 thriller were mixed, with many noting Eastwood was terribly miscast and far too stiff for to the play detective Wes Block. Although Eastwood had showed his butt on screen before, his butt baring in Tightrope was a little different for the then 54 year old actor. It's brief, only a few seconds, but long enough to see a slight finch in Eastwood's wet butt cheeks as the camera pans over his body.
Given in the scene, Eastwood's character was having sex with prostitute, I give directors (Eastwood, along with Richard Tuggle) kudos for having the camera pan over Eastwood's butt and not his female co-star (Margaret Howell).