'May you be surrounded by friends and family, and if this is not your lot, may the blessings find you in your solitude.'
I always found the Leonard Cohen quot above incredibly meaningful. Leonard sent his audience off with those parting words at the end of many of his concerts during his 2012 Old Ideas tour. What struck me at the time was that it was one of the first times I'd so beautifully heard blessings sent so complete and all inclusive.
So many people struggle, especially at Christmas. We're almost encouraged to feel less than, especially if our lives don't mirror those lives society deems worthy of receiving blessing. Those people we see on television, in commercials or on holiday cards. They;re always surrounded by friends and family. Those shiny happy people, laughing, toasting, playing games and dining and celebrating together.
We all know that's not the reality. Sometimes, due to circumstance, other times, it's by choice. Christmas is the one time of year we're encouraged to let go, even temporarily, or our struggles. It's also the time of year those struggles grip harder, requiring more energy to hold them at bay.
So many of the incredible hot men FH viewers visually enjoy, struggled to get to the point where you see them. The point of being comfortable being physically and emotionally bare in front of a camera. I have always found these stories of struggles oddly comforting. Like Cohen's parting words to his audiences, there's something beautifully inclusive, and incredibly powerful about a struggle shared, a struggle seen and a struggle acknowledged.
Cohen voiced his awareness that not everyone driving home from his concerts was returning to a picture perfect life. Some were returning to solitude, many others arrived home to face pain, disease, financial burden, social obstacles or heartbreak. Regardless of circumstance, Cohen believed that we deserve the blessings to find us.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy Hanukkah to everyone checking out FH today. My wish is that the blessing find you and that an image seen or a story shared, provides a break from your struggle, even if just for a moment.
'At Auntie Roo's house, the hand that rocks the cradle has no flesh on it!
I knew nothing about 1971's Who Slew Auntie Roo? when I set my DVR to record it earlier this year. It was a welcomed surprise. FH readers know my love of holidays and I have especially enjoyed finding films that mash the horror elements of Halloween with Christmas themed in film.
The films premise is sweet enough. Mrs. Rosie Forrest, (Auntie Roo) is a sweet widow who throws a lavish Christmas bash at each season for the children of the local orphanage. All of the children long to attend the party and spend time at Auntie Roo's huge mansion. The mansion is called Forrest Grange, but is known to the orphans as 'The Gingerbread House'.
Unfortunately, not everyone can attend, on the ten best mannered children are given the privilege. Sadly, that brother and sister Christopher and Katy Coombs (Mark Lester and Chloe Franks) are left off the list. They decide they're going anyway and hide in a car and end up at the party.
Although Auntie Roo (Shelley Winters) welcomes them, things don't turn out as festive as they hoped. Soon, the orphaned siblings learn Auntie Roo isn't as sweet as everyone thought, especially when they find the mummified remains of her daughter Katharine she keeps in the nursery room in the attic.
So... always on the look-out for a subject for 12 Days, whenever I see a great holiday film, I check to see if any of the actors have done a on screen nudity. British actor Mark Lester, who played Christopher Coombs, indeed had three future nude scenes on his resume. Leaning out them however, took me down a fascinating Rabbit Hole I didn't quite expect. Check out my findings on the next page for one of my more riskier editions of Actors (HERE:) & Skin. (HERE:)
Twas the week before Christmas, Gordon close to a tizzy
The house still undecorated, the photographer too busy
The stockings were still in a box by the stairs
The Tree still untrimmed, needing someone with flare
Mr. Nebeker knew, that he needed some aid
The halls needed decking, the plum pudding to be made
He picked up his phone, in a holiday daze
Calling the 1-800 # for an Elfin Emblaze
The holidays get busy and we all need some help from time to time. Fortunately, Gordon Nebeker always knows just where to find the perfect holiday helper. For the last several years, Gordon has found a helpful holiday hunk to deck the halls, hang the stockings, and trim the tree. In addition to being creative and agile, that step ladder can be dangerous.... the energetic elf also has to be prepared to toss that tinsel in the altogether.
Over the years, Gordon has brought in many effervescent elves to help with the holiday hoopla, and Mark was already a favorite. Many FH readers may remember that it was Mark who also assisted Gordon with sprucing up his mantel and lighting up his boughs back in 2017. (HERE:) Given they worked together several times before, the house was decorated in no time.
This ended up being a good thing, Mark needed some time to wash off all the glitter that the afternoon of decorating had left all over his body. Not all Christmas elves like being photographed while at work, most are known to be notoriously shy. Mark only had one rule, given the cold temperatures and snow, he wasn't going to climb the ladder, and hang the lights outside completely naked. Mark insisted on at least wearing his green velvet winklepickers!
Mark keeps his trim elfish shape, meaning next to no body fat, by mostly avoiding the stuffing and gravy, participating in gumdrop relay races, joining his teammates for elf bowing and playing competitive rugby. Mark makes his elf living mostly through active jobs like tree trimming and decorating. This busy elf routinely turns down the countless offers he gets to sit complacently on shelves compiling notes on who's been naughty and who's been nice.
'The work of getting ready for Christmas would never happen, at least in my case, without the assistance of Santa’s helpers; the elves. They are masterful at trimming the tree and decking the halls and one can not say enough good things about them. Our elf this year is Mark who has helped us before so he knows how high to go up the ladder, which ornaments go where, and exactly where to hang the mistletoe! He always wears a smile on his face but nothing else. (We don’t complain!) Perhaps we keep the house too warm in the Winter??'
Most children used to get their first visuals of Santa from books. Those big picture story books they are read to at bedtime. Parents haul from the top shelf each December building excitement and anticipation as the 25th approaches. Although the internet may have changed this experience for children growing up today, but those early visuals sparked the Christmas magic that can only exist in a child's imagination.
Although the source of our first visuals may differ, for most of us, our first actual experience with meeting Father Christmas up close was fairly universal. If you grew up anytime before the 2000's, you probably had your first meeting with Santa at a mall. The set up was pretty much the same. A crowded corner, a long line, a Christmas display, and a big Santa throne.
The display was usually quite elaborate, colorfully decorated in an attempt to hold a child's attention until Santa arrived from the North Pole. After what seemed like an eternity, Santa would finally arrive, you'd then have your 45 seconds, sputter out your list, then leave more deflated than excited with a mini candy cane as your prize.
When Lights on Studio's Tom Nakielski sent on his Christmas shoot with Ken, I my first thoughts were of those holiday displays. Tom's images were an instant Christmas feast for the eyes. The appetizer; the delectable colors, the holiday background, the decorations and props. The entrée of course is Ken. Ken has such beautiful eyes, and that smile! I especially devoured his incredible physique and the lines and magnificent curves he created though pose.
Although seconds were certainly in order, I was intrigued by what I perceived had to be the dessert. Now it may not be as sweet, chocolatey or gooey as what one would usually think of as an after dinner treat, but for some reason, the culmination of this particular meal was the chair. I know it's just some wood and material glued and nailed together, but the antique Queen Anne fascinated me.
It wasn't just that it reminded me of Santa's throne, the focal piece of those Santa Village displays. It was more the way in which Ken flexible physique contrasted with the hard, square and fixed object. Tom's images capture Ken on, over and beside the four legged seat, creating an erotically ductile power behind Santa's throne.
Ken's elegant poses come from his experience as a dancer, singer, actor and musician. Based in New York, Ken is often traveling on the road, providing the opportunity for he and Tom to connect. Tom had been working with another model for a holiday shoot, but when that fell through, he jump on the opportunity to work with Ken who was going to be in town for work for a week.
'Not only in shape, and good looking but also a dancer. Perfect. Ken is from Hawaii but traveling the states. It was my good fortune that he happened to be in Lansing just as I was looking for someone to do a Christmas themed session. He said he wasn't really a model but more of a dancer. But he was as good as any "model" I have worked with. And better than most.'
'Ken was a joy to work with. When I was suggesting a pose he would say "don't worry I got a handle on this". And he would go through various poses exceeding my expectations. He exuded confidence in front of the camera. His poses emitted both grace and masculinity. To top it off as I was thinking of a pose to do he would already have suggestions of what to do. I am thrilled to see an idea come to life before my eye. Living art.'
'I had a lot of fun working with Tom! Along with efforts to capture his visions, Tom was to open to letting me express. While I moved freely within the constructs of the theme/props, Tom shot continuously making for great unexpected art. Of course, I say that as a dancer who is very comfortable with nudity and movement.'
We've all done some last minute Christmas shopping, but how about last minute shooting? When Naked Ambition's George called his latest shoot 'Short Fuse' Christmas, I thought I knew what he meant. My mind went to the craziness of the season and how we can all have short fuses, especially with relatives in the spare room, at Christmas. I also thought Chevy Chase turning on the light display in Christmas Vacation...
George wasn't talking about his mood and patience, nor his holiday light display. George was referring to a quick last minute naughty Santa shoot he put together with photographer Antonio Lopez. FH readers my remember that I featured some of George's previous work with Antonio last year, (HERE:) minus that Santa hat and see through red tulle fabric. George' Santa looks both naughty, and maybe a little pensive about his upcoming trip across the globe. If I were one of his elves, I would be on my best behaviour!
Sexualizing teen idols isn't new, we see it all the time. Pop stars like One Direction, Justin Bieber and Britany Spears were all still in their teens when provocative lyrics and images were used to sell their brand. Teen magazines, especially back in the 70's and 80's try to get everyone shirtless. Lief Garrett, Matthew Labyorteaux and so many others were photographed in sexually suggestive poses at a very young age.
I'm not sure I've ever seen a young male star as sexualized to quite the same degree as British actor Mark Lester. So... let's back up. Before appearing in Whoever Slew Auntie Roo, Lester was already a huge child star thanks to his lead role in the 1968 musical Oliver. Lester was 10 when Oliver was filmed, but he began working professionally at the age of 4.
With his blonde hair and beautiful face, Lester became an instant teen idol, and he and Oliver co-star Jack Wild (The Artful Dodger) began appearing in teen magazines all over Europe and Asia. Although both were still barely teens, they were often photographed shirtless or in bathing suits. Although the images were on the surface quite innocent, the underlying message to fans seemed pretty clear.
Mark with Oliver co-star Jack Wild
When I typed 'Mark Lester nude' into my search engine, I hoped to find a few nude scene of the actor when he got older. I found three. Unfortunately, although they were all in films after Auntie Roo, they also were all filmed before Lester turned 18.
How did I learn this... well, as I said, I ended up down a Rabbit Hole, to sites, I wish were not in my browser history. Nothing too bad really, but a couple of of message boards focused on images of young actors under the age of 20. Now Lester didn't appear in anything illegal, nor anything too explicit, but he did did appear in three European films which took advantage of the the perceived appeal of the young actor.
First off, let me say that all three films were main stream films, all released on the big screen in Europe. All three are also easily obtainable, all are for sale on Amazon and various other movie sites. They all featured relatively known actors, and there was one that I especially enjoyed.
Lester's nudity is quite tame, except for the fact he was a teenager. It's interesting, and a bit sad, that Lester's film career actually ended at the same time his teen years did. His last major film was 1977's The Prince and the Pauper which was filmed when Lester was 19.
The Prince and the Pauper (1977)
I'm not sure if the end of Lester's film career ended when he began to look older, but he did retire from the business shortly after turning 20. Lester then trained as an osteopath, specialising in sport injuries. I see he came out of retirement in 2011 to do a short film, (Metered) and appears to have two films in post production for future release.
La prima volta, sull'erba (1975)
So,,, I mentioned that this is one of my riskier 12 days, but it was an interesting one to take. Without posting any images or clips that could be considered inappropriate, I take a safe look at three of Lester's films, and discuss the actors on-screen nudity in the Actors & SKIN part of the story below. It's fascinating to look at how nudity was handled in the 70's. Although each of the three films I spotlight were all European, America also dipped their toes in similar waters (think Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby) in the 70's.