23 November 2012

The Blush of Youth


If there's one thing I love then it's a tasteful male nude, especially if it comes in a big glossy coffee table book. Last year I picked up The Blush of Youth from Bruno Gmünder, and I decided that I'd review it just for a change of pace.

The Blush of Youth is one of several collaborations between renowned San Francisco-based photographer (and LucasFilm lawyer) Howard Roffman, and the models of the Slovakian gay porn studio Bel Ami Online.

The book is presented in a beautiful hard-cover binding, complete with dust-jacket, and features 224 pages of stunning full-colour photographs.

Printed in 2010 the Blush of Youth features such Bel Ami favourites as Andre Boleyn, Kevin Warhol, Jack Harrer, and Dolph Lambert, to name but a few. These models all exude such raw youth and sexuality, with their lean tanned bodies, never having more than a smattering of hair between their legs and under their arms, intoxicating you with every turn of the page. 

The images depict a broad array of backdrops, both indoor and out, taken all across the Hungarian countryside. From intimate scenes shot up close on beds and sofas, to exuberant frolicking amongst foliage, and even the occasional Classical ruin rising up behind an enamoured couple. The photos very much tell a story between the covers, but it's a story where you get to fill in many of the blanks for yourself.

The subject matter itself is just as varied as the backgrounds. There's a veritable assortment of poses and activity on display from one page to the next. From the nude to the clothed, the aroused to the unaroused, individual portraits to group shots. An image of a stolen kiss makes way for a tentative cupping of the groin. A puppy held adorably in a young man's arms, to two men sound asleep within each other's tender embrace. Three youths sat dreamily by the poolside, then later their unclothed bodies intertwined. There are so many special moments captured throughout.


What's wonderful about the images is that they're sensual and erotic, but not overly sexualised. Every photograph is so superbly composed that there's no argument that you're looking at art, as opposed to merely stills from a porn shoot. Somehow the photographer has managed to maintain such a sense of innocence that the occasional close-up photo of a penis seems no more out of place than that of a face. Despite the relative prevalence of erections and fondling, the images always stop short of sex itself, and that gives this book a very special quality. The men may come from the world of porn, and possess a beauty which befits that, but the presentation depicts them in a new light, and it feels refreshing.

The models always seem so natural and at ease, without exception, almost as if the camera wasn't even there. They exhibit playful smirks across their faces, and interact with each other in a way which appears so carefree. It's impossible to read it and not want vanish into one of the scenes and share that experience with them. 

The book uniquely captures all that is good about being young, being gay, and having someone with whom to share that lust and passion which burns inside every man. I'd thoroughly recommend it.


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