I caught up with my Twitter-buddy Leonard James to talk underwear.
When did you first become interested in men’s underwear?
I remember being turned on by the sight of myself in a jock when I was 13. The sight of myself drove me crazy, and I’d run home every day after school to beat everyone else home so I could wank for an hour in my jock, in front of the huge living room mirror. I couldn’t get enough of me.
How have you continued to explore the sexual side of men’s underwear over the years?
When I was 27, I was seduced by a male hustler I met hitching cross-country. It was just something he wanted to do. He left his underwear on the floor one day and it had an intoxicating body odour. It wasn’t rank or anything, it was a delightful, sweet smell that drove me crazy. Even after he washed it, the odour of him would remain.
When he wasn’t around I would beat off smelling it, which was funny, since he would insist on sucking me off everyday anyway. He didn’t have to do that, I would have let him stay just for the company, but he always wanted to have sex with me. For a straight boy, he was awfully good at getting me going — he had this habit of taking off his shorts by lying back and raising his legs over his head so I could see his smooth, baby ass and his balls hang. Talent, you can’t beat it!
I was disappointed when he left since it meant I wouldn’t have the smell of his underwear to excite me anymore. He didn’t even leave one for me.
I’d been wearing boxer shorts, but when I turned 30 I started lifting weights and I started getting turned on by my body again. I stopped wearing underwear altogether. I got so into it that I went from 130 pound scrawny to a 175 pound muscle boy. I loved being around other lifters!
Back then, it was all guys and nobody wore shirts, just small shorts. I miss those days. That led to problems though, since guys were drawn to me just for sex and I tend to be more relationship-oriented.
I did get to date many porn stars, including a few Colt models, though. They were always disappointing sex. They’d started being athletic young, so their personalities never seemed to have developed. The porn guys seemed to think that just being there was enough and that I should be excited just by their presence. They did porn but were sexually un-creative and unimaginative. I’m a pretty square guy, but I had the chance to develop emotionally with values and varied interests, so those guys didn’t impress me much.
I was surprised to find myself desperately in love with a skinny but bubble-butted dude who was a biological engineer at Berkeley — I lived just down the street. I soon developed an attraction to his habit of wearing tiny, ripped jean shorts in his off hours, with white athletic socks. Sometimes his balls would hang out of them, or part of his ass when he bent over, which drove me crazy. I started imitating his dress.
Mostly I really liked being naked. Sometimes, I would sneak into the university gym at night — as an employee I had keys — and do an extra workout nude. I got seen, but the guys were impressed so I was never reported.
Things were a lot looser then.There was a lot of nudity about. I even used to go walk up in the hills above the university nude. It was great. When people saw me naked they seemed to be relieved — as if I’d given them permission by doing it — and would also take off off their clothes. My freedom appeared to also free them.
It wasn’t until I was forty, though, and living in Portland, that the underwear thing really took off. I don’t know why, it just did. Suddenly I found myself going through porn shops for sexy undergear.
There was also a catalogue from San Diego called Undergear and I started buying a lot of stuff from them. Once a year they would have a clearance sale and I could get the past year’s inventory for a song. I would fly down every August. I could load up — since it was the larger sizes that didn’t sell and I was now 200 pounds of beef — I would buy 20–30 pairs of skimpy underwear.
Then something happened and I got greedy for more sexual stuff. I’m an artist, so I started designing my dream underwear. I met a man who made leather stuff and I took him my drawings. He loved them because they were challenging to do. So I designed harnesses and leather underwear and he made them — some of them I still have.
About that time I also got the idea to have my nipples pierced. It seemed the next step in my sexual journey. Being a sociable guy with a wide variety of acquaintances and friends, a piercer who had heard that I wanted them done came to my job on my birthday and pierced them for free as a gift — right there at my post as people watched.
I still go to porn stores looking for stuff that might appeal to me. I go there once a month when they liquidate the stuff they haven’t sold. Again, being a large guy, it’s my sizes they often don’t sell, so I get my pick. I also found that sometimes Amazon has neat stuff for really good prices, and I’ve bought some pretty slinky stuff from them.
How many pairs of underwear do you own?
Who knows? I have three drawers full, and a couple of tubs in my closet for the leather gear.
It seems silly to keep collecting the stuff, since I don’t date anymore, but I love buying it when I see something really cool — and I love it when guys at the gym forget to take their underwear. If it smells good I take it.
Which are your favourite brands of underwear?
I no longer have a favourite brand. I go for whatever appeals at the time. During the 90s I did have a thing for 2(X)IST, but they stopped being creative and just kept putting out the same stuff year after year.
Which styles of underwear do you prefer?
I have no preference for any particular style, though I do lean toward skimpy stuff and different jocks. I can sometimes be drawn to things like football padded leggings — but that gets a bit expensive, so I don’t have many of those. Plus, they tend to slide down in the back and I’m always pulling them up. Annoying.
What are some of the next steps in continuing to explore your passion for men’s underwear?
I really have nobody to talk to about the underwear thing. Not that I don’t want to talk about it, it’s just that no one I know shares my interest. I went on a site a couple of years ago and there was this guy who advertised wanting to swap underwear. I was excited — the thought of getting someone’s used underwear with their smell on it appealed to me. I sent him about five pairs that I’d lost interest in. He sent a thank you note, said he liked them, but never sent me any undergear of his own. I was pissed, as you can imagine.
I’m getting on in years now. I was stabbed by a crazed meth-head on a bus five years ago, and it’s taken all this time to heal and I’m only now getting back to the gym. I’m swimming every other day to lose the fat I gained while recuperating. I can’t believe it’s taken so many years, but I was cut open from groin to sternum and was laid up for a year with in-home nursing care in a hospital bed. I had to learn to walk again. I had no idea how much we use our abdominal muscles to walk. I’m still in pain, and the doctors say that I always will be. Worse yet, I’ll never have a flat stomach — even if I get down to a six-pack.
So, I’m conditioning myself to get back into lifting weights by swimming. I’ve changed my diet and lost 20 pounds in the last two months, but I still have a way to go. I do prefer being over 200 pounds but I have to build it up in muscle again. I’m also having to bear the embarrassment of having the humongous scar up my front. But it doesn’t matter, I still have to get on with life. Maybe someday someone will be attracted to me just the way I am, but I have to accept what has happened to my body first.
In the photos, I was already 64 and a bit pudgy — but I do like a little extra on me, just like I do on my men. Dating lean porn guys and models was unappealing on another level. Being with a lean guy is more like cuddling up to a rock — I don’t like it. It looks good, but it doesn’t feel good. I like a little give in a guy. I like cuddling into muscle covered in a bit of extra. A bit of fat on a butt makes me drool.
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How to explore your fetish fantasy
I caught up with Will Kane from calendar-boys to talk about the art of fetish photography.
When did you discover and start exploring your passion for photography?
From as far back as I can remember, I was always into photography. I remember going on school trips at primary school and always making sure I had a camera with me. Back in the 80s, I was always very clear about what I wanted to shoot and who’d be in the shoot - making the tall kids stand at the back, and getting lots of heckling and shouts of ‘hurry up’ - but I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and this was back in the day where you had to leave your film with the chemist and wait a week to get them back to see if you had decapitated anyone.
I think I probably got a new camera every year for Christmas. My first camera had the 110 film, then I remember getting the disc camera which was super slim and deemed revolutionary at the time, then I went through a stage of disposable cameras because they were cheap and I’d then get them printed on CDs so I could edit and save them.
About 10 years ago, a colleague at work inspired me to a Canon camera. It’s so fancy - it has so many features that I don’t even need or use, but it allows me to capture the images I need before I manipulate them into the finished product.
What drew you to specialise in fantasy fetish-wear photo-shoots?
Who doesn’t love a man in uniform! I love a fancy dress party, either throwing them or attending them, but either way I take my costume very seriously. As a result, I’ve ended up with about 10 cool uniforms that I acquired from eBay, Amazon, and various specialist online stores. People always commented on how authentic the outfits were at these various parties, and obviously people always seemed to want a pic standing next to me in whatever outfit I was in.
I began to think I could combine these two things - my passion for photography and my love of sourcing authentic genuine costumers. I thought that there must be guys like me - normal build, shy-ish, non-scene, that most likely don’t fit the stereotype of what a fetish-wear guy looks like. I’m not a baldy, bearded, buff bear, but every time I wore the CHiPs outfit from the 70s TV show, I felt incredibly powerful, sexy, and horny.
I’m also a member of fetish app Recon, and I get lots of messages from guys who look at me in some of my pics and are very surprised that someone like me would be into leather and uniforms. My response is always the same - do not judge a book by its cover.
What sort of guys are you interested in commissioning you to take photos of them in fetish-wear?
All sorts - I shoot anyone and everyone! When I see pics of guys in fetish-wear they usually fit the stereotype of being buff, bald, bearded bears. It led me to think - What about us less built guys? What about us shy guys? Also, fetish-wear can be expensive, so I thought that if someone has seen some leather porn and thinks - ’I’d love to get some chaps but wonder if they’d suit me’ - this way they can come to my studio and have some cool and hot new pics, and also see how’d they look in leather. A new pair of chaps cost upwards of £200, but my shoots cost a fraction of that.
Shy guys and curious guys are made especially welcome, as I understand their nervousness about appearing in gear. When I first bought chaps and a waistcoat and put it on for the first time, I felt incredibly powerful and horny and sexy but also was aware that to some potentially ‘hardcore’ leathermen I probably looked ridiculous. I’m part of a group called Leathermen South, which is based in Brighton. They’re always encouraging me to don my leathers and attend one of their meets, but it’s only me holding me back. It’s a confidence thing.
I’m also happy to shoot anyone who is already into fetish-wear. Maybe they have lots of leather and trackies, but want to try on some police uniforms - I have six to choose from. Or, maybe guys want some new pics for various social media or hook up apps, or it could be a gift to a partner, or if you’re having a party and fancy some pics for a super cool invite. I’ve had guys who want to surprise their boyfriend for a calendar for their office so they can gaze at them adoringly 365 days a year.
I’m happy to shoot duos - a couple of mates together, or perhaps a couple. I’m also happy to shoot them in some amorous positions, but I need to make clear that I’m not a pornographer. I have had lots of interest from guys who want to get into porn - I’ve been able to give them some great shots to send off to porn producers and studios. My studio is very welcoming and very private, and has a well-stocked fridge to ease any nerves.
When I’m scouting for models, sometimes I get guys who have no clue that they have this amazing look and are pleasantly surprised at the end results. I had this one guy who was short and stocky and super sexy. He had a silver crop, so I suggested that he’d look amazing as a skinhead. He’d never thought of that look, but when he donned the gear he looked like a different person and developed this hard-man persona while in gear. The outfits themselves have powerful qualities.
What sort of gear do you have available?
I have over 70 costumes and outfits and props and scenarios to choose from. Within that 70, there are also variations, so even one particular genre can maybe take a good hour to shoot with all the various gear and props I have.
This is something that I discuss with the client before the shoot, to make sure that I have everything in their size and also to make sure they’re all washed and ready to wear. I have the usual stereotypical items that us gay guys seem to like - leather, sports gear, suits, and many, many uniforms.
My collection took quite a while to accumulate, as I was getting suggestions from friends and online fetish forums. Previous models I’ve had have really surprised me in what they’ve found sexy. A few models said that they really liked the paramedic uniform. I’ve had so many requests for lingerie. I also have some superhero costumes.
Is the photoshoot itself a sexual thing?
It is indeed! Guys can’t help being aroused, so thankfully my studio is very private and not overlooked, so guys can disrobe and parade around naked as much as they like. For those shy guys, I have slippers and dressing gowns for guys to wear between takes and costume changes. My studio also gets quite hot under the studio lights, and I have a TV there with various DVDs if guys need some visual stimulation for ‘adult’ pics.
There are times when I’ve had to leave my studio when I’ve gotten aroused - I’ve had to go away and ‘adjust’ myself, as it’s not very professional and I’d prefer guys to look into my lens not my bulge. I have had guys message me and ask if I’ll be naked for the shoot, or if I’ll also be dressed up in fetish-wear. The answer is no - I’m too busy assembling their outfits and props for their shoot.
Because we’re much more open these days, we’re able to discuss our porn-watching habits more openly and so a lot of guys want to emulate their favourite porno genres - army, builder, boxer, convict, cop, cowboy, doctor, firefighter. The fact that my studio is private and warm also makes guys feel more comfortable disrobing in front of strangers, but also some guys are just exhibitionists. I have a huge full-length mirror, so guys can constantly check themselves out when in gear. I shoot everything against a white backdrop - I then Photoshop the background to match the outfit.
My job is to make everyone feel super-confident and make them look as amazing as I can so that they’re not disappointed with the end result pics.
If I was a bit fetish curious, how would I go about organising a photo-shoot to start to explore that side of my sexuality?
Guys get in touch through my website. That way they’ve mostly already looked at all the different outfits that I have to choose from. I given them a call, and we discuss the outfits that have caught their eye. I ask about what outfits they find sexy on others, what porn they watch - lots of different questions to get a picture of what’s going to work best for them. Then, we book the shoot in and we start to bring those fantasies to life.
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