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.
We want to hear your opinion
Welcome to planet Akeron
Sandy Pianim from Recon sits down with body modfication specialists Alex and Yan to talk tattoos and fetish.
Tattoos & Piercings are a fetish interest we rarely get to shine a light on at Recon. So, when we met this French couple during Fetish Week London 2017 we knew that we’d eventually sit down with them to discuss what it is about body modification that makes them tick. Welcome to planet Akeron!
Alex and Yan are so distinctly different from everything around them in Nice – the sunny city on the French Riviera where they are based and run their tattoo and piercing business, Akeron Body Mod – that their impact is all the more powerful. As rare fetish visitors, we’re greeted with warmth and excitement, though this greeting would extend to all. “We wanted to create a safe space for anyone… for fetish people or not. To offer them the opportunity to do body mods, tattoos, [and] piercings in a non-judgemental place – which is very important and to help people with their journey.” Alex tells us.
It’s evident that the pair have been on quite a journey of self-discovery together and regard themselves as aliens, which is fitting given their appearance.
“When I met Yan he only had one tattoo and two piercings” Alex says “So I helped him modify his appearance. I’ve been into body piercing and modification since I was 14 and I got my first heavy body mod when I was 18”
Yan recounts his first piercings “I did my first piercings myself, my labret and naval, I was like 16. [Though] I also had my ears pierced when I was 12.”
We asked them what they like about modifying themselves and Yan explains, “For us it’s not a real fetish, It’s a way of life. We don’t think about it, we live for tattoos and piercings. It’s a passion for us. It’s a way of freedom”
The themes of freedom and self-expression are evident in their desire to have more done. “As you get older you discover yourself and try a lot of things. It wasn’t fashion.” Trying to find the words to describe how they enjoy pushing their limits in English, Yan jokes “We like to stretch holes! Sometimes on Sunday we don’t have anything to do then it’s like ‘Oh why don’t we do some scarification today? OK!’ Or a new piercing or a new tattoo.”
They must have a lot of free Sundays, as they’re covered head to toe with a variety of modifications. This approach also gets us wondering if they had any limits. Alex says, “Everything I said no to when I was younger, I ended up doing anyway, so never say never. We don’t like limits.”
How this lack of limits translates into their sex life seems a salient point, so we ask what their other fetish interests are. Alex discovered his love for rubber and bondage from some guys he met on Recon in Nice about five years ago. He also mentions that he loves deep throating. “I would say it’s my main talent in life!” Yan interjects jokingly, referring to the movie Alien, “And I’m a face hugger!”
If you’re wondering how they manage to have sex with all their piercings, Yan fills us in, “It’s horrible to fuck with all our piercings. You cannot suck. There is always something that goes wrong…” Alex interrupts with his disagreement of this, but Yan continues “He’s lost a lot of piercings. Always losing piercings!” Alex concedes this point. “I used to have some high Monroe piercings with tiny balls when I did them. Maybe one or two days after I got them, Yan was fucking my mouth, the balls came in and it went so bad! He can’t help himself. He likes to make me suffer. He’s a bit of a sadist.”
Not only have they evolved together with regards to their body modification, but Alex continues with telling us how Yan helped him evolve sexually. “When I met Yan, I was mostly top and then he forced me into being a greedy bottom. I discovered anal pleasure with him. I’m very thankful for it because now I enjoy it from both top and bottom. I would never have imagined being here four years ago. It’s constant evolution.”
Alex has a list set out in his mind about what he wants his next evolutions to be. “I want my labret cut again, I would love my conch removed, I would like my eyes touched up, my tongue split a bit more, my nipples removed, my naval removed, and my dick implants with some silicone work. Not silicone injections, silicone implants… bits and ribs. I would like a lot of silicone work on my arms as well and facial scarification, more facial tattoos done… a lot of stuff.”
One might think that even after all they’ve done that the pain associated with these procedures is second nature. They both exclaim, “Of course we feel the pain!” Alex continues, “I don’t enjoy pain at all, I’m just willing to get through it for the results.”
The couple have to deal with people’s perception of them and whilst we hang out we notice people’s reaction to them more and more. Yan reasons, “The fact is that we haven’t invented anything, it’s just modification that has been around for thousands of years.” When they feel like people think they’re odd or scary Alex’s response is, “…I say thank you. It’s definitely not my point to be scary, but if that’s the perception from others then ok, I don’t care.”
One of the most noticeable reasons why people stop and stare could be due to their most dramatic modification: their eyes. “In a lot of sci-fi movies what makes the difference between humans and every animal or extra-terrestrial thing is the eye colour. It definitely changes you. It takes the humanity away, and that’s what I really like about it” says Alex. Yann adds, “The day after, it felt like we were reborn.”
Alex’s shares his view with us. “We don’t live for other people. I can understand their reaction, as they’re not used to seeing people like us, but we’re here to open minds.” Yann adds, “And that we are free, it’s a free country, it’s important for us. Some humans are not free today. People cannot be themselves. We are lucky to be here and to be free, together as gays. We can do what we want so we have to enjoy it.”
We love Akeron’s spirit and energy and encourage people to go to Nice to visit them and their shop or reach out to them on Recon or social media with any tattoo, piercing or body modification questions and queries.
Photos by Joaquin Bielsa for Recon
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