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I caught up with author Jake Biondi to talk about his series Boystown, and also his new drama Majesty.

What was your initial inspiration for the Mancini Brothers and the dramas of Boystown?

I’ve always been a huge fan of serial dramas such as Dynasty, Melrose Place, Dallas, and Revenge. Boystown was born out of that interest. I thought it was time for a serialised story that had a gay focus and, since I live in Chicago’s Boystown neighbourhood, it seemed like the perfect setting. Boystown is a very diverse neighbourhood, and I wanted to make sure that the series reflected that diversity.

Every great saga has a main family, Boystown has two — the Mancini family, and the Ciancio family. The Mancini brothers — Justin, Derek, and Emmett — propel the story-lines in the first book. Although the Ciancio family isn’t introduced until the second book in the Boystown series, their history with the Mancini family quickly becomes clear. This inter-generational family feud causes much of the drama.

When you started writing Boystown, did you imagine that the story would expand over so many different episodes?

Boystown has a really unique history. I wrote a single chapter, posted it online, and waited for feedback. I promised myself not to be disappointed if no one read it, but quite the opposite happened. Almost instantaneously, readers started to email me asking what was going to happen next. They seemed to connect with the characters and the stories right away. They asked me to write more instalments, so I did. It was at that point that I realised that the series was starting to take off and grow a fan base.

Now, here we are, eight books later, and Boystown is still going strong with readers from all over the world. It’s been a very exciting experience — interacting with the fans has been one of the best parts of it.

You shaped the narrative of Boystown partly in response to feedback and suggestions from readers. Did the feedback from readers surprise you?

Some of the responses did surprise me. For example, I had no idea that people would become so protective of Keith and Emmett — they loved that couple. When I broke them up towards the middle of the first book, fans reacted strongly — they were not happy with me.

Readers have also reacted strongly to Derek and Cole. Some wanted them together, others wanted Derek to stay with Joyelle. Officer Michael Martinez is another great example. I created the character only because I needed a police officer for a certain plot line. I had no intention of Michael being a main character, but fans loved him and his sense of humour so much that I wrote more of him, and now he’s a core member of the series.

While I realise that I’m never going to satisfy everyone all of the time, I think fans have come to trust my decisions because they know I’m going to take them on a wild roller-coaster of a ride. Twists, turns, and cliffhangers have become the hallmarks of Boystown, and readers can’t seem to get enough of them.

Have we reached the end of Boystown now?

No way! As long as people want more Boystown, I will keep on writing the series. I’m working on the ninth Boystown book right now. It’s scheduled to be released at Christmas. We’re also working on the TV version of the series. There’s plenty more of Boystown to come.

Your new book is Majesty— how similar is the style of this book to Boystown?

While the writing style of the two series is similar, Majesty’s content is very different from Boystown — not just because it’s a period piece that takes place in the Middle Ages.

Majesty is a family-driven drama that focuses on the royal Chamberlain family, and those members of their kingdom with whom they interact. Majesty is a continuing saga, like Boystown, but that’s where the similarities end. I think readers will find Majesty to be an exciting adventure.

You’re again looking for your readers to help drive the narrative, releasing the first chapter of the book and encouraging feedback and suggestions. What sort of feedback have you had so far?

I thought it would be a unique way to launch the series, and get readers immediately connected to it. So far, feedback has been very positive and fans seem to like the characters. I hope even more readers will check out the first chapter and let me know what they think.

Majesty by Jake Biondi

Majesty, by Jake Biondi (image supplied)

Who is your audience?

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The audience for Boystown and Majesty is incredibly diverse. While the stories themselves have a gay focus, they appeal to a broader audience. My readers are men and women, gay and straight, older and younger.

What do you hope that people feel when reading Majesty?

I hope people will have fun with Majesty. I hope that they’ll connect with the characters, enjoy all the plot twists, and keep on turning the pages to find out what happens next. It’s a suspenseful, mysterious, thriller of a series, and I hope that people welcome it into their lives in the same way that they’ve embraced Boystown.

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Artists

Beach Boys in the Buff

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Antonio En La Playa by Marc DeBauch (image supplied)
Antonio En La Playa by Marc DeBauch (image supplied)

I caught up with artist Marc DeBauch to look at his series of work titled Beach Boys.

When did you discover and start to explore your passion for art?

I started drawing and painting when I was three years old. Before I was five, I remember creating a crayon drawing of the Sinking of the Titanic on the rough plaster of the living-room wall of my parents’ house. It was impossible to remove — my parents weren’t happy with me, but after that they provided me with enough art materials to pursue my creative interests without destroying their home.

Lonnel on the Beach by Marc DeBauch (image supplied)

When did you start specialising in painting naked men and creating erotic art?

It was 36 years ago when I started painting male nudes and selling them in a local gay book store. Then, in 1995, I entered two paintings in the Tom of Finland Foundation’s Emerging Erotic Artists Contest. I was won first place, which opened the door for my art career, as I was immediately approached by galleries and magazines that wanted to feature my art.

This gave me the confidence and notoriety to exhibit and sell my work at erotic art fairs and gay events. At that time, the internet was just emerging, so my friend Andrew created a website for me, which was a fantastic tool to get my art out to people around the world.

Aussie Boy by Marc DeBauch (image supplied)

You’ve written that Tom of Finland is one of the major influences on your work — when did you first encounter the work of Tom of Finland?

I remember seeing Tom of Finland’s art in a porno magazine my friend had in high school. I was just amazed at the sexual tension, outrageous anatomy, and attention to detail in Tom’s art.

This was back in the early 1970s, so gay porn was just emerging legally in magazines and films. At the time, I wasn’t talented enough to draw the human figure accurately. But, I was fascinated enough to want to try. My sister’s boyfriend was a photographer, and he gave me his dark room equipment — back then you actually had to develop film, as there were no digital cameras.

I talked a friend into posing naked for me while jacking off, and I developed the film and made some prints. I was 14 years old, photographing another 14-year-old boy. It was very exciting creating my own porn! Unfortunately, my dad — being supportive of my art — wanted to see the photos, and of course I couldn’t show him. Not only did he not approve of gays, he didn’t want his son to be gay. He would have probably hit me if he knew I was a homosexual creating gay porn! So, I destroyed the photos almost in front of him, while saying — “The photos didn’t turn out and I would show him better work at another time.”

I was scared and freaked out. I knew I was self-censoring. But I also realised that if I was going to create erotic art that I would have to do it in secret. When Tom of Finland began drawing naked men, he also had to make his art in secret. I think most erotic artists learn to be very careful about choosing the right audience to exhibit their work to.

Trevor on the Beach by Marc DeBauch (image supplied)

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from people I know. I’ve been fortunate to see and meet many beautiful men in my life. Capturing their beauty and illustrating them in a unique way, is my goal.

What’s your creative process?

My creative process is different every time I paint. Sometimes an idea for a painting just pops in my head and I try to find model to pose for a photo to match my vision — that’s often the easiest route.

I rarely work from a live model. My paintings take so long to create — I often work all night on a painting — so, finding a model to sit for that long of a period and whenever I want them, is impossible. I use the photos of my models as reference.

Often, I look through hundreds of images and piece things together in a collage. It’s more like a jigsaw puzzle — lots of pieces missing, and my mind fills in those missing pieces with an arm from this model, the chest from another, the dick from another, the face from another, and so on, until I have the entire figure. But then I have to decide how the light and setting will pull all of those puzzle pieces together.

I have dozens of photos that are my references for every detail of plants, animals, rocks, furnishings. I sort through a constant mess of photos — gradually eliminating those references as my brain digests the information and my brush puts it on the canvas or paper.

The paintings that form the Beach Boys series are beautiful — what are some of the challenges in creating beach scenes like this?

Trying to find a balance between the setting and the model is always a challenge. I don’t want the model to overpower the beach, or the beach to feel more important than the model. I want my paintings to have a natural feeling, like you could be at the beach with my models.

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Who are the men featured in the paintings of the Beach Boys series?

The men in my Beach Boy series are mostly friends that have modelled for me. Sometimes I find a photograph of a model that someone else has taken, that inspires me to use it as a reference pose to work from, then I find one of the photos of a beach that I’ve visited and I try to recreate a similar pose in a drawing that will eventually become a painting.

What do you hope that people feel when they look at your work?

I don’t want to just give the viewer of my art an erection, I want them to feel like they’re part of the painting, that they want to invite the men in my paintings into their homes, their beds, their dungeon, their car, their locker room, or the bushes for a hot fuck, butt licking, cock sucking, ass spanking good time.

I hope to excite the viewer visually, emotionally as well as spiritually. It’s my goal as an artist and sexually active gay man to paint erotica that continually challenges the views of people who oppose sexual freedom. If my paintings assist the viewer in discovering where they are in the spectrum of human sexuality, then my aim is reaching its target.

Dive into the world of Marc DeBauch

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After the Swim by Marc DeBauch (image supplied)

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