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Arts & Culture

The allure of Naked Boys Reading

Naked Boys Reading (image supplied)

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I caught up with R. Justin Hunt from Naked Boys Reading to talk literature, literacy, and liberation.

The next Naked Boys Reading event in London is focusing on the theme of Nakedness. It seems an obvious choice — have you been resisting the tautology or just waiting for the right time to unleash it?

We did an event in Brighton that focused on ‘nudes’ in art and literature, but this is the first time that we’ve taken on the them in London. In working with our Curator, Ernesto — lovingly referred to as the Naked Poet — it made sense to finally get to grips with our own nakedness. When better than in the summer heat to get really freakin’ naked?

How many naked boys will be reading about nakedness at the July event?

We usually have four to five readers at each of our regular event at Miranda Bar at Ace Hotel. You can expect at least four nudies reading.

How do you cast the men that appear in events such as these?

This year we’ve launched Naked Boys Reading: Auditions — the next event is on 12 August at the Yard.

We don’t ‘officially’ audition readers, as we feel it’s up to the reader to decide if they consider themselves a boy or not and if they want to get naked and read aloud.

Readers submit interest through our website and we invite them to read at events across the year. The auditions allow us to get more interested new readers in at once, and see if they enjoy the event as much as we do. If so, we invite them back. We aim to have one to two new readers at each regular event.

Is there a sexual, Clothed-Man-Naked-Man kind of power dynamic in an event where the audience is clothed but the performers are not?

There’s always a dynamic of power when someone gets up in front of others to perform in any way. Adding nudity to that draws attention to the fleshy realities that we often forget. It might heighten certain aspects that clothed performance doesn’t, but it also might obscure things as well. It’s certainly a good marketing hook.

Is there power in nakedness?

Nudity is still taboo. We’ve been kicked off Facebook recently, and had our events up against councils who give producing venues funding — certain corporate bodies still find live nudity to be inherently sexual.

While nudity may or may not be sexy, it changes the reception for the bodies in the audience who are witnessing the event. Male nudity is still highly shunned — a fear of the unclothed ‘male genital’ is still sacrosanct.

We aim to accept all male-identifying bodies who wish to unclothe texts.

What next for the NBR team?

We currently regularly have events in Ottawa, Toronto, and Berlin. We’ll also be also debuting in Glasgow and Folksetone in August 2018. If you want an NBR event in your town, get in touch with us!

In the months ahead, we’ll be doing some more ‘NBR Presents’ events that use some of the same tropes — nude bodies, text — but in different configurations and durations as we enter of seventh year of production. We’ll also be publishing our second anthology in Autumn 2018. Our first anthology is currently available — they make great holiday gifts!

Naked Boys Reading will be on in London on Thursday 26 July 2018

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Haydn at the hotel sessions by @vanekphotography

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Haydn at @miranda_ldn by @vanekphotography

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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.

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After the Swim by Marc DeBauch (image supplied)

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