- Tom- Tom
What does the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and the Liberation of the Male Ass have in common? Everything. When I was coming out in 1969, a hugely popular song from Hair celebrated the dawn of a new age. Certainly for me, the paradigm began to shift about that time. I was a young man defined by my social status (I was about to graduate law school and join the establishment’s inner sanctum) when I discovered another side of myself – the queer me who wore skin tight bell bottoms, smoked pot and danced sweaty nights away with my fellow travelers.
The common agreement among people who study astrological ages is that the epic change that comes every two thousand years or so is sort of happening about now. I agree. The dawn of the Age of Aquarius signals a shift to a more spiritual age. We free ourselves of old patterns, like male domination and misogyny for a more integrated, gentle, nurturing self. In short, we men come to terms with our inner “female”. And women, Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter aside, recognize the value to themselves of men who have assholes rather than are assholes.
Personally, I found myself attracted to the vulnerability that comes with a gay man’s ass somewhat elevated. As a result, my work seeks to express this beauty in new ways. Straight men find this threatening. When the picture above was displayed at a show of my ON THE COUCH pictures in a life-sized print, two straight couples came to the gallery. The husbands stood outside, refusing to come in. The wives spent a fair amount of time looking at everything. My dealer, Jerry Miller, approached the women after a while and asked if they had any questions. One of the women said, “Actually, I was looking for something for the dinning room.” Jerry pointed to this picture and said, “Well, we have this.” The woman thought a moment and said, “ Ah – the color is wrong.”
Early in my work, I followed the convention that most artists who depicted the male nude followed. The ass was not something that included a sphincter. Then one day, I took this picture and thought, “OMG – I never would have thought to publish a picture this graphic. But this one is so formally gorgeous, it demands to be seen.” As a result, it broke barriers for me.
One night at a dinner party in the Hollywood Hills, I was showing a portfolio of my new work to the guests, two of whom were curators at the J. Paul Getty museum. As they looked through the pictures they stopped at a number and said, “When have we seen a man represented like this in art history? Not in the 14th or 15th centuries. Not in the 16th, 17th or 18th or 19th. No. We had to wait for Tom Bianchi to show us this.”
I knew then, that when informed eyes saw and appreciated these pictures, I was making art that expanded our vision and would find a respected place in the history of the evolution of human consciousness. That may seem a rather bold boast, but I think the quality of the image and idea embodied in it suggests it is not immodest.
The idea for this picture came from Mark, one of the subjects. He said that he and a lover played with a double-headed dildo ass to ass and suggested that we try the position. When Mark and Sean backed into one another, I asked David to join the picture. I saw David as peering into a magical space, a tunnel to infinite pleasure.
I believe this sincerely. When men stop seeing the ass as a focus for torture, humiliation and reckless domination, they will enter the Age of Aquarius. I have many friends of both sexes who are there now. We wait impatiently for others to join us. I think that is happening in gathering force now. Witness the politics of this age as the old guard looses the power they have so selfishly misused and more and more of us see the value in more nurturing ways of being.