- Tom- Tom
In 2003 when I was living in San Francisco, a fellow photographer, Howard Roffman told me that he’d shot an amazingly beautiful young man. He thought Joaquin and I should meet. We did and the resulting ON THE COUCH story at the site is both tender and revealing as Joaquin opened his heart to me. It started with his telling me that he’d initially agreed to shoot with Howard, not because he thought he was beautiful – but because he thought he was ugly. Hard to believe his self-image could be so far from what I saw.
I recalled a photo that I loved – not knowing at the time it was a photo Howard had taken of Joaquin. In that image I saw one of the most beautiful, graceful, elegant – in short perfect – male bodies I could imagine. After our shoot, I made a picture of that photo with one I’d taken of Joaquin’s foot extended in the tension of near orgasm. Together – they joined my memory of an idealized man with a present erotic detail I found profoundly sexy.
I made my own version of Howard’s picture in my office doorway. Joaquin had been wearing baggy khaki trousers and black dress socks. The clothes said a lot about his style. Seeing them on the floor around his ankles spoke to his willingness to abandon other people’s sense of propriety.
I saw Joaquin as someone so beautiful that it was not possible to make a bad picture of him. It took me many months to publish the first essay I did with Joaquin. He came to think that I’d decided he didn’t measure up. But when he saw the story go up and read what I’d said, he saw his negative self-image was an unreal fear. His quest to find himself and his admission of his insecurities more became more poignant. This shoot represents what I intend. I love to give men a better – more real – look at themselves. The text in his story as published comes from his own words. He appears in this portrait to have a full appreciation of himself. If I played a part in his recognition of that, I’m honored.
I found Joaquin aesthetically and erotically wonderful in every detail of himself. What does art show us? Can it cause us to feel and dream about love?