Prior to being saddled down with a full time job I traveled extensively. Not always great distances, but always on the road. Most of my destinations were on the East Coast, many, but not all, could be reached in a car. Maine down to Florida and provinces from Ontario over to Newfoundland in Canada. The lure of west however, particularly California, has remained a dream, a persistent aspiration that nudges me from time to time.
California is one of the most documented, photographed, written about and discussed places in the world. It also manages however, to remain one of the most elusive. Hollywood has provided an extensive history, but in some ways, that has more muddled than cleared up the mystery. I think one of the reasons is that California is not just a place, but a spiritual bedrock. The junction that links the dreamer to the dream. No mater where in the world you live, California is one of those places, we believe can literally or metaphorically be the gate-way to our destiny. That is a lot to live up to....and one of the reasons California is not a just a dream maker but a heart breaker.
When I think of the work of California photographer Tom Silk, I cannot help but connect with artist with the magical, yet elusive nature of the location. I have wanted to feature Tom's work several times over the years, but it wasn't until last month that things beautifully came together. Tom shoots incredible young men or course, many of whom arrive in the California, often for the first time, as part of a journey toward their own dreams. Tom not only captures faces and bodies, but also their souls. Maybe primarily known for artistic body shots, Silk is also a masterful portraiture. I love Tom's portraits, and in his captures you can't help but feel the dreams and passions within the eyes of his subjects.
Tom believes it is the flaws, not the perfections, that define beauty. (a quote he borrowed model, Ricky Riot.) You can see this philosophy synthesized within Tom's images as well in the choice of models he chooses to shoot. You can also see, in addition to his subjects soul, a bit of the artists within the work. Living and working in California, Tom Silk is also positioned to assist new and inexperienced models in moving closer towards their goals. It is also not a coincidence that in addition to the faces and bodies he captures, Silk weaves so much of the California landscape within his work.
Tom shoots to a large extent in studio, incorporating aspects of his models personality within the work. He also however, routinely takes his subjects outside, often to explore and experience some of California's most iconic locations. From some of the States endless beaches to one of Tom's favorite places to shoot, California's Joshua Tree National Park. In some way, Joshua Tree's rich history, along with it's open spaces, deserts, foliage and rock formations is both the perfect fit and setting, and as well, the perfect symbol to the goals and dreams his images represent.
20 year old Sean was first featured on FH last fall. Soon after, he traveled West as part of his own dream fulfillment. I love that Tom not only captured the fresh and youthful sides to Sean's personality, but also the maturity and determination to reach his goals. I will be sharing Tom's studio with Sean next week, but wanted to start with their location work, as well as a few unedited and fun, behind the scenes shots of Sean getting ready for his close-ups.
Thanks to some of my friends and many readers of FH, I am now officially over my previously held prejudices surrounding old movies, black and white films in particular. I cannot believe the times I wasted ignoring some of the most incredible films, and actors, I have been enjoying the last couple of years. Given my love of classic Circus films the highlight of TCM's January salute to Joan Crawford was last weeks airing of 1967's Berserk.
Ty with Diana Dors
Monica Rivers is the owner and ringmaster of a traveling circus, and she'll stop at nothing to draw bigger audiences. When a series of mysterious murders begins to occur and some of her performers die gruesomely, her profits soar!
Sounds good doesn't it? With Joan Crawford as Monica and my introduction to actor Ty Hardin as the handsome and muscular young man Monica hires to save the show, I was all in. Berserk, which also featured Diana Dors and Michael Gough, certainly wasn't the best Crawford film TCM aired during January, but it also wasn't her worst. The film earned points for it's title alone.
I hadn't heard of Ty Hardin before (so close to a great porn name) but I certainly ran him through the regular search engines after the viewing. Crawford was the movie's star, and Ty was there to provide the younger eye candy. Quite a sharp contrast to today when it is women who usually provide the eye candy for the older male stars. Ty seems a clear predecessor to male himbos of today such as Ashton Kutcher, Taylor Lautner and Matthew McConaughey before his career transformation. In the film to look pretty, take their shirts off and stand back and let the other actors worry about emoting.
It is not that Ty, who is still alive and kicking living in New York, was not a good actor, it was more his face, blonde hair and hard body were geared towards female fans at that time and felt enough to satisfy audiences of his films. You only need to check out his wardrobe (see below) in 1962's The Chapman Report to know what I mean.
Sadly my goggling also turned up some questionable work in the 70's with a fanatical right winged group, but given the actor was born in the 30's, raised in Texas and served in the Korean war, I will cut him some slack. That was also almost 40 years ago, so I will simply hope he has evolved and continue to seek out films where his amazing chest is on display.