Always with straight men there’s a balance between power and desire. Always, this is more serious than it is for gay men. Straight men can know that they are beautiful and desirable, but first they require that you acknowledge their strength, their power. Alexander is a man of immense physical and psychological strength. If I were to choose a single word to describe him it would be ‘formidable’.
I started by focusing on his beautiful tattoos.
He knew, I’m sure, what I was doing when I knelt for this shot. I asked about the design of the tattoo. He said “It’s from a piece by Banksy.” I asked who sees this tattoo, mentioning that it’s not in a part of his body that’s available for the public to see. “Very few people see it,” he responded. His voice is deep, quiet, serious, calm and steady.
“Tell me about your parents,” I said, taking him by the hips and turning him around. His ass is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. You may have noticed that a lot of the men I shoot have their hands in this position: this is something straight men nearly always do automatically. I think it must have something to do with balancing their vulnerability as I kneel and worship their ass.
He comes from a military family. His father is German; his mother from the Philippines. His grandfather and great-grandfather were both in the German military.
I won’t say things relaxed at this point. They never quite completely relaxed. But we’d come to a pleasant mutual understanding. I had him sit and told him I wanted a feminine pose. I said it to see how he’d react. He didn’t react. He just leaned over a bit and sat like this, looking down demurely.
The power of the young straight man is like stone; the desire of the photographer is like water. It’s a matter of being strong but gentle, moving where one can, seeing what is allowed and continuing. After the “feminine” pose, I crouched between his legs, lifted his right foot, placing it on the black box. At this point I asked what he does. “I fight,” he said. He’s a martial artist, a serious one.
The shoot wasn’t tense, exactly, but it was exhausting. I don’t know why he came to me to be photographed, but it felt very much as though he had gifted me with an intimate glimpse of himself, access to something very rare. The photographs don’t come close to doing him justice. His charisma and beauty were extraordinary. I was humbled by the experience.
– PAUL MORRIS