PAUL’S PHOTOS || Opera Man

As he undressed, I said “Hold it.”  He was exhausted after a full day’s work at the SF opera house.  They were preparing for the season opening, probably the biggest social event of the year in San Francisco. I said “Take almost everything off.”  He left one sock on.

His intelligence was obvious from the start.  Even though he was tired, he kept up with my banter, exchanged jokes with me.  I asked what he was reading at home.  He said “Barbara Ehrenreich’s ‘Dancing in the Streets: a History of Collective Joy.'”

He’s gay. I asked if he’s very sexual in his everyday life. “Yes, very. Probably too much.” I asked if he was in love. “With too many people right now.” I asked if he fell in love easily. “Approach me and I’ll fall in love,” he responded.


He laughed often and easily.  But he was perfectly serious about the shoot, making sure that I got what I wanted.  If I left him alone or ignored him he would stand quiet and attentive.

He noticed one of the toy frogs.  I handed it to him and said “Do something with this.”  He put it on the ground and crouched over it.


He recognized boundaries, but he also perfectly understood playfulness.  I was sitting in front of him when he reached out to help me get a better shot of him.


I’ll admit it: he would often be in a perfect pose and I would move him a bit, just to have the chance to touch him, to feel the warmth and friendliness that he embodied.

He’s complex, thinks about serious things, embraces life—and death. He is concerned about art, community, joy and love. This is what I think of when I dream of the possibilities for gay men in my city.


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