Paul’s Photos || ANONYMOUS


He was absolutely firm about not having his face shown.  I tried to talk him out of this condition—he’s what you’d call brutally handsome and I longed to record his face, his head, his profile. But the answer was always “No.”

So I had Pony run down the street and buy a lab coat and a tape measure.  The anonymity of man without a face led me to pretend we were using him as a scientific subject, as though measurements would substitute for identity.

I can tell you everything I know about him: he’s 19, comes from a very rough neighborhood.  He’s a part-time student at San Francisco City College.  He’s straight and has never been photographed before.

Continuing with the faux-scientific play, I had Pony point to various parts of the young man’s body, as if for a fantasy handbook for artists or anatomists.

Pony kept trying to actually measure things, but I insisted that he use the tape measure in a way that made no sense.  Honestly, I was only interested in seeing how the tape draped along this beautiful body.  I realized late in the shoot that as a child I’d found a book of “anatomy for artists”.  I think unconsciously I’ve wanted to do photos like this for years.  The absurdity of attempting to quantify or measure male beauty.


The young man would hardly speak during the shoot.  I finally realized something and said “You’re being very brave, doing this.” He nodded seriously and said “Thank you, this is really scary.”  Again, I was hit by how generous men are: they will give you everything they can, going as far as their nerve will take them.  Case in point: a beautiful 19-year-old man will stand quietly while two idiots play-act around him and photograph the process.  I feel profound gratitude for the grace of all men. – Paul Morris


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