Entertainment » Books

Macho-Man Photographer Michael Alago in Ptwn

by Steve Weinstein
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Jul 22, 2011
Macho-Man Photographer Michael Alago in Ptwn

Hanging proudly on my bedroom wall is a photograph of a man, a huge man, his muscular butt like two basketballs staring the viewer in the face. This photograph was taken by Michael Alago, and, like everything he shoots, it's intensely erotic and artistic.

I've been following this photographer's career since he first began showing his work in 2003. With Brutal Truth, he reaches a pinnacle. This may well be the single best male erotic photo book I've ever seen -- and I've seen most of them.

At 260 pages, it's heavy in every sense of the word. The men vary widely in body and facial hair, ages and amount of clothing worn (or not). What they share is Alago's ability to draw out their sexuality and sexiness.

You can meet Michael -- a nice guy and quite an eyeful himself -- at Full Kit Gear, 192 Commerce St., in Provincetown, on Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. This kinky store is the perfect setting for Michael's edgy but always sexy photographs.

Bringing an Underworld to Light

Bringing an Underworld to Light

Alago specializes in the hyper masculinity of gay urban subcultures. His photos record, reflect and remark on the leather scene, fetishes, the gym, dive bars and what goes on in dark alleys.

All of the men do share one thing: They’re all magnificent, real hotties. Muscular, worked out, beefy, they take the gym bunny image and make sure it’s all male.

All Ages

All Ages

One of the most refreshing things about Alago’s book is that isn’t full of airbrushed, hairless twinks. There are some hairless guys -- my personal favorite photo is of a smooth blond beauty juxtaposed opposite a classical statue, which only emphasizes his perfect physique.

There are photos of guys who have seen the other side of 40, which is refreshing in a book like this. One of the hottest men is a heavily tattooed silver daddy. OK, so the guy hasn’t seen a simple carb since 2006 -- he’s hot!

There are men with guns, smoking cigarettes, licking themselves, flipping the viewer the bird. It’s brutal, all right. It also all has the ring of authenticity, thanks to Alago’s ability to pose the model and shoot him at his most unguarded moment.

Jock Straps & What’s Underneath

Jock Straps & What’s Underneath

Due to the editorial policies of this website, I can’t show you the full photograph. The man is in an SUV, he’s pulling on his jock strap, and straining out of it is ... well, I’ll just say it’s bigger than a pencil and smaller (slightly) than a cucumber.

If there’s a favored article of clothing in this collection, it’s the jock. That few square inches of material that so beautifully frames the butt and indicates the treasure barely hidden is one of Alago’s favorite props.

And, yes, there’s plenty of full-front nudity here, and many of them are sporting full woodies. While erotic, it’s never salacious.

Body Hair!

Body Hair!

Many of the guys in this book not only sport body hair, but a lot of it! Yes, there are some manscaped bodies. But as this stud shows, there are some who are unabashedly harry.

Nearly all of the settings are urban, many around Alago’s home base of New York City. But there are some that are in the country. In one series, a guy poses among giant lilies.

There are also lots and lots of tattoos. Sometimes, Alago only shoots a part of the body, such as a heavily tattoed hand.

For lovers of gay erotica, this is the one must-have book. This is the one guaranteed to be picked up from your coffee table by your friends. Just make sure they don’t walk away with it!

Michael Alago will be signing books on Saturday, April 9, in Providence, R.I., at the Yard at the Homestead, 124 Snow St.

He will be signing books on Tuesday, April 26, at the Leslie Lohman Gallery, 26 Wooster St. in New York City.

Brutal Truth
260 pages, full color, hardcover
Published by Bruno Gmünder

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).


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