Doin’ it for themselves

A six-pack of artsy, sexy, web-savvy boys

Nobody can tell ya,

There’s only one song worth singing,

They may try and sell ya,

’Cause it hangs them up,

To see someone like you,

But you gotta make your
own kind of music.

Sing your own special song,

Make your own kind of music,

Even if nobody else sings along

Those perfectly inspiring words (from the 1969 pop classic sung by Mama Cass) still hold true for many 20-something art boys. In the last few years, with the help of Tumblr blogs, Facebook groups, YouTube, SoundCloud, workouts at the gym or just a fierce stance in six-inch heels, a few fellows have captured the hearts and imaginations of many but have yet to hit the mainstream. They’re not going away anytime soon because you don’t know them yet.

A different breed of superstar, these gay boys are not packing auditoriums and rolling in dough. They’re accumulating “likes” on Facebook, giving away their music, posing naked for photographer friends and selling their creations on Etsy. It’s as if there are mini explosions, tiny little Warhol Factory–type environments, popping up in forever-queer havens like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Boys moving back and forth through these cities with songs and art in their hearts and hard dicks in their brightly coloured American Apparel undies.

Most importantly, they have lots of talent to throw around.

I’ve had my Sissydude blog for almost five years and have seen (through trolling Tumblr, mostly) some of these boys evolve from photographers’ muses to interesting artists.

I distinctly remember a few years back, when browsing through New York photographer Walt Cessna’s extensive Tumblr archive, being totally smitten by two of the models, Rica Shay and Kyle Kupres.

Shay is a cute, thin boy with sad, lovely eyes and a very, very nice bum. He pops up here and there looking fresh and young with a jaunty baseball cap on his head. In the last few years, he’s become quite the hip-hop performer. He has a lot of attitude but always with a friendly wink. His newest tune is called “Damn You Nasty,” and it’s his best to date. Check it out on SoundCloud. It’s really, really good.


Kupres is a classical violinist who is known for his performance-artist gender-fucks, avant-garde costumes and beautiful icy-blue eyes. He’s pretty stunning but also a whole bunch of fun. Have you ever heard his violin versions of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” or “Love To Love You Baby”? Pretty fucking amazing (look for them on his SoundCloud).

He recently moved from New York to LA. How Patsy Gallant is that!

LA seems to have sparked the designer in him, and he’s just started a company called Slämenskräm; the Voltaar Swim Brief is described as a bathing suit that “will make you burp rainbows it’s so fucking cool. Shit is radioactive.” (Check it out on Etsy.)

Ab Soto also inhabits a world all his own. It’s a world full of colour and zany pattern mixing with zillions of pop-culture references so lovingly thrown your way it never hurts. Super-sexy Soto is always clad in gigantic T-shirts, his eyebrows painted bright 1980s blue, the look topped off with a yellow construction-paper crown. What’s not to love?

His songs and videos are a joy to behold, but my favourite has to be “Keep It Movin’.” Soto always has a mix of stylin’ friends at his side dancing and poppin’ like nobody’s business, and this video shows off this magic the best. All shapes, colours, sexes and sizes … the true world. “Banjee Power” indeed!

For a few art boys, jerking off on camera — or actually starring in major studio porn videos — is also an expression of who they are. Showing off your hairy asshole or getting gangbanged by a bunch of spray-tanned twinks is no longer something to be kept a secret. It’s a celebration, an exploration, part of the journey. Like Madonna’s Sex book, it’s a total “Fuck yeah!” And it pays for art supplies.

There are also a few pornstars who are doing things a tad more quirky and artistic than most. Like the adorable and sexy Colby Keller and Dale Cooper.

These two pals defy the artsy-boy ethic and live in the city of Baltimore. Maybe John Waters’s beloved home has rubbed off on them because they really are interesting creatures.

Cooper kills me. First off, on his website Dale Does Porn, he shares the smart writing he has done for Huffington Post; his goofy, childlike drawings; and the origin of his tattoos (hint: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar). When he’s on Randy Blue live chat he can be seen naked, knitting a scarf or munching on a cupcake that looks like a rosebud (the fisted kind). To me, it’s more clever and revealing than anything Marina Abramovi has ever done.

Okay, seriously … the picture of him lying naked on his bed, erect dick in hand, reading Roland Barthes — I don’t see Pierre Fitch or Cody Cummings doing that kinda shit.

Now Keller is a total sweetheart. He (with help from partner Karl Marxxx) has an awesome blog called Big Shoe Diaries where he shares his love of art, road-trip photos and his video readings of Eight Days a Week, a novel by Larry Duplechan (he’s on chapter 63).

I had a chance to meet Keller when he visited Toronto during Pride. I’d call him a gentle giant, but I’m taller than him, so I don’t think I can. He really does have a magic presence — good vibes all around. So what did he do in our fair city, besides manning his spanking booth at Fit Primpin’? He went gallery hopping! How cute is that? He looked at art.

He also went to Hanlan’s, where I did a total Sandra Dee/Gidget to his Big Kahuna and like a fool — in a vintage straw sun hat, no less — ran after him in the sand. “Colby, Colby,” I yelled. I invited him to join a group of my drunken, MDMA-happy friends. After offering him a tequila raspberry (don’t ask) and a warm canned cider, he ventured off to a picnic table to be alone with a good book. That’s how he rolls.

My last artist harks back to the days of Cecil Beaton or, say, Guglielmo Plüschow. Felix d’Eon is such a beautiful painter. His romantic images of boys embracing, fucking and kissing are extraordinarily rich. He lives in Mexico City and seems to have an endless parade of boys coming to visit his space, taking off their clothes and casually having sex so he can either photograph them for future paintings or paint them on the spot.

His subjects may be here and now, but in the paintings they turn into Boy Scouts, mermen, 1920s schoolboys, Thai princes, Victorian dandies or even World War One soldiers — soft, dreamy ink-and-watercolour works that are never twee. In a way they’re just as explicit as Tom of Finland. His subjects embrace the world one kiss at a time, and breathtakingly so.

This is just a sample of the young art boys that I find the most out of the ordinary, the ones who have been on my radar for a few years now. I’ll have to leave Big Dipper, Nicky Da B and the exotic perfection that is Le1f for another time. Check them out if you have a chance. I leave you with this from another Mama Cass ditty, called “Different”:

I had the power that set me apart,

I learnt to take it and use it to make it,

It’s not so bad to be different,

To do your own thing and do it with heart,

I’d rather be different than be the same.

Fuck yeah, Mama Cass!

Read More About:
Culture, Canada, Toronto, Arts

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