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It's a classic (9) -- Fred with Tires

(Troy Schooneman writes:)

The image caused a sensation when it was first published and launched Ritts' career.  Posters of the image adorned the walls of countless teenage bedrooms and hip cafes around the world. It is as iconic today as it was then, perhaps ever more so.  Countless photographers have attempted to replicate this image.  All have failed.  Herb Ritts was a once in a generation talent. Here is what Marcus Bunyan wrote about the image in. “Historical Pressings,” from Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male (Ph.D. thesis) 2001:

“Fred with Tires became the archetypal photograph of the male body in the 1980s and made the world-wide reputation of its commercial photographer, Herb Ritts. Gay men flocked to buy it, myself included. I was drawn by the powerful, perfectly sculpted body, the butchness of his job, the dirty trousers, the boots and the body placed within a social context. At the time I realised that the image of this man was a constructed fantasy, ie. not the ‘real’ thing, and this feeling of having been deceived has grown ever since. His hair is teased up and beautifully styled, the grease is applied to his body just so, his body twisted to just the right degree to accentuate the muscles of the stomach and around the pelvis. You can just imagine the stylist standing off camera ready to readjust the hair if necessary, the assistants with their reflectors playing more light onto the body. This/he is the seduction of a marketable homoeroticsm, the selling of an image as sex, almost camp in its overt appeal to gay archetypal stereotypes.
Herb Ritts, whether in his commercial work or in his personal images such as those of the gay bodybuilders Bob Paris and Rod Jackson, has helped increase the acceptance of the openly homoerotic photograph in a wider sphere but this has been possible only with an increased acceptance of homosexual visibility within the general population. Openly gay bodies such as that of Australian rugby league star Ian Roberts or American diver Greg Luganis can become heroes and role models to young gay men coming out of the closet for the first time, visible evidence that gay men are everywhere in every walk of life. This is fantastic because young gay men do need gay role models to look up to but the bodies they possess only conform to the one type, that of the muscular mesomorph and this reinforces the ideal of a traditional masculinity. Yes, the guy in the shower next to you might be a poofter, might be queer for heavens sake, but my God what a body he’s got!”

And while we are at it here's one of Fred's spinoffs that LustSpiel regulars know only too well, authored by the magic draftsman Stéphane Dupré:


  1. I've been a Herb Ritts fan for a long time. Thanks for showcasing this gem.


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