Welcome to the Pleasuredrome

Back in the early to mid nineties I used to visit Rios, “London’s Leading Naturist Health Spa”, maybe a couple of times a year. It was ten minutes walk from home and Mrs H. very occasionally would come along too although I think the third time was probably the last for her. The propensity of the male clientele (and 90% were male) to follow her wherever we went was too much and I certainly did not enjoy it.

If it felt a little seedy with the bar with the topless female staff then this was exacerbated by the little signs installed in the sauna cabins instructing men that there would be no tolerance of them playing with themselves. Those signs were not there at first but appeared on later visits. Were they there on my last visit? Then I had one guy come and sit inches from me in an otherwise empty warm pool with space for 20 others without saying anything but nudging my foot and then later another guy strode out of the same pool sporting a rather magnificent erection and not the least bothered about it.

In those days Rios did not describe itself as it does now as being “for liberated people aged 21+ where you can enjoy the company of likeminded adults” but with ‘private rooms’ upstairs it certainly catered for that clientele. I found it off putting that it was not clear why people who may or may not engage with me were there. There were undoubtedly ‘genuine naturists’ which is the basis on which I went but there all sorts of others including were men who were there with women who I think had been paid to accompany them and gay men who were looking for more than naturism.

I had difficulty in enjoying this place where for one group of people it means one thing and another group something else.

So as an experiment I went to Pleasuredome at Waterloo.

A gay sauna.

Why I should take this action to help me learn more about my self is difficult to pin down and maybe will be the subject of another blog, but go I did.

Initially I was surprised that just about all the men wore towels most of the time. But soon I found myself in what was probably a 12 man sauna cabin with benches either side and there one man sitting opposite me and another sitting a foot to my right. We were all naked and we were all masturbating openly.

I can’t remember how it started or finished in terms of who arrived first and left last but I do know that at least while I was there there was no physical contact. It was dark, but not that dark, and the lack of mutual touching may have had a lot to do with, at least on my part, a total aversion to making eye contact, but in this confined space with these two men I was very aroused and I knew the reason for my arousal was watching these two erect cocks being stroked while having two men watch me stroking my own.

What surprised me, and I remember the feeling clearly, was how I felt so relaxed there in that sauna. We were three fit men not hiding anything from each other, not communicating in any way other than through providing visual pleasure to each other, and I did not feel out of place.

I explored further. I enjoyed being observed fully aroused in the shower and I then walked the dark corridors. It was in an alcove in these corridors that I encountered what I can only describe as a pile up of bodies squeezed into this obscured area. I was curious at this first encounter with sauna sex but instinctively I was not wanting to make the physical contact required to find out what was going on.

In the steam room, smaller than the sauna and almost full, I encountered more action. I sat, pleasuring myself and observed.

And so it went on and it was after about two hours that I departed. I had barely made physical contact or had eye to eye interaction with any man in there. And I was probably one of the few not to have used the visit to reach orgasm.

I knew I would return, if not here then to try another gay sauna. That was Chariots in Shoreditch, much roomier with pseudo-Roman decor. I told Mrs H. about this new experience and how it was possible to visit such a place without getting hit on and how it was somehow less seedy than Rios. It even had a decent sized, really pleasant swimming pool.

I went back maybe five times in five years. Each time it became less enjoyable. The strange innocence with which I had thrown myself into Pleasuredrome became wariness of these men around me and self consciousness of my desired nakedness when others wore towels. I never craved the physical contact which others were there for and the (for me) delightfully erotic scenario in that first sauna cabin was never really repeated; I found myself wanting to leave after a short and shorter time.

All that was in the 90s. I have had two gay sauna experiences since in new venues, one not so good, but the last two years ago, when I somehow found confidence to take control on my own terms, was very enjoyable. However despite thinking at the time that I would be returning almost immediately I have not yet done so.

“Vintage”

Mrs H. has more than a passing interest in historical costume and because of this I find myself at various events aimed at those who enjoy music from and go further by adopting authentic dress from the last century – retro or vintage, whatever you choose to call it, but usually great style!

For 2011 Wayne Hemingway centred his Vintage festival in the Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.

Vintage festival in the Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.

2011 Vintage festival in the Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.

Vintage festival on London’s South Bank.

2011 Vintage festival in the Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.

Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.

Vintage festival on London’s South Bank.

Vintage style living room complete with David Essex vinyl.

2011 Vintage festival in the Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.

2011 Vintage festival in the Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.

For 2011 Wayne Hemingway centred his Vintage festival in the Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.

Reserving deck chairs in the picnic meadow, Vintage at Goodwood festival 2010

Vintage at Goodwood 2010

Couple at Vintage at Goodwood festival 2010

The funfair area at Vintage at Goodwood festival 2010

Actress playing actress at Vintage at Goodwood festival 2010

People resting at the fairground – Vintage at Goodwood 2010

Carousel at the Vintage at Goodwood festival 2010

Happy campers – Vintage at Goodwood 2010

Vintage at Goodwood 2010

Vintage at Goodwood 2010

Three actresses dressed as US Army women in uniform at Vintage at Goodwood 2010

Super sexy VW camper at the Vintage Car Boot Sale on London’s South Bank. Tri X Film in a Pentax MX with 50mm f1.4 lens. 

Vintage Car Boot Sale on London’s South Bank. Tri X Film in a Pentax MX with 50mm f1.4 lens. 

Vintage Car Boot Sale on London’s South Bank. Tri X Film in a Pentax MX with 50mm f1.4 lens. 

Partying at 2011  Vintage festival on London’s South Bank.

Daisy Lowe at the Vintage fashion show on London’s South Bank, 2011

Vintage South Bank.

Vintage festival South Bank, 2011

Vintage  South Bank.

Fashion show at Vintage at South Bank

Paul Donald Rae and Ralph Randell at Vintage at Southbank Centre 2011

A model for another

I’ve always wanted to have another photographer shoot me naked – I’ve participated in nude group shoots and many other naked activities but have never been asked by another to be their model. It is also true that I have never pushed myself forward in this respect even when given these opportunities. In the back of my mind I knew that it would have to be somebody who I identified with and who was a talented artist in their own right. When the opportunity came to be shot by fotografm (on flickr) I took it.

In June 2017 he was visiting the UK from Berlin to take in the London and Brighton Baked Bike Rides. I was participating in neither due to two VERY important party invitations but on the Monday, because I happened to be driving towards his next destination I offered him a lift and the opportunity to do some nudes in the Sussex landscape.  We also took the opportunity to take some shots at my house.

The apparent confidence in these images is because underneath it all we already knew enough about each other to know what we would like to shoot and where our boundaries might lie. As two photographers that deal with a wide range of nude self portraiture in our work including the artful erotic it was in fact almost business as usual, but with more flexible camera angles and an added creative mind!

 

The street in colour

I want to have a range of photography featured here, not just the nude which will stay as the focus of my main galleries. So here is the first little diversion into other subjects, some selected street photography – or photos taken in my street photography style – here all in colour rather than my more usual black & white.

Trafalgar Square

Tube travelator

Trafalgar Square

the london paper is no more – Regent Street

Hanging out in the Turbine Hall, Tate Modern

London Oxford Street Christmas lights 2010

Maastricht, Netherlands

The Joe Strummer Subway

Festival Hall, London

Banksy Kissing Policemen Graffitti – Prince Albert Pub, Brighton

Brighton beach scene

Castor & Pollux, Brighton promenade

Venice – scan of a negative from 1983

Cafe in Montmartre, Paris

Jardin des Tuilieries, Paris

Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Boulogne sur Mer, France

London South Bank

Cliffe Bonfire Society, Bonfire Night 2012, Lewes

Rue des Abbesses, Montmartre, Paris

Soho, London

Body acceptance and naked bike riding

In what I will with temerity describe as my art nude self portrait photography I have complete control over how I allow myself to be photographed. Some images are very much about body acceptance while in others I am able to turn myself into something that can appear quite different. Indeed in the latter case and in isolation many might wonder what possible body issues I could have.

The most significant statement of body acceptance that I make is through my participation in naked bike rides in my home town of Brighton. To be out there as a skinny, non-muscly and under-endowed male is a display of self confidence that I would not have been capable of when I was in my prime.

With all the cameras and this being my home town, there is some nervousness and to compound this it’s usually cool, 14C – 18C, with a breeze coming off the sea which in June is still cold. My variable manhood is always at its most modest in such circumstances and in many ways this is good for a scan of the thousands of images that finish up on the internet suggests that most participants, particularly the many young people taking part in the Brighton ride, have little physical reason to lack confidence in appearing naked.

It would be great if more men like me took part. But while we are under-represented it makes being out there ‘flying the flag’ more important. One object of riding for me is that the people in the crowds on those streets can see that they can more positive about their own bodies. Occasionally there is an unkind comment overheard but only once or twice on any ride – almost everyone is supportive.

Because of the nature of this blog I have dwelt on the most personal reasons for my participation. But importantly, I do the naked bike ride for other reasons too. In fact the only time you are ever likely to see me on a bike in Brighton is in the naked bike ride. I’m a very poor cyclist and would cycle in Brighton if more cycle lanes were in place. Less traffic, less SUVs, more public transport would ultimately mean a better future for the delicate planet on which we live. These are the more substantial reasons for riding and they can unite everyone participating.

At the start of the Brighton World Naked Bike Ride 2016

See – I can load a film camera! Photo by funkdooby on flickr. (2016)

2016 was cold on that seafront! Photo by bbana on flickr.

 

Riding a bike is rarely flattering! Photo by faye kinnit on flickr. (2016)

Striking a pose for fotografm (on flickr) – before the start of my first Brighton WNBR in 2013

 

At the start of the 2015 ride, still not warm enough to be fully naked – for me anyway! Photo by faye kinnit on flickr.

In the North Laine, 2013. The logo should have read….
Drive an SUV? “sigh…” but I had a change of mind at the last moment that reduced the impact.

Photo by funktionhouse on flickr which could be entitled “He’s just washing my back!” for I had been asked to remove the WNBR paint. This was the Hastings WNBR in 2015.

With my police escort in 2013 – photo by bare witness on flickr

The private exhibition

I have just completed my annual revision to “all a blur“, my most personal gallery. I have added new images from 2015 as well as adding some and cutting others from previous years. In doing this I think the collection is now stronger and I hope the rationale behind the images is clearer. However, in case of murk, I’m picking out three images to talk about here.

Firstly, I brought together some of my most provocative images from 2015 for this imaginary private exhibition, which may distract attention from the original image of a coy nude in the bathroom.

The 'prints' are image manipulations, the walls actually carry rather more modest images.
The private exhibition (2015)

Secondly, I had the courage to bring into the gallery some more images from the days of film. Flowers feature heavily, as does the penis, which makes a rather more flamboyant showing in the other photos than in this image from 1998.  Taken in my Kentish Town garden, whereas exhibitionists get excited about the possibility of being seen naked in public, I can assure you that I am quite the opposite! I am glad I came up with the title, which confronts certain people from my past, as well as my own insecurities.

In the garden in Kentish Town
In the garden in Kentish Town

Bully, for you (1998)

Thirdly, an up to date combination of two images reflecting how I constantly wrestle with myself on what to present on this website.

20150924-_dsf8404-2-2 A naturist tiff (2015)

On both of my websites, scottyh.com and here, I write about “my strongly held view that there is nothing offensive about any aspect of the human body, especially when presented in a way that makes an artistic statement or conveys its beauty”. It is because of these conceptual, some might say confusing, images that I recently added the italicised words.

I need to say, for those that do not know me, but maybe primarily for those that do, that in making this particular artistic statement I’m not afraid to construct some images which have very little to do with the way I really am. In this final image, the title is a clue, because although there seems to be a dispute and there is some erotic charge between the two men, they are not lovers. It is merely a provocative way of presenting myself and my internal arguments over content, and right now it appears that he who is not afraid of the erotic is the more confident presence.

Which leads us back to the first image, my private exhibition of my private masculinity, which includes the lovers’ tiff photo but also two other images that you may well never get to see otherwise exhibited, carefully cloned into the frames. The ‘prints’ are image manipulations, the walls actually carry rather more modest images. The cloned figures seem to me a world apart, but are as real a representation of me as the figure with the flowers in the garden.

Some years on from the jitters in that garden, it will surprise some that I still get a little nervous when taking my clothes off in public, say on one of my World Naked Bike Ride appearances.  The Naked Bike Ride is an event that is partly about demonstrating body confidence so it’s vital that those like me who have had issues participate. With the knowledge that I have now, that I am as much a man as those who teased me many years ago, I can participate with confidence, even if the bike wobbles. So bullies, I ride for you!

Choosing a path

This is a blog about an idea which didn’t really work!

I have a new project, Open Access and I shall shortly have to write more about it. I had the idea in my head about 18 months ago when I created this image…

This was intended as part of a project called "Open Access" http://www.allablur.co.uk/#/open-access/, but this was a part which did not quite go as planned as I discovered that hooking a bulb release to my Pentax 645 in such circumstances was fraught with difficulty. Unfortunately the slightest vibration in the cable set off the shutter and with the Pentax 645 being equipped with motorised advance 14 of the available 15 shots on the roll were expended while I walked towards the place where I stand here, me out of shot in all of them! There was one frame left and, tipped off about the sensitivity I figured out how not to waste it. I included the release cable to help tell the story and that one shot captured this slightly stressed expression. The location is the intersection of footpaths just off the South Downs Way footpath near Plumpton.

While this was intended as part of my project, this was a part which did not quite go as planned as I discovered that hooking a bulb release to my Pentax 645 in such circumstances was fraught with difficulty. Unfortunately the slightest vibration in the cable set off the shutter and with the Pentax 645 being equipped with motorised advance 14 of the available 15 shots on the roll were expended while I walked towards the place where I stand here, me out of shot in all of them! There was one frame left and, tipped off about the sensitivity I figured out how not to waste it. I included the release cable to help tell the story and that one shot captured this slightly stressed expression. The location is the intersection of footpaths just off the South Downs Way footpath near Plumpton.

This was part of a shoot which did not quite go as planned as I discovered that hooking a bulb release to my Pentax 645 in such circumstances was fraught with difficulty. Unfortunately the slightest vibration in the cable set off the shutter and, with the Pentax 645 being equipped with motorised advance, 14 of the available 15 shots on the roll were expended while I walked towards the place where I stand here, me out of shot in all of them! There was one frame left and, tipped off about the sensitivity I figured out how not to waste it. I included the release cable to help tell the story and that one shot captured this slightly stressed expression.

The film has languished in the camera since that day and was only developed this week. A quick look at the Open Access link will reveal how my thinking on that project has evolved over that time. There is the naked human, but he is smaller in the image; there is a timer involved, but is is not a cable; of course there is a camera, but it is not necessarily a film camera; and there are areas of light and shade, but they are in colour.

The Access Land location is at the intersection of footpaths just off the South Downs Way near Plumpton, East Sussex.

The return of allablur…

I’ve had a go of trying to post as my real self for several months now, posting nudes to my flickr account, my mainstream website, G+ and Instagram or similar. But it’s awkward – I think too hard about who might see what and it definitely cramps my style.

So allablur.co.uk is back. Not that it’s ever gone anywhere, but fitting the content that slips so easily in here into my mainstream site alongside all those stock photos and the commercial art simply does not work. I should have known it before I set off in that direction, but live and learn.

The other thing I have learnt is that I do not have to post any of my professional work or more commercial art here. I don’t have to prove my ability in those very different conditions – it’s a world away from my artistic vision and it detracts, so it’s gone.

What I now have is a newly designed site with space for the first time to place words besides images, and what is more all content is also presented on the mobile site is a way which makes the most of the small screen and weakens nothing with everything in the right place.

It’s only been in place a few days but it all seems to work, so I am pretty happy. Click on the logo or go to my home page to see what it looks like.

(Update Nov 2016: this page was originally written when the blog was in a different format, but the sentiments still apply)

2014: Nudes // A personal selection

2014: Nudes // personal selection // digital – film // gentle – provocative – male – female – home – environment – portraits – edgy – vulnerable – classical – collaborations // Sharon – Natasha – Self – Louise  – Steve – Lee-Rex – Violette – Betty // colour – monochrome //

Despite their favoured status, I have omitted to load a number of these images to my portfolio. I am rectifying that alongside this blog and all will hopefully link through by the time you read this…

Sharon Smithers, as part of my Life, at Home project
Sharon Smithers, as part of my Life, at Home project

Fuji Acros 100, Pentax 645 + 45mm f2.8
Fuji Acros 100, Pentax 645 + 45mm f2.8

With Steve Ritter and Natansky - Kodak Tri-X 400, Pentax 645 + 45mm f2.8 developed in Rodinal
With Steve Ritter and Natansky – Kodak Tri-X 400, Pentax 645 + 45mm f2.8 developed in Rodinal

Kodak T-Max 100, monochrome, Pentax MZ-5 with 50mm Pentax-F f1.7 developed in Rodinal
Kodak T-Max 100, monochrome, Pentax MZ-5 with 50mm Pentax-F f1.7 developed in Rodinal

2014-13003

Betty

20140508-r0010982

Broken (2014)

From Black Cap
From Black Cap

20140928-_mg_9610

20140928-_mg_9643

Violette Rose being drawn by Adrian
Violette Rose being drawn by Adrian

20140928-_mg_9672

20140928-_mg_9689

20140928-_mg_9714

20140928-_mg_9724

Louise

20140928-_mg_9846

20140928-_mg_9851

20140928-_mg_9916

20140928-_mg_9935

20140928-_mg_9963

Testing the split screen rangefinder ;)
Testing the split screen rangefinder 😉

Preparations for a scrub (2014)

20141208-r0011262