Jim French may sound more familiar as Rip Colt, of Colt studios, the homoerotic publishing company who's beefcake models set the standard of the 70 and 80s homoerotic magazines. It's hard to overstate his influence on male erotica and gay culture in general; his images and ideas have become tropes – the bike cop, the navy uniform, the mustache with a leather cap, cowboys and chaps of all styles. Some of his pictures are iconic even to those unversed in the genre beyond the Village People. Think the two cowboys standing facing one another with hips jutting forward that was famously used by Vivian Westwood in one of her early SEX shop t-shirts. Sid Vicious and Souxie Souix wore it frequently.
The work in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor: Polaroids is of a more intimate nature than the prints that French produces now. The Polaroids give the viewer a chance to see the artist’s process, and the way in which the poses came about. All the ubiquitous costumes are there. The Polaroids were
used to test lighting conditions and try new ideas without wasting costly film. The result is slightly yellowed corners and a color pallet that has faded with the years.
It is a delicate look at nude male portraiture, beyond erotica.
Review by John Hutt
Photos by Tanya Kiseleva