Samples of His Seraglio

A Las Vegas acquaintance sought to pry some odd information from me. He asked the male equivalent for boudoir pictures. Until he’d wondered aloud, who knew one existed?

The query fluttered a few weeks before St. Valentine’s Day. This being Las Vegas, there was probably a time when substantial percentages of residents might’ve looked back on a distant February 14th that commemorated a number of Chicagoans who’d gotten bumped off in a North Side garage before thinking of bonbons, flowers, and an extravagant, okay, expensive, dining experience over which endearments and tender phrases were exchanged.

For those unaware, boudoir photos are niche portraits in which women sit, recline in come-hither, artfully-lighted poses, if dressed at all then scantily. These favors are then bestowed on lovers or held as keepsakes by the model.

On the surface these have plenty in common with nudies lovers snap on their cells. However, unlike images retained on a handheld device, extremely few boudoir photos are spur of the moment goofs often taken in the whim of hooch, dope, and lust. Boudoir photos have been contemplated, benefit from production values, and are proud objects of possession, though to select and trusted eyes.

Whereas nudie pics taken spontaneously frequently start countdowns to possible mortification. Once that image resides on another’s phone, the subject has lost all say in determining who sees it, how it’s disseminated.

Amazingly, neither party ever discusses the above or feels any requirement for waivers. Nobody ever thinks about any likelihood of “after.”

These graphic scenes offer no production values, save maybe straightening bedsheets and covers or tossing any plush animals out of the frame. As far as posing, being drunken or drug-addled only enhance luridness, not attraction.

Again, this being Las Vegas, I’ve seen an indecent share of in flagranti women smeared in pixels. Once the thrill is gone, and they’ve skipped with it, their former boyfriends or ex-husbands turn former intimate remembrances into what some may regard as revenge-porn commodities.

One special purveyor of the let no fucked-up naked woman go to waste credo served as doorman at a swank Strip property. During our Covid interim, that cat’s made himself scarce. Who knows where he’s landed in the last two years?

Before vanishing, though, if a male he recognized approached the valet, he’d draw him aside, whip out his cell then display the latest woman who’d submitted to his nothing-to-hide blandishments. There was nothing artful about his portraitures. Instead, these epitomized low and base. Not because the women were naked objectifications. Rather, he habitually placed props near or into their sexes while lopping off their heads in the compositions.

In one he’d even found a foam alligator head. He’d posed it chomping the subject’s crotch. Such inventiveness.

These pictures got him off. One wonders how the subjects received them.

It’s one thing to be wanted. Feelings of objectification aside, who doesn’t yearn to be desired and cemented in memory? And initially that’s what a lot of nudie pics on the phone provide. Immediate solid memories. Only afterwards, after feelings have dissipated, intimacies turned to dust and blown away, do the images become weaponized.

Knowing Southern Nevada women, the sort attracted here from throughout the Southwest and Intermountain, generally possessors of lower self-esteem, how they were captured might’ve disturbed them. But after lifetimes of degrading one more instance accommodating a man wouldn’t jar. So they’d never look ahead to a time of divergence which also casually exposed them.

Male boudoir pictures, though? That stumped me. Does such an animal exist?

The only answer I could give my interlocutor was “dick pics.” We’d each reached that conclusion. It dissatisfied us both with same amounts of sordid unsavoriness. There’s nothing beguiling about an uncontextualized wang.

My acquaintance ventured perhaps if he had examples to display, I, or together we might establish a suitable term. My silence surely meant acquiescence.

Expecting him to have whipped out his cell, he instead surprised by placing an album on the table we shared. A black album. Not one of those cheap flimsy covers with transparent fronts used for reports, but something sturdy with a spine and engraved with arabesques.

Of course.

Anticipating what ought have been my obvious question, he preferred hard copies to the easy ephemera and even easier purloined digital pictures. Despite being my junior, the guy knew how one lost phone could severely disrupt life. So, no sensitive stuff on his handheld. It contained no accounts. No possibly compromising images filled its memory. At worst just dumbass selfies. Phone numbers. SMS addresses. Several time-killing apps. He’d watched more contemporaries than he liked to count whose carelessness had them making hairshirt pilgrimages on grin-and-bare-it social media.

Receptive as I am, I didn’t open his album with trepidation. I flipped through pages which weren’t precisely “male boudoir” prints. Women joined him on every page. These pairs were caught in thoughtful congress. Not ecstasy which could’ve been manufactured. After all, it’s hard not playing up to the camera.

Whenever I hear the command “Be natural” before the lens, I instead think “Be unconscious.”

Fortunately, he was in shape. No tats. No piercings. No gauge. No Gen-whatever argot. No ambisexual hair grooming. Forget trustworthy. He comes across as less a risk than dependable.

His presentability must’ve lowered a lot of partners’ defenses. Not so much with having anonymous relations with a stranger. This is after all Las Vegas. That’s common currency around here. But such instances being recorded.

An increasing number of women working in the shadowy earnings field are less and less the drugged-out party girls feeding their monkeys. Instead, life and lifestyle demand better than can be gained slinging any kind of restaurant food or wasting away as eye candy at a receptionist desk. Also something about repaying college loans.

Moreover, what squares may judge as unsavory pursuits augments the independent contractors’ day trading. Money from the market gets socked into accounts that’ll ideally only be tapped once easy beauty has faded and dreams are ready to be funded.

Their expressions were cool. The women were quite aware of the glass eye that would satisfy an unblinking male gaze.

Say this – he exploited nice stretches of Las Vegas’ manmade horizons. Instead of resorting to the sterility of photographing in plain rooms, he’d book accommodations in Strip or near-Strip addresses. Always on weekends when rack rates plummeted. Always in rooms whose windows faced east. High enough, nothing obscured views in and out. One can imagine the joy of the fortunate visiting voyeur who just happened having his/her spyglass opportunely directed and focused.

He’d shoot afternoons into evenings.

Opened Champagne bottles and drained flutes either littered the scenes or further busied them. He feigned hurt when I asked whether music had accompanied these sessions. Naturally. Classical mixtures.

The apparatus playing these compositions cheapened the moments for him. He much would’ve preferred lugging over albums, a turn table, and speakers rather than plug a flash drive into a boom box. But after Harvest 91 why invite any scrutiny above the usual?

After the first several of his series, he changed arrangement. Initially, good old missionary served fine though without satisfaction. His. Seeing his face disturbed him. By remedy he devised a Kama Sutra/wrestling pose that became his constant. It emphasized limbs.

Whether the platform a bed or chair, he’d anchor a leg on the floor then twine arms around his partners’ thighs and leverage himself forward. In these scenes his mass obscured women’s carriages while their forelegs bisected his trunk.

His women were always barefoot. None of that lacquered black pumps, stilettoes, or bondage shoe kink for him. Fastidious to this point: all of the soles of his partners’ feet were clean.

However, what most captivated were the women’s expressions. Theirs were the only ones offered in the latter set. And let me reemphasize none shied away from looking straight at the lens. I gather some already contemplated beyond their appearances, but their reception. In them they show a calculated inclination. To please? Not look ridiculous. None were withdrawn or reluctant. First take? After multiple shots? Depended on that day’s partner’s ease.

A skill retained as a former journo? There are no stupid questions. Just unasked ones. This extended to who operated the camera. No photographer as there would’ve been in conventional boudoir pictures. The camera tripod-mounted. A timer sufficed.

He preferred matte prints to glossy. He conceived the former awarding his pictures “museum qualities.” On matte paper his home printer still popped colors and didn’t bleed. “Museum qualities” aside, matte prints also meant less worry about smudging.

Placing his head behind the women’s rendered him a mystery. Essentially while we may surmise or possibly gauge or even project thoughts about the women, he remains an unknown. He preferred being anonymous. It enhanced his appreciation of the prints. Only he knew what he thought as the image was captured.

Naked as he was, only seeing the back of his head made him better than blank. It rendered him vague.

Don’t think of it as a secret. Just withheld information.

In the end, how did we label his photography? It needed a masculine handle. Boudoir in any way, any fashion, wasn’t going to cut it for an American man. Jokey and winking suggestions were dismissed out of hand.

“Bangin’ Uglies. Hittin’ That Honey. Crushin’ Booty.”

Titles like any of those would’ve undermined the gravity he hoped extending. Besides, they would’ve diluted intrigue.

We went with alliteration. And for that select crowd before whom he’d exhibit his trove, there’d be a nod towards glimpses into what’s permissible for the elect.

Vizier visions.