Lost in the "Male"
Tue May 15 2007
Naked boys have been taking a beating in the Metro area lately—and not in the good way.
First there was the life-size naked Jesus made of chocolate that was supposed to go on display at the Roger Smith hotel over Easter. Once the Catholic League's Bill Donohue got a whiff of it, the whole thing melted faster than a bag of M&Ms left in the glove compartment.
Then there was the "artistic" nude photograph of Seth Boyd that former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey proudly displayed in his master bedroom. Not quite sharing her ex's aesthetic sensibilities, Dina Matos McGreevey claimed the tumescent image was inappropriate, considering their 5-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, was crashing with the gov and his boyfriend on weekends.
Of course, all good crises come in threes, so it shouldn't be too surprising that images of unclothed men have stirred the pot once more—this time at Dumbo's powerHouse Arena. After a glowing writeup in a newspaper whose name that rhymes with The Klew Jork Gimes, "The Male Gaze" —a collection of mildly risqu photographs from au currant queer shutterbugs like Ryan McGinley, Slava Motugun, Jack Pierson and James Bidgood—was set to be the buzzed-about homo event of the weekend.
Unfortunately, in addition to being Mother's Day, last weekend was also Brooklyn Designs, the home dcor expo that's invaded St. Ann's Warehouse for the past five years. The concurrent events should have passed like two gay ships in the night, except that powerHouse rented a portion of its Main Street gallery to Brooklyn Designs months in advance, well before "The Male Gays"—er, Gaze, was brought to fruition. "We had a pre-existing rental with Brooklyn Design Fair before we conceived Male Gaze," powerHouse founder Daniel Power wrote in an e-mail to this reporter. "Most of our rentals call for a clean space, but in this instance they indicated the show could stay up if the explicit images were hidden or removed, due to the G-rated makeup of their attendees and to not distract from the furniture presentations."
So down came a total of seven works by McGinley, Brian Kenny and Raymond Carrance, and up went a sign explaining the pieces had been taken down at the request of the Brooklyn Designs fair.
"Apparently there were some sexually explicit images and powerHouse themselves volunteered to take them down," says Dania Ahmad, a publicist for Novita PR, the firm repping Brooklyn Designs. "We just took them up on their offer." For his part, Power recalls things differently. "They flagged the images they thought might cause problems," he explained. "I wanted to drape in funereal bunting, but [powerHouse Books editor] Nick [Weist] nixed that and chose to relocate them upstairs for the duration of the show."
In theory, visitors could have asked to see the questionable pieces, which were sequestered on the second floor, but the logistics were complicated. " We hadn't planned for so many people," Power explained. "So there was some confusion as to whether the request was to see the pieces themselves or the images of the pieces on the gallery [price] sheet."
Ironically this isn't the first time powerHouse—known for exhibits and photo-books that push the envelope—has gotten cold feet. "We had an event in December for kids where the only place for Santa's chair was in front of Arlene Gottreid's sex club pics," recalled Power, "so we covered them in gold eyelash curtains."