Comin' at Ya!: The Homoerotic 3-D Photographs of Denny Denfield.

Description

208 pages
Contains Photos
$31.95
ISBN 978-1-55152-225-8
DDC 779'.28092

Publisher

Year

2007

Contributor

Reviewed by John Stanley

John Stanley is a policy advisor at the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and
Universities.

Review

“Smut has its own legitimacy,” according to Tom Waugh. The fascinating work contained in this volume may have originally been conceived as nothing more ambitious than smut, but today it opens the door on the vanished world of 1950s and 1960s male sexuality. Unlike the other photographers of the male nude during this period, Lloyd “Denny” Denfield (1918–1992) of San Francisco had no intention of selling his work and so was not limited by the ever-present pouch that kept photographers from being arrested. Accompanied by two introductory essays by Thomas Waugh of Montreal and David L. Chapman of Seattle as well as a pair of 3-D plastic glasses, this publication has, at its heart, 177 stereo views, carefully cleaned and presented by Chapman from a collection of thousands—the largest group of non-commercial erotic photos from this era.

 

The collection divides itself among physique shots—similar to the strut-and-flex commercial photographs of the period, but significantly without the pouch—and action photos that detail various sexual acts. There is a chronological overlap between the two groups, but the action shots end around 1955 while the physique photos continue until 1965. Of course, both types were strictly illegal and Denfield ran a huge risk.

 

Despite some printer’s errors on p. 22 and footnotes that do not appear on the same page as the reference, these invaluable images are there for us to fill out a pre-Stonewall queer landscape that may only be constructed from such historical fragments. In Denfield’s world, the models are neither straight nor gay, trade nor trick. There is an ambiguity and even a contradiction in the posing and presentation of the men. The photographer and the models lived in an underground where there were few distinct divisions, offering contemporary viewers an insight into the past. Nonetheless, this book’s contribution to gay male history should not obscure its documentation of this period in photography, giving us a chance to evaluate the work of Denny Denfield.

Citation

Chapman, David L., Thomas Waugh., “Comin' at Ya!: The Homoerotic 3-D Photographs of Denny Denfield.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28715.