The gay man’s guide to Australian football’s hottest hunks

DEAR sports fans: Not all of us are watching for the thrill of victory. Here are the hottest footballers in Australia, and why we should take notice both on and off the field.

SPORTS fans take note: not all of us are watching for the thrill of the win.

Some of us are more concerned, ahem, with the thrill of the arm flex, or flesh flash.

Some of us don’t give a hoot about who was handed a penalty card, or who kicked the best field goal.

In fact, I have no idea what an ankle tap or hard ball get might entail, but heck, I can let my imagination run wild.

That’s right, some of us are interested in the AFL and NRL because of one simple thing: perve factor.

And with the 2013 season underway, what better way to reacquaint ourselves with Australian football’s leading lads than with….

hottest men in Australian football and why we should take notice both on – and off – the field.

12. Lance „Buddy“ Franklin (AFL)He couldn’t kick straight in last year’s grand final against Sydney, but then, this list isn’t exactly about a straight perspective, is it?

11. Jude Bolton (AFL)He helped the Sydney Swans to victory in the AFL premiership last year and holds the record for most tackles in an AFL career. Wouldn’t mind a wrestle around the ring, hey Jude?

10. Drew Mitchell (Super 15)After 67 Tests for the Wallabies, „big daddy“ Drew Mitchell isn’t in his finest form on the field. Perhaps he needs to take a long hard look in the mirror. I know I would if I were him.

9. David Zaharakis (AFL)Speaking of cradle-robbing, when 23-year-old David Zaharakis burst onto the scene in 2009 by kicking the winning goal in the Anzac Day game, you just knew a young man of serious talent had arrived. And that golden tan! You could melt butter on that skin….H.O.T.

8. James O’Connor (Super 15)Rugby’s pin-up boy is still just 22 but has all sorts of international experience with 37 Wallabies caps. Cradle-robber much?

7 David Pocock (Super 15)The Wallabies skipper has been outspoken against homophobia and is a strong advocate of gay marriage. Hello… need I say more?

6. Josh Dugan (NRL)Poor Josh Dugan has met with controversy over the last week for his bad boy behaviour, but his last sighting, in which the fullback was spotted drinking a Bacardi Breezer, suggests we might have more in common than previously thought.

5. David Williams (NRL)A Google search of this Eagle reveals everything you need to know about the wild animal we call Wolfman. What’s not to love about a man who modelled for Calvin Klein? He has since shaved his bounteous facial hair and is looking fast, clean-cut and ready for all sorts of wild action. Booyeh!

4. Shaun Hampson (AFL)If he’s good enough for Megan Gale, he’s good enough for me. At 201cm tall there’s no shortage of body to snuggle up to on the cold winter nights ahead.

3. Berrick Barnes (Super 15)Moustache + muscle + Berrick Barnes = delicious. He excelled in rugby league, he excels in rugby union, and I’ve got a feeling this 26 year-old NSW Waratahs star would sizzle in nearly any position. Maybe its the ’70s porn star look?

2. Matt Cooper (NRL)He has been described as Rugby League’s „power player“ and credits mixed martial arts and Cross Fit for that sizzling body. Even at age 33, there is still plenty of fire in this dragon.

1. Mike Harris (Super 15)You might not know Mike Harris, but it’s my pleasure to introduce you. He’s a Kiwi-turned Aussie who plays for the Queensland Reds in rugby’s Super 15 competition and my pick of the crop. Drool factor? Off the charts.

Hot Legs (Short Gay Film)

Short Film produced by Underdog Productions (Pty) Ltd in 1995.

Note: This film contains some male nudity, contains material of a gay nature, and may be disturbing to younger viewers. It also contains some fast flash shots.

Written & Directed by Luiz DeBarossProduced by: Marc Schwinges

Starring:Tim: David DucasDave: Gerrie BarnardTim Jnr: Glen FineDave Jnr: Leon WeedKid One: Miguel BarrosKid Tow: Marcus MuddPoliceman One: Carlo GoertzPoliceman Two: Criag KellyMother: Mariana CarrilloSon: Sipho Khuzwago Moyo

Director of Photography: Peter PohorskyProduction Manager: Brendan RiceProduction Assistant: David HeckerFocus Puller: Greg PoissonGrip: Tony Slater

Sound: Jeremy HattinghSound: Ian MillerBoom Operator: Sean Kelly

Senior Make-up Artist: Adrienne CohenMake-Up Artist: Ionka Nel

Runners: Wayne Fick, Paul Hanrahan, Hal Couzens, Bronwyn Vermeulen, Oliver Galloway.

Post Production Advisor: Hal CouzensNon-Liner Editor: Llewelyn Roderick

Executive Producers: Marc Schwinges, Catherine Bester & Charlotte Bauer

Hot Legs (Short Gay Film)

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Touko Laaksonen’s groundbreaking gay erotic art has made him a global icon. For more than 50 years until his death in 1991, the artist better known as ‘Tom of Finland’ drew gay men in a way that was radical: his muscular young hunks were happy, playful and unashamedly sexual, without being menacing.

His work, which he liked to call ‘dirty drawings’, first found an audience on the gay underground in the 1950s and 1960s, but since then has edged ever closer to mainstream acceptance. His hyper-masculine aesthetic has influenced Freddie Mercury, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Village People, fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, and photographers Robert Mapplethorpe and Bruce Weber. It’s also become a globally recognised brand to the extent that you can now buy a Tom of Finland tea towel on Amazon. But nevertheless, his more explicit work retains an unwavering capacity to shock.

Touko Laaksonen’s friend Durk Dehner (here pictured at London’s House of Illustration) has ensured the survival of his legacy

His posthumous success has undoubtedly been bolstered by the fact that in 1984, towards the end of his life, Laaksonen founded a non-profit foundation with his friend Durk Dehner to preserve and promote his catalogue of more than 3,500 illustrations. The Tom of Finland Foundation has championed Laaksonen’s work so effectively that it’s now displayed at leading galleries including New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. In 2014, the Finnish postal service even celebrated his impact with a set of commemorative postage stamps. And this month, the UK’s first public exhibition dedicated solely to his work opened at London’s House of Illustration (though the gallery is currently closed due to the Coronavirus crisis). Curator Olivia Ahmad says the show, produced in collaboration with the Tom of Finland Foundation on the centenary of Laaksonen’s birth, is necessary because he’s “one of the most influential figurative artists of the late 20th Century”.

At the same time, Tom of Finland is still more of a cult figure than a household name like Andy Warhol (who owned several of his pieces) because his art remains incredibly provocative, especially to the straight male gaze. Many of his illustrations show men with heavily muscled torsos and surreally large genitalia engaging gleefully in sex acts. Some early Tom of Finland illustrations depicting soldiers in Nazi uniforms are also inherently problematic. Art historian Dr James Hicks says Tom of Finland is sometimes overlooked in the mainstream art world because “his work is dangerous and is meant to be dangerous”.

Equally, Tom of Finland’s deification of a certain type of gay man – muscular and avowedly masculine – hasn’t necessarily endeared him to all corners of the LGBTQ community. His influential drawings of men in leather and biker outfits helped to inspire the popular Gay Clone look that Freddie Mercury and Frankie Goes to Hollywood adopted and brought into the mainstream, but also made his work appear exclusionary to other queer factions.

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Even though I had to hide my own desires – or maybe because of it – I started drawing fantasies of free and happy gay men – Tom Laaksonen

In the 2011 book Tom of Finland: Life and Work of a Gay Hero, Dehner reflected that members of an activist group called Queer Nation “protested [Touko] not long after his death, calling him a ‘sell out’ – only drawing what they saw as ‘straights’.” And in 2020, Tom of Finland’s stylised hunks could look like the embodiment of the toxic ‘masc4masc’ culture that pervades gay dating apps, shaming queer men who present in a more femme way.

Tom of Finland’s drawings were inherently subversive – because they dared to present imagery that mainstream society wasn’t ready to accept

However, it’s important not to separate Tom of Finland’s drawings from the historical context in which he created them. “At the time when I became aware of my sexual orientation, before World War Two, all gay activity was forbidden by law in most countries,” Laaksonen writes in the preface to his 1988 book, Retrospective I. Laaksonen, born in 1920 and raised by schoolteacher parents in a small town in southwestern Finland, says the first gay men he encountered “felt ashamed and guilty, like [they were] belonging to a lower human category” as a result of the prejudice they faced. He also acknowledges that his creativity was a reaction to this shame, saying: “Even though I had to hide my own desires – or maybe because of it – I started drawing fantasies of free and happy gay men.”

What’s more, Laaksonen developed his distinctive aesthetic – a homoerotic fantasy world populated by gay men who epitomised physical fitness and male desirability – as a corrective response to the particular, reductive way in which gay men were portrayed at the time. Even if Laaksonen’s drawings now seem to perpetuate the stereotype of gay men as inherently sexual and supremely body-conscious, they were once groundbreaking for this very reason.

“Pop culture representations of gay and queer men in the first half of the 20th Century are dominated by the image of the ‘pansy’,” says Dr Justin Bengry, who runs the Queer History course at Goldsmiths, University of London. Bengry says that the ‘pansy’ homosexual was invariably portrayed as “effete” and “the butt of the joke”. Even when he was allowed to “get one over on everyone else”, he was inevitably held up as exemplifying a kind of “failed masculinity”. “Tom of Finland is clearly a reaction against that,” Bengry asserts. “He’s showing that homoerotic desire can be masculine, valid, fun and playful.”

Even though I had to hide my own desires – or maybe because of it – I started drawing fantasies of free and happy gay men – Tom Laaksonen

His work captures a raw sexual energy that’s unashamed, punk, rebellious, fantastical, sleazy and most importantly very funny – Chris Weller

Tom of Finland’s gleeful and very gay brand of sexual freedom still resonates today – more than 60 years after his first drawing was published. “His work captures a raw sexual energy that’s unashamed, punk, rebellious, fantastical, sleazy and most importantly very funny,” says drag performer Chris Weller, aka Baby Lame. Weller says he “always feels slightly dirty” when he looks at Tom of Finland’s drawings, but adds: “It’s a feeling I like!”

Tom of Finland’s muscular young hunks were a reaction against the portrayal of gay men as effete – but arguably have proved exclusionary in their hyper-masculinity

Hicks says Tom of Finland’s work doesn’t just feel dangerous because of its overt queerness, but also “because of the way he’s playing with subcultures like leather and BDSM and the way he’s playing with race”. Laaksonen first drew a man of colour in 1960, and as his career progressed, he included more interracial couples in his drawings – something which certainly made his art feel even more taboo at the time. While it might be argued that Tom of Finland reinforces the stereotype of the hypersexual black male, it’s also fair to say that his white males were heavily sexualised too.

However, if these elements of his work are inspiringly subversive, the way Tom of Finland plays with imagery from the Third Reich is undoubtedly much more morally murky – even though Laaksonen unequivocally dismissed suggestions he might be a Nazi sympathiser. Laaksonen, who had sexual encounters with German servicemen stationed in Helsinki during World War Two, claimed “in my drawings I have no political statements to make, no ideology. I am thinking only about the picture itself. The whole Nazi philosophy, the racism and all that, is hateful to me, but of course I drew them anyway – they had the sexiest uniforms!”

But in another way, Tom of Finland’s unashamedly gay drawings were inherently political – namely, because they dared to present imagery that mainstream society wasn’t ready to accept. Laaksonen had been drawing for his own pleasure since the 30s, but in 1956 he submitted one of his efforts to the American beefcake magazine Physique Pictorial and had it published – that was when editor Bob Mizer gave him the pseudonym ‘Tom of Finland’.

Tom of Finland’s work in Physique Pictorial was so gay that it couldn’t be any gayer but just bodybuilding-y enough that it could be gotten away with – Dr James Hicks

Though publications like Physique Pictorial were ostensibly presented as bodybuilding manuals celebrating the male form, many were essentially purveyors of gay erotica hiding in plain sight. Unlike gay pornography, beefcake magazines could be sold on American newsstands and sent through the US mail. “I don’t think Physique Pictorial had much of a straight male audience,” says Bengry. “I think that it trod a line carefully so that it could plausibly deny being a gay magazine if the issue came up, but realistically it was self-consciously and knowingly a gay magazine.”

In 2014, the Finnish postal service celebrated Tom of Finland’s impact with a set of commemorative postage stamps

Hicks agrees, saying Tom of Finland’s “work in Physique Pictorial was so gay that it couldn’t be any gayer” but also “just bodybuilding-y enough that it could be gotten away with.” These illustrations resonated with gay men around the world so strongly that Laaksonen developed a mail-order business as a kind of cottage industry for his artwork. During the 1960s, he worked at an advertising agency in Helsinki during the day, then created his beloved ‘dirty drawings’ at night. “He photographed and printed his drawings in a makeshift darkroom, then posted them to his customers across the world,” says Ahmad. “These photographs are so tiny – small enough to fit into an airmail envelope because letter-sized mail was unlikely to be opened by postal authorities” who might censor them.

And without having to maintain the pretence necessary for Physique Pictorial, Laaksonen could make his mail-order drawings explicitly sexual rather than merely highly suggestive. Ahmad says it’s hard not to be moved by these photographs today because it was so risky for them to be produced, distributed and even owned at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in many countries.

His muscular soldiers, lumberjacks and leathermen bikers were a direct contrast to the emasculating stereotypes that existed in his lifetime – Olivia Ahmad

Laaksonen was more artist than businessman, and for many years he was poorly paid for his illustrations by both the niche titles who published them and fans who commissioned bespoke pieces. By 1973, however, he was earning enough money to quit his day job at the advertising agency and devote himself fully to drawing. His popularity continued to grow during the last two decades of his life, and in 1979 he and Dehner formed the Tom of Finland Company to copyright earlier work which had been widely pirated. Nearly 30 years after his death in 1991 from an emphysema-induced stroke, it’s arguable that his influence is more widely felt than ever. Fans can even buy a Tom of Finland leather jockstrap, a development which would surely tickle the late illustrator. Both curator Ahmad and Hicks hail his work as “revolutionary”. “His muscular soldiers, lumberjacks and leathermen bikers were a direct contrast to the emasculating stereotypes that existed in his lifetime and that still exist in some ways today,” Ahmad says.

Freddie Mercury is one of a number of artists to have been influenced by Tom of Finland’s aesthetic

Weller says Tom of Finland’s work is now being reimagined by a new generation of queer performers who “play with the tropes he created and then really turn them on their head to create work that is political, challenging and often sexy”. Weller also says he sees a rarely discussed drag element to his aesthetic, citing his instantly recognisable “lewks [looks], attitudes and costumes”. Equally, Tom of Finland continues to inspire creatives and fashion designers. US underwear brand Rufskin launched a Tom of Finland range in 2015, while artist and Kanye West collaborator Cali DeWitt created a T-shirt for the Tom of Finland foundation last year.

A century after his birth, Tom of Finland’s original art also remains provocative and challenging to audiences still catching up with his unabashedly sexual, queer utopian vision. But as his reputation continues to swell it’s hard to deny that he achieved his primary aim: “I want to show that gays can feel happy together – that they have a right to be happy together.”

Willie

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