David Hurles photos collected here may one day be viewed as the last great expression of homoerotic Rough Trade in America. Situated mostly in the 1970s through 80s, these photos represent the author's and others' fascination with the world of hard-edged, hard-bodied working class and mostly -- though not exclusively -- white men on the fringes of society. The harsh realities of these men's lives can been seen in the details of these pictures: prison-made tattoos, young men with prematurely aged faces, bodies whose lean hardness was produced by hard physical work rather than by working out.
This now lost world of hard-edged same-sex male eroticism and sociability was swept away by a New World of "gay" men in which picture-perfect air-brushed Abercrombie and Fitch chiseled physiques are the standard of male beauty, female-identified "gay" men take characters from chick-flics like "Desperate Housewives" and "Sex in the City" as their as their role-models, and in which the professional white upper-middle classes who hi-jacked direction of activism around issues of same-sex desire quashed post-Stone Wall radical sexual politics in favor of "gay" marriage. The kinds of men photographed here would probably have the cops called on them by patrons of the Castro in San Francisco, Chelsea in New York or any other chic "gay" district in any big American city were they to think about frequenting such places today; which of course they would not. Hurles photos will remain as a testament and homage to a vanished world of same-sex male eroticism whose echoes are the parodies of masculinity and virility found in various fetish-scenes in the contemporary Brave New World of "gay" male culture. They are an invaluable historical document.