And the answer to the title is obviously quite a lot! Only this is not a work concerned with the expression of overt sexuality; rather the reverse side of the coin in the form of photographic censorship.
For such is the dilemma facing the budding Bob Mizer of our story, namely how do you artistically, erotically and sexually, photograph the male nude? Eager to find the answer, he arranges his model in a variety of positions, posing pouch included, so as to keep his modesty intact. But who is the model? A bodybuilder? A high school athlete? A
wrestling star? Or could it be Kevin?, your local garage mechanic thankful for a hot shower after a hard days work. Or is it Bob?, football hero fresh out of his shorts. Or Jimmy?, back on leave from the Merchant Navy and getting ready for a night out. Oh the possibilities are endless!
Thankfully such possibilities arrive with a twist in a tale that is not so much a showcase for homoerotic titillation, but rather a case study on what was legally permissible to show in an era of strict censorship, one far removed from the legality of the UK hardcore market of today. Namely a time when the difference between a photographer's work being exhibited or seized, was but an inch in the upright direction!
And here think police raids, fines and imprisonment courtesy of the 1984 Video Recordings Act, one that whilst intended for 'video nasties', equally laid down the viewing code for images of a sexually explicit nature. Rushing to the defence of erotica, writer and director Ron Peck of NIGHTHAWKS fame provides us with a history lesson on the depiction
of the male nude; full of pride in the arena of Ancient Greece, celebrated in religious paintings of the Renaissance, put out under the guise of muscle magazines in the fifties and at the time that this short was made, subject to severe censorship.
Yet interestingly Peck delivers the case for the defence as a two-man show, having staged the piece entirely through the viewfinder, thereby focusing our attention on the model who never speaks and the photographer, who thinks aloud but is never seen. For some, this setup may appear to be somewhat tiresome and yet Peck keeps us entertained throughout, thanks to a script laced with wit and charm, let alone the physical attributes of model / actor John Brown coupled with John Levitt's pitch-perfect vocal performance of a gay photographer whose concern for the legality of his study of the male nude, is matched by his fascination with it.
The result is a homoerotically charged tale of sexual censorship, one whose largely non-explicit imagery is used to chart the repercussions of an act passed by the Government of the day, only to be laid to rest by the Government of tomorrow, thereby enabling images of the male nude to flourish in all forms of the visual arts. Need more be said?