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Gay Semiotics
by Hal Fischer
© 1977

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ARCHETYPAL MEDIA IMAGES
ARCHETYPAL MEDIA IMAGE
NATURAL

Figure 5

The natural prototype originates in
attitudes firmly ingrained in the American consciousness. This archetype has antecedents in both the American folk tradition and the arts (see the work of Twain, Eakins and Whitman). The model
is photographed out of doors usually in a forest of field environment with natural lighting. Any subject can be made "natural" when photographed under the proper conditions. The natural archetype carries positive connotations. It implies virility, simplicity and most importantly freedom from any type of social structure.


Figure 6
ARCHETYPAL MEDIA IMAGE
CLASSICAL

The classical prototype can be viewed as a modern caricature of antique sculptural ideals. the gay media employs a classical motif rather extensively because it is universally understood and therefore commercially viable. the subject is usually presented in a highly dramatic or "socially recognized" artistic pose, roughly comparable to the classical and drawing its legitimacy from its antique predecessors. The subject is usually fully illuminated, or edge lighting is employed, with no scenery or props and a neutral background.

ARCHETYPAL MEDIA IMAGE
WESTERN

Figure 7

The western or cowboy prototype is identified by articles of clothing: cowboy or western boots, jeans, flannel or western style shirts and in some instances hats. When the image appears in gay magazines the settings are usually barns, corrals or fence posts. The cowboy represents the frontier and a male-only society. The machismo qualities of the western archetype are vigorously exploited by advertising. Modern cowboys are used by the media to play up masculinity and sexuality in ways that are subconsciously understood by the gay populace.


Figure 8
ARCHETYPAL MEDIA IMAGE
URBANE

The growth of the gay culture has brought about a concern for quality in the gay media. Magazines are now appearing which include male centerfolds and photo essays, but also feature quality writing oriented to the urbane gay male. The urbane prototype expressed through fashionable attire emphasizes the gay male who is open and positive about his image and capable of functioning within the culture-at-large. It represents a new level of consciousness and a positive attitude towards the gay culture by elements both within and outside the subculture.


ARCHETYPAL MEDIA IMAGE
LEATHER

Figure 9

The leather prototype is the most easily recognized look. Black leather items include everything from hoods to jackets, pants, caps and underwear. Accoutrements include motorcycles, chains and various sexual items. In the gay media black leather becomes a symbol for the unknown or untried. It is entirely, vehemently, macho in appearance. While the other archetypes have their roots in myths accepted and celebrated by the culture-at-large, the leather cult, like its straight counterpart is rooted in non-acceptance and non-conformity.


Figure 10
DOMINANCE

Dominace is achieved through the creation of an aura. In this example the aggressor has selected a black leather mask with eye and nose slits and matching black leather underwear. He also finds that a studded collar and conplementary wrist bands give his partner an added thrill. The "command torso" harness is adjustable to any chest size and has metal rings for attatchments. The aggressor's black, hairy chest is the perfect complement to the dominance look.

SADISM & MASOCHISM

Figure 11

S & M activities demand structured role playing and a high level of communication between partners. In this case the M, clad only in leather jock strap and padded restraints, anticipates a whipping. The bare chested S prefers the anonymity of the hood and obliges his partner with a whipping from his specially selected cat-o-nine tails. While all this takes place in an atmosphere of good, clean fun, a lack of communication between the S and M can result in bodily harm.


Figure 12
SUBMISSION

Bondage creates sexual stimuli through immobilization. A number of devices are available for this purpose including wrist restraints, harnesses, and collars. The black leather strait jacket with four buckles and belted sleeves is a specialty item, guaranteed to please the most demanding S and M connoisseurs. However, economy minded individuals will find that rope clothesline and a book on sailor's knots can provide a great deal of variety and hours of enjoyment at a minimal expense.

BONDAGE DEVICE OPEN END TABLE RACK BONDAGE DEVICE MEAT HOIST

Figure 13

Figure 14
BONDAGE DEVICE CROSS

Figure 15