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Scruff Worship

Alago2 Alago3

I often hear people toy with the idea of dumping their day jobs for pursuits that take them closer to the interests that drive their souls, but few have the balls to actually do it. It can be difficult, and it can be scary. Those who do make the leap are rewarded with the satisfaction that they're doing exactly what they want to do, working for themselves, and enjoying it despite the challenges.

Alago6Michael Alago quit his twenty-year career as a producer and talent scout in the music industry in 2002 to pursue his interest in photography and recently self-published a monograph titled Rough Gods. It's a collection of images of tough characters that includes street hustlers, porn stars (not your Bel Ami variety), punks, and tattooed daddies, coupled with a range of still lifes that are meant to offset the very direct portraits.

While many gay photographers tend to focus on plucked, shaved, and pampered young twinks as their male subjects, Alago's worship is directed at the hairy, muscular, mature, and inked examples.

Michael recently gave me a few basics on the gods in his Pantheon:

Alago4Gay photographers are often drawn to the more boyish aspects of men. What caused you to gravitate toward "rougher" subjects?

I've always been drawn to men with tattoos and extremely muscular bodies...they make my brain tingle...opposites attract I guess...there's something incredibly raw and handsome and beautiful in all that masculinity.

Where do you find your subjects? Are they friends, acquaintances?

I find my models online and on the streets. the men are usually happy with their images so they tell their friends and the list just keeps on's kinda fabulous..I am so grateful for the support.

The book isn't all men. On facing pages you feature still lifes of various objects...what's your thinking behind that?

Alago5I love the juxtaposition of a still life and a male image. They play off each other quite elegantly. I love the masculine/feminine aspect of the images and sometimes [the combination creates] a playfulness that just makes it work.

How did you decide to give up your job in the music industry and focus on photography? Was it a tough decision?

After 22 years in any business...enough can be enough. I had an incredible career and worked with extraordinary artists from Metallica to Nina Simone to PiL to Alan Vega and the list goes on. I made some landmark records but ceased to have fun anymore. The direction of the biz changed and i just wanted out. So one day i gave my notice and off I went...into the world of photography. I also shot Polaroids and collected fine art images for years. I decided I wanted to be part of that world so I started shooting seriously and got a book together and put it out myself...small wonder but gettin' great press and loving it.

Alago1_1Explain the story behind one of your photos.

I really love this session that i did with Joe in a cemetery in Provincetown. The day was really beautiful, the cemetery had real vintage headstones and the mood felt just right. Joe and I talked alot about the images I wanted. Some images have a vintage longshoreman look..felt very Rimbaud, like something out of "the drunken boat" or one of his poems. His eyes are really beautiful and he is exactly the kind of man I love to shoot. Strong, tattooed, and delicious to the eye.

A gallery exhibition of Rough Gods will be on display at the Leslie Lohman Foundation from May 17th to June 25th. Opening May 17th 6—9 pm.

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  1. Now THAT would be something to see, but I'm coming to NYC a few weeks too early. I am sooo buying the book though.

    Posted by: Jimbo | May 4, 2005 6:05:54 PM

  2. Woof! What I like about this blog is the same reason I liked the magazine when Andy was the editor. It is serious and sassy. Infomative and sexy. Woof again!

    Posted by: Donald | May 4, 2005 6:30:02 PM

  3. "woof". I'll never understand some of the intricacies of the bear subculture.

    Posted by: tom | May 4, 2005 8:25:34 PM

  4. Puh-leeze. Trailer Trash & Trade by any other name. What next? Promoting a coffee table book on fisting? Time to taper off the tooting, Andy.

    Posted by: Allen | May 4, 2005 8:54:57 PM

  5. I'd buy a coffee table book about fisting.

    Posted by: tom | May 4, 2005 9:05:27 PM

  6. At last! Some pictures of men on this site who aren't waxed within an inch of their lives!

    Posted by: mp | May 4, 2005 9:55:01 PM

  7. It is refreshing sometimes to see photos of men who aren't cookie cutter images of the perfect male gym body. Now, the next book to come out with be nudes of just regular guys you see everyday in the office. :o)

    Posted by: Patrick | May 4, 2005 10:03:04 PM

  8. As some one who left a corporate career behind to pursue a completely different one, I can identify with Alago's choice. I put myself through school and set out onmy own. I've spent the better part of the last few years developing this business venture and use escort work to support it. I've never been happier.

    Posted by: Ted linden | May 4, 2005 11:12:13 PM

  9. I don't know -- a lot of these guys look just as "plucked, shaved and pampered" as any Bel Ami twink. I mean generally they don't look like they got their abs and pecs because they're working as longshoremen at the docks. Not so much "hairy" as "clipped." And those tats take a lot more careful planning and hours in the chair than a trendy twink haircut and dye job.

    Hot guys? Sure. But they're at least as artificial as any twink -- maybe more.

    Posted by: Buster | May 4, 2005 11:30:11 PM

  10. Finally, something else than pretty boys...

    Posted by: DutchECK | May 5, 2005 5:13:19 AM

  11. Oh yeah, love this!

    Posted by: bmw | May 5, 2005 9:30:46 AM

  12. Hey Andy. Great essay, thanks for creating awareness for Alago's work and the upcoming exhibit at LL. His eye is brilliant.

    Posted by: Rod | May 5, 2005 12:52:06 PM

  13. In my limited, 29 "ISH" years, experience it seems that the gay guys are often the ones willing to take those risks, maybe they're more in tune to their callings. Escort work, "hmm" maybe I could catch up some accounts that way. :))

    Posted by: Brian | May 5, 2005 1:17:19 PM

  14. A man should look like a man! Not like a boy, not like a girl...thank you Andy for briging this type of "art" to us. It's an oasis in a desert of teen-like twinks.

    Posted by: Wayne | May 5, 2005 3:38:53 PM

  15. add one more WOOF to that...

    was getting sick of all the girly twinks around here..

    Posted by: papa | May 6, 2005 5:52:11 AM

  16. They're just as artifical as any other image presented by the gay media...anything that is about as far away as you can get from any likelihood of being gay (young, athletic, collegiate, naturally masculine) is what is marketed to us the most.

    The brilliance of gay media is that they know most gay men will pay through the nose to see images of men they will never get to have in real life. How much would they make off of photos of average, 40-something ho-hum gay men? Of course - nothing!

    Posted by: JL | May 7, 2005 7:27:13 PM

  17. I don't know where you live JL, but these pics actually represent the type of man I like, and certainly the type of men I see at the bars here in Dallas. Visit the Eagle, or the Throckmorton Mining Company any night of the week (both bars are in Dallas) and this is what you'll find there. Maybe it helps that I also resemble these guys, and maybe that's why I'm drawn to them and see them around. To me, these guys are completely average everyday men.

    Posted by: Wayne | May 9, 2005 5:00:14 PM

  18. I love this! Finally some pics and news that isn't related to the prissy pretty boys (what a snooze). These are my type of guys.

    Posted by: Paul | Mar 10, 2006 1:30:41 AM

  19. JL-

    I suspect that your heterosexual siblings and friends would say the same thing about the Madison Avenue marketing of the BP to the average individual.

    The reason that we have so many anorexic and bullemic teenage girls is because they read the fashion and celebrity mags that create a stereotype the plurality cannot achieve.

    True with the male who wonders if girls or later women will accept the unbuff and untoned body with the average penile dimension as opposed to the illusion of the definition of studliness, drop-dead good looks, and killer body to attract the toned, drop-dead gorgeous body and face.

    The truth is that most North Americans, especially U.S. citizens (as opposed to Canadians and Mexicans)are paunchy to overweight - and very very few women are naturally pretty without cosmetics - and that with the exception of private trainers and gym bunnies of either sexual orientation, most men are untoned to marginally so. Besides, all of us grow old and look it....maybe with the exception of Jack LaLane at 95. Drop dead universally defined male good looks - whether on the more alpha to the more beta - are rare breed indeed. IMHO

    Posted by: Raymond | Mar 12, 2006 9:10:20 AM

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