photo of the day 10/23/2011. photo © Mark I Chester. "portrait of a bootman taken while face to face with his big black boots" from the series Bad Boys on Parade, portraits on the verge of the new millennium, 1999.
I am posting this in honor of Bootman's birthday which was also 10/22. I first met Bootman in 1994 when we were both online through a dial up to queernet and its gl-asb (gay lesbian alt sex bondage) listserv. My first feeble attempt to get online with only a text interface and interact with other radical sex gay men and lesbians. Bootman was very helpful, especially since this was a unix system which I was totally unfamiliar with. A graphical interlace is sooooooooooooo much easier. ;)
I must say that we have a rather unique friendship and that we both have grown and changed because of it. We share a common religious background, an interest in musical theater and an interest in leather and leathersex. And like most of my friends, I asked him to let me photograph him. My work with Bootman has resulted in some of my most powerful images. I love this image for how simple it is and at the same time for how evocative it is. Whenever I have it on display, Bootman somehow becomes a kind of leather everyman and viewers repeatedly tell me that he looks just like someone they know - my roommate from college, this guy I used to date in Indiana, an ex-lover from Miami. And of course, Bootman is none of them.
It's also interesting that Bootman has never really been totally comfortable with this portrait. He loves it and thinks it is hot. But he can't relate to it being a photograph of himself. He feels like it has become such an icon, that he can't live up to the expectations that are created by this shot. I'd rather look at it as a reminder to Bootman, that we are all sexual icons, and that erotic and sexual energy are a beautiful light that shines from within, even when we are reluctant to acknowledge it, embrace it and celebrate it. Happy Birthday, Bootman!