So I was browsing this afternoon on Fetlife and found a link to this article, called “Should I Work in Fetish Modeling?” As it was written by SLEPhotography, one of the loudest voices against this project, and as it was written a bit after this project began, I thought I would see what he said.
Fetish modeling, like regular modeling, is heavily skewed (based on the buying market) towards females. In some respects it’s more female-centric than the mainstream market. A lot of straight men who approach this (as dominants or submissives) seem to have the idea there’s a huge need for them. Much as in porn, they’re mistaken. Unless they’re willing to do gay work (for which there is a much larger male market) the chances of becoming a regular well known fetish model are vanishingly small. The same is true for the huge number of transsexual, transgendered, and gender queer models, all most all of whom (in my experience) are genetic males, who want to push in here.* The small niche and limited opportunity factors both apply. This is also true for genetic females in those groups, but their numbers are smaller (again, in my experience) and there are other factors that might get them a bit more work. Race also falls in here. While fetish people like to think of themselves as egalitarian, the vast number of successful fetish models are Caucasian (including Hispanics) or Asian. Black fetish models are becoming somewhat more prominent, but it’s a slow process. The straight market overwhelmingly favors Asian or Caucasian women (with a big preference there for traditionally pretty Playboy style looks) and the gay market white men.
The idea that people can just somehow magically “make” the markets change thru the force of their own personalities is no more realistic in fetish than it is in mainstream modeling. Insisting it’s the photographers or producers enforcing their own standards is untrue, and is far less true in this market since it’s much easier for people to produce their own material than in mainstream modeling. The truth is borne out by where the market votes with their money.
So there we have it. There’s no images because there’s no market, and there’s no market because there’s no images. Same with people of colour, or fat bodies. I know Filament’s struggled with issues of diversity because people just tend to send in shoots with one particular type of man (granted, a type that did very well in our poll!):
I’ve certainly never declined a photoshoot on the basis of the fact that a model was fat or non-white, on the contrary — there have been a number of shoots that would have been published if the model hadn’t been a skinny, hairless white guy in his 20s with tattoos, piercings and unusual hair — for the sake of diversity. But we’re also currently at the point of publishing about 70% of the shoots we receive, so we don’t exactly have masses of choice. I highlight the issue of diversity in models to photographers who express an interest in contributing to Filament, and it’s been in our photography guidelines since ever.
I’ll be honest. I don’t know if this is a project that will “make money”. This is a social justice, gender awareness project instead of a “strike it rich” thing. I want to make change. And one of the first ways to do that is to make people conscious.
That said, SLEPhoto has promised me a bottle of Hendrick’s if this project is successful. He hasn’t yet told me what “successful” means, though, so I have no goalpost from him. I’ve thought a bit about what this project being successful means to me, though, so here’s what I’m going to try to accomplish in a year- Pride Weekend SF to Pride Weekend SF.
-I want to have a logo created (possibility shown on this post, what do you think?) and make badges/teeshirts.
-I want to have at least 20 shoots put together, with a variety of male-identified models shown, in a variety of erotic ways, specifically *by and for female consumers*.
-I want to network between photographers taking pictures of erotic male nudes and forums where they can display/sell these images. I want us to band together to throw this “women aren’t visual” shite out the window where it belongs.
-I want to get to a point where male models can be safely compensated *at least* with $50 an hour because photographers working on this project know they have a market for the images.
-I want to create a situation where Filament can pick and choose shoots for publication because they have enough material.
-I want no less than 3 galleries displaying the work I’ve curated. Preferably, I want them to be kink/sex community spaces in particular.
Can we do it, you think? We’ll find out!