Michael Breyette is a self-taught artist who cannot recall when he first began drawing. Born in rural upstate New York, many of his earliest works were of an escapist nature and typically fell within the realms of science fiction or fantasy.
But as his sexuality developed, he often felt the need to include female subjects in his creations. This allowed him the freedom to paint his scantily clad men without inviting too many unwanted questions from his conservative family. He has said that he hopes his work is a “hopeful, joyful, romantic, sexy look at the lives, loves, and dreams of men captured on paper with colorful dust.”
He has been in numerous group exhibitions and his work has appeared in recent publications such as Unzipped, Gayzette, Gaydar, The Pulse, and In Newsweekly.
Breyette lives and works in Worcester, Massachusetts.
American (b. 1969)
Born in upstate New York, Michael Broderick was raised in 1970s American suburbia. His adolescence was filled with movies and television and a few of his sister’s dolls and “Fashion Plates.”
He attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and has exhibited his work in galleries worldwide, including solo exhibitions in Philadelphia and Amsterdam. His work has appeared in publications such as Men, Blue, and Handjobs, as well as in monographs and erotic art anthologies from the publisher Bruno Gmünder.
He is currently working with the writer Dale Lazarov on a graphic novel to be published in 2014.
American (d. 1994)
As a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, Harry Bush discovered his sexuality while stationed in Europe. He left his desk job at the Pentagon at age 40, and in the early 1960s moved to Los Angeles to pursue a creative career.
After Bob Mizer placed the artist's finely rendered illustrations in Physique Pictorial, Bush's depictions of all-American men soon began appearing in publications such as Drummer, Manifest, and Stroke. Although Bush became something of a recluse in later years, his work was reassembled and published in the 2008 monograph Hard Boys.
While his pencil work has been compared to Tom of Finland, his subject matter was very different and focused on athletic men. He considered much of his work to be unfinished and not good enough to be shown or sold. It is believed that he destroyed much of it before his death.
Jim French (Arion, Luger, Rip Colt)
American (b. 1932)
Jim French began his illustrious career in erotic art in the 1960s, producing homoerotic drawings following his studies at what is now the University of the Arts (Philadelphia). French was influenced by other artists of his day, including Alberto Vargas whose work appeared in Playboy for decades.
Like many gay artists of his time, French sold his work via mail. At first using the name “Arion,” he later created the brand name “Luger” before founding “Colt Studios” in 1967. French expanded into photography and produced numerous magazines that bore the Colt title. Later, with the addition of video, French became one of the most successful producers of gay erotica of his time.
In 1969 an original drawing published in the Colt Studios magazine Manpower entitled “Longhorns” was used by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood for an iconic t-shirt worn by the Sex Pistols and other punk rock groups.
It is believed the drawings signed “Colt” span just two years, from 1968 to 1969. Stylistically and technically they are very much in the mode of those signed “Luger.” As opposed to the drawings under the Luger name, however, the Colt drawings usually depicted full frontal nudity and the men interacting.
French sold Colt Studios in 2003 and lives in Palm Springs, California.
Domino (Don Merrick)
American (deceased, dates unknown)
Inspired by a lifelong fascination with laboring men, firefighters, and other traditional masculine icons, the work of Domino showcases muscled men in solo sessions and group liaisons.
After exploring his sexuality as a hitchhiker and roving worker, the artist settled in New York, where he put his fantasies on paper. Suffused with humorous touches (e.g., nude lumberjacks strapped to a log), Domino's illustrations first came to prominence in the 1970s. His work has been featured in various publications such as Drummer and on film. He pushed the art form into another direction as he focused away from the perfect body and instead depicted hairy, potbellied, normal looking men. He was represented by Stompers Gallery in New York City and Fey Way Gallery in San Francisco.
In 1978 he said, “My wish is to redo Tom of Finland from nature . . . I want to make of hot porn something as solid and lasting as the art of the museums.”
Etienne (Domingo Stephen Orejudos also known as Stephen)
A bodybuilder, choreographer, and principal dancer with the Illinois Ballet Company, Domingo Orejudos produced homoerotic art under the name Etienne, as well as “Stephen.”
Featuring muscular, masculine men, Etienne's work dwelled in the burgeoning leather culture of the latter half of the 20th century. In preparing for an exhibition in New York in 1983, he stated, “I suppose I could collect together some things that are fairly tame, but most of my pieces on hand have a pretty obvious sexual content. Would that pose a problem?” He created a series of comic books with titles such as Adventuretime, Storybook and Storytime. Some included a character known as Meatman.
Etienne co-founded Chicago’s first leather bar, the Gold Coast, for which he completed a series of murals. He was also instrumental in organizing the International Mister Leather contest. He produced erotic drawings for gay bar logos and various publications, such as Tomorrow’s Man and Drummer, which featured his exaggerated muscular imagery. In some cases, he wrote the fiction that went with the illustrations. Along with his partner, Chuck Renslow, he ran Kris Studios, which published Mars in the early 1960s and, later, Triumph and Rawhide magazines.
He died of AIDS-related illness at his home in Boulder, Colorado.
Swiss (b. 1948)
Born in Switzerland, Oliver Frey started drawing at age eight, working from the English comic strip Eagle. While in film school in London, he continued to learn to draw through a 36 lesson American correspondence course called The Famous Artists.
His illustrations have appeared in the British magazines HIM International, Vulcan, Teenage Dream, the HIM Gay Library series, Mister magazine, and at the London disco, Heaven. For HIM he created the Rogue comic strip series, as well as The Street, which inspired the British TV series Queer as Folk. With his partner, Roger M. Kean, he has illustrated and published eight paperback novels under the name “Zack.” He also worked under the name “Clint.”
The Hun (Bill Schmeling)
American (b. 1938)
Utilizing the hyper masculine, exaggerated forms of predecessors such as Tom of Finland, The Hun is a leading fetish illustrator. In his work, fetish themes such as sadomasochism, prison narratives, leather, uniform, and extreme sexuality are manifested in the artist's boldly graphic style.
Based in Portland, Oregon, the artist has published a series of comics involving original characters such as the prison-bound Big Sig and Gohr, who inhabit a post-apocalyptic world. He is a self-taught artist who asserts that his study of male anatomy occurred mostly in dimly lit places over a long period of time.
His work first appeared in Physique Pictorial in the mid-1960s and Drummer in the mid-1970s. The work has also appeared in other magazines such as The Leather Journal, Cuir, Stroke, Match, Dungeon Master, and Bound and Gagged.