In October of 2009, my exploration of gay sex began. It began slowly at first with my intention being to do much needed research into male sexuality, a subject at this point in time I knew next to nothing about. Having finished my first novel that year I was about to risk losing two key characters simply because I knew nothing about the kind of relationship they were having. That may sound odd, but they were a gay couple and I quite honestly had no idea how to better deal with their sexuality where everywhere else in the book I wrote quite explicit heterosexual scenes. Something didn’t seem fair. So, that was the reason initially but I had no idea where or how far this journey was going to take me. It started with Google searches looking at different images. It ended with a trip to a very special blog created by a gentleman who has become one of my dearest friends. It would be he, through his blog, that I would be introduced to Bel Ami for the first time and two of their most legendary performers, Lukas Ridgeston and Johan Paulik and they very quickly melted my heart and taken permanent residence within my loving soul. Very quickly through his blog I would meet more of Bel Ami’s lovelies. It would be the above images of Johan my friend had posted that would stop me dead in my tracks. These black and white images were so breathtakingly beautiful, I sent a very excited email to my friend, practically and frantically demanding him to tell me who took these lovely photographs of our Johan. He wrote back that the artist’s name was Howard Roffman. He would later tell me that his association with Bel Ami would begin when he met Johan and began to photograph him, of which the result of those sessions was the book, Johan Paulik. These photographs would lead him into a deeper association with Bel Ami, an association that would span three books of his photography: The Boys of Bel Ami, Private Moments, and The Blush Of Youth. It would be through the photographs from these magnificent books that my love affair with Bel Ami would intensify, and would also solidify in my mind how very special these boys are and continue to be throughout the world.
Roffman in his own words
From the introduction to The Boys of Bel Ami
“It takes forever to fly from San Francisco to Capetown, South Africa. When you get there, you have to drive past miles of corrugate shanty towns cordoned off with barbed wire before you get even close to the lush seaside resort city. It’s a trip I wouldn’t take without an awfully good reason and that is exactly what I had. Fifteen gorgeous Bel Ami boys awaited me there, shooting a new film with the legendary director George Duroy.
George has created something unique in the annals of porn, perhaps even in the history of male bonding. He has found some of the most beautiful boys on the planet, boys with spirit and moxie and playfully mischievous souls, and he has brought them together as friends and comrades in a most unusual social club, a sexual fraternity if you will, anchored by the sheer force of his personality and the chance to become stars.
I’ve been shooting boys for a dozen years and I’ve never seen anything quite like the world of Bel Ami. I got to live it for eight glorious days last year—boys everywhere, naked, uninhibited, adorable, naughty, and infinitely entertaining. A dream come true, you might say. Well, I worked my ass off. I went there not just to gawk but to capture this magical world of George’s through the eye of my camera. Eight days, fifteen boys, and 457 rolls of film later, this book has come to be. It was at every point a labor of love. ~Howard Roffman”
(Taken from The Boys of Bel Ami, Howard Roffman, copyright 2006, Bruno Gmunder, publisher.)
And indeed, The Boys of Bel Ami, as were all three of his books of photographs with the Bel Ami boys, labors of love. With Private Moments, Roffman would make the change from black and white to digital color. For him it was love at first ‘click’ and he stuck with color ever since.
As a way to honor this very special artist, I present a gallery presentation by way of slide show in two parts. As I so discovered as I paged through these books, I noticed groupings of pictures that would lend themselves quite well as their own gallery sets.
In The Boys of Bel Ami, I found a group of photographs of Marc Vidal and Josh Elliot that were so sweet and beautiful that I thought they deserved their own slide show.
For more information on Howard Roffman, as well as his other photography books, you can visit his website here.
All images remain the sole property of Howard Roffman and no copyright infringement is intended.