From Neil Genzlinger’s article for The New York Times:

Mr. Bidgood, who came to New York from Wisconsin at 18, was a drag performer in the 1950s at Club 82 in the East Village, where he also sometimes designed sets and costumes. By the early 1960s he was taking photographs for men’s physique magazines like Muscleboy.

“They were badly lit and uninteresting,” he told The New York Times in 2011. “Playboy had girls in furs, feathers and lights. They had faces like beautiful angels. I didn’t understand why boy pictures weren’t like that.”He set about trying to change that. He staged photographs, mostly in his Manhattan apartment, that were lavish fantasies full of references to mythology, adventurous lighting and props, and attractive men — sometimes in costume, sometimes in nothing. The pictures, some of which ended up on the magazines’ covers, were both erotic and amusingly campy.

“Enchanted scenes of languorous godlike figures in ersatz splendor are rendered with such theatricality of gesture, mood, color, texture and fabric as to parody the very desire they are designed to elicit,” Philip Gefter wrote of Mr. Bidgood’s work in the photography magazine Aperture in 2008.

View the full article
View a PDF of the article in print

Browse all of James Bidgood’s work at ClampArt