Macho: Core Themes

The word comes from Mexican Spanish meaning masculine or vigorous. Being macho starts in the space between a man’s ears.
Throughout all of human civilization across multiple languages several core themes spelled out below appear consistently for centuries in storytelling and in art indicating that thinking of macho men happens readily on our planet. I draw energy and inspiration from these themes when I create stories and images for you.
I may not necessarily agree with all the core themes or endorse them all in our civilized society. But the themes have existed for centuries now and nobody sensible will ignore or deny them.


Years ago, I was significantly influenced by the original Katharsis website (no longer in existence) to open myself up and to allow my storytelling and artistic efforts to flow freely out into the universe without me holding anything back or censoring my own thoughts and fantasies. Such is one powerful legacy that the original Katharsis website left for all of us gay men.

Exploring the Core Themes

Masculine Supremacy

The complex social question as to whether a man should appear as and behave as a man (versus appearing and behaving as a woman) is found easily in many countries nowadays. The answer to this question is not “correct” versus “incorrect” no matter what. The question points to the core theme of masculine superiority: Many men and women believe that to have credibility today men should not appear as or behave as if they are women or want to emphasize feminine behaviors.

Domination of Men

A man can derive pleasure from interacting sexually either with a younger man or with a man he dominates regardless of age. This is controversial especially in the context of unwanted sexual advances in which men are taken advantage of. Where have you gone, Kevin Spacey? A nation turns its angry eyes to you. With apologies to Paul Simon.
The center of the pleasures felt within this theme often are how the dominated man reacts in complete surprise to how skillful the other man is sexually.


Race and Tribe Supremacy

Men’s violence toward and killing of other men based upon feelings of one’s supremacy in the racial or tribal context has been known for centuries on our planet. No solutions to unrestrained behaviors of men stemming from believing their race or tribe is superior to all others have ever been discovered by humanity. Those who believe in such racial or tribal superiority usually see themselves as being on the correct path in this life even though they actually are on the road to self-destruction.


Interracial Relationships

However, when men of one race get involved emotionally and sexually with men of another race, the outcome can be of obvious benefits to both. Those who are against interracial pairings usually see themselves as being on the correct path in this life even though they actually are on the road to self-destruction.


Killer Instinct

Perhaps the most controversial of all is when men go with their instincts to execute other men. This theme draws upon the imbalance of power that one man has over another and the pleasures that a man can feel while taking another man’s life.


Using the Core Themes in Storytelling

Let me provide a deeper dive into the core themes. This is for all visitors who want more than just a casual enjoyment of my work. I freely admit that I produce controversial works. What I produce is intended to provoke you. I explore one man’s power over other men.

Seven Contexts

I believe that there are seven contexts from which I choose as the basis for all my storytelling:
  • conduct — examples: bondage-discipline-sadism-masochism or cannibalism or selling of sexual services
  • harm — examples: castration or hangings or homicide
  • job — examples: cowboy, time traveler, sex worker
  • place — examples: Las Vegas or lunar base or container cargo ship
  • threat — examples: opponents attack or stronger men dominating weaker men
  • trait — examples: Asia or African-American or Caucasian
  • tribe — examples: gang of thieves or current/former military

Men of Power

Unquestionably, a core focus on my creative works consistently is men of power who use power to control and manipulate other men. Typically, the power imbalance is because of one or more of these storytelling elements:

* men have power by nature of their older age compared to younger men
* men have power because of their physical strength compared to other men
* men have power because of their authority compared to other men
* men have power because of how they use their minds compared to other men

Similar to Whom?

Sometimes, I get email that compares my work to that of others who are underground artists. Each has produced works depicting men’s violent perils and suffering before their deaths.

I started out creating digital images of male characters in 2007. I choose to emulate the respectful and admiring portrayal of highly masculine men for which both Etienne and Tom of Finland are remembered. See those who have influenced me and the traditions of underground art from which I learn. My imagery has been compared to that of Tom of Finland. I continue to admire both of these artists especially for how freely they expressed brutally violent themes that sometimes resulted in death for the fictional men they depicted.

I have been told that I my work has “…a Salvador Dali quality of unique perspective and an Etienne masculinity…” My visual style has been compared to that of Dali’s surrealism more than once.

I also find inspiration in the way Tagame depicts good-looking and masculine men in severe peril before their deaths.


My works typically depict a surreal scene that certainly could not be mistaken by reasonable people as representing authentic reality. If you’re interested in experiencing authentic reality, just go outside and interact with everyday people. If instead you want surrealism, I’m here to provide that for you.



Why Depict Death?

If you dislike stories or illustrations that depict the deaths of men, some of my works really are not for you. However, not everything that I produce involves the subject matter of death.

Obviously, the subject of death and how men die is of importance to me or else I would be writing stories and depicting images of other subjects.

To my way of thinking and feeling, for storytelling to be effective and interesting, it must have some kind of dramatic conflict or else it is not worth telling a story.

But, my illustration does not show actual or real death. This is a little trick. By the expressions on the man’s face, the viewer is compelled to expect that he knows he will not survive his fall from the sky.

Death is inevitable for all of us. You immortals out there who are reading this should just keep quiet. So, why not depict it in story and images?

Do I think about death every day? No. Do I want to be dead? No. Then, why do I depict men’s deaths in story and images?

I think about food every single day of my life. I especially love to eat breakfast burritos. But, I’m not going to depict breakfast burritos in story and images.

As a young child, one of the very first times I became aware of death was through art. It happened in a Rogers and Hammerstein musical. Oklahoma! debuted on Broadway in the 1940s and was produced as a major motion picture in the 1950s. This classic work of Americana has a song about a dead guy, “Poor Jud is Dead.”

Dreams (or nightmares) are often where most people process their inevitable thoughts and worries about death. Thoughts and images of horror and terror also surface in people’s dreams and nightmares. I happen to let mine out through my storytelling and illustrations.


What Macho Means to Gay Men

I create erotic fiction using 3D digital illustrations for gay adult males depicting highly masculine, macho men in situations of danger, violence, and horror. I’ve learned that some straight females are attracted to erotic fiction and depictions of man-on-man sexuality. Women do not want macho men. That’s good because is intended for adult persons who have a penis and testicles—not those who don’t have a penis or testicles but want to look at images of those who do. Now that we’ve cleared this up, let’s get to the good stuff.

I have unashamed and uncensored opinions about what it means as a gay man to be macho, or, to be highly masculine. Since I am a self-described openly gay male, and, since I perceive of myself as being masculine versus feminine, I feel that I am qualified to comment on this controversial subject of gay men’s masculinity or the absence of it.

I cannot separate being a gay male from being a storyteller and an illustrator of highly masculine images. While I do not “think” about storytelling or creating illustrations of highly masculine males all day and all night, I am constantly aware during my awakened state of mind that I am someone who is a storyteller and who creates illustrations of highly masculine males.

Because the illustrations are a visual craft that I am involved in, I find that my day-to-day mind set is that of seeing men in the real world around me and making assessments or judgments about whether I find them attractive in the visual sense. I see all males around me as potential inspiration for some future illustration of a highly masculine male that I may create. It’s really that simple and uncomplicated.


The Gay Male Image

Question random people (male or female, gay or straight) about what image they get in their minds when they hear the phrase gay male. You probably will get responses from most people that indicate a non-threatening kind of male—perhaps an effeminate male with gentle features and a playful fashion sense. Or, you might get responses about well-known drag performers such as Ru Paul.

My creative efforts are guided or driven by what I see as a United States cultural preference for most people (male or female, gay or straight) to view the gay male as a guy who is not masculine. I see things differently:

I tell stories and create illustrations about masculine men involved with one another to provoke the viewer. I have seen all my life how straight people do not like to see masculine men showing affection towards one another. Straight people will accept drag shows and comedies about effeminate gay men. And why not? Those are non-threatening. But, if masculine men are depicted in a story or images showing sexual interest in one another, oh boy, that suddenly becomes very threatening to straight people! Some gay men I have encountered also find it uncomfortable to witness masculine men showing sexual interest in one another. Gays relegate such masculine men to the pejorative category of being “too butch.” For all of these reasons, I choose to provoke the viewer in my stories and illustrations.



Dramatic Tension and Storytelling

As a storyteller using pictures, I choose to produce depictions in text and images that include themes of masculine men in peril. My depictions of masculine vulnerable men in peril have a high level of dramatic tension and energy. I receive emails from guys who write about how stunned they are to be moved emotionally (or sexually) by my works.

To me, depicting love expressed between one man and another man in images or stories is not sufficiently dramatic in the storytelling sense.

Affectionate, caring and respectful relationships between two men are comforting and bring joy to both men. I feel exactly the same way about depictions of relationships between a man and woman.

I was formally educated in the art and craft of storytelling, photography, news reporting, etc. when I worked towards earning my undergraduate degree in journalism. I never took university courses in art, however. In the professional context, I learned that telling a story is an essential ingredient if one wants to connect with an audience.

Stories that are told about affection, caring and respectful love may make the audience feel warm and fuzzy. If all the stories told in this world were all or mostly happy love stories, the stories would blend together for their predictability and sameness.

In contrast, stories about breaking up or suffering the loss of a love contain far more dramatic energy for the audience.

The man-meets-man-and-falls-in-love-and-then-they-live-happily-ever-after story is not for me as a steady diet. Such storytelling (in text or visual form) emphasizes the powerful but false belief that life turns out happily and positive for everyone.

There are, of course, moments of happiness and positivity. But, I need dramatic tension as a catalyst for my works because I find optimistic and upbeat depictions lack sufficient energy to carry a story from beginning to end (in text or visual form). Here is a recent illustration of mind entitled “Welcoming Our New Roommate” that contains the kind of dramatic and sexual tension that I often find works well in my storytelling.

When I look at the works of Dom “Etienne” Orejudos, Tom of Finland, Sadao Hasegawa, Gengoroh Tagame, The Hun, Greasetank, Ulf Raynor, and Bondageskin, I readily find that they have incorporated a high dramatic tension. I don’t see how any of those men would have connected with their audiences as they did had they chosen to depict warm and fuzzy scenes of romance between men.


Desouza’s Sliding Scale

You gotta have a decent sliding scale to “get” my perspective on gay male masculinity, so here goes: On one side of my sliding scale is femininity and behaving womanly or womanish. On the opposite side is masculinity and behaving manly or mannish such as this guy in blue jeans.

You may want or need some examples to help clarify the extremes of my sliding scale, so let me offer some examples that are available from the world of cinema (and you can rent these on DVD). The 1978 film La Cage aux Folles (in French with English subtitles), and the Americanized version in English, 1996′s The Birdcage, directed by Mike Nichols, are two films that will explain everything to you that you need to know about this subject quite vividly and with much humor. Rent them both and watch them back-to-back in a single evening with someone of the same sexual orientation as you starting with the French film. Open and consume at least one bottle of a very young Alsatian gewurtztraminer chilled to a soothing temperature of no higher than 50 degree Fahrenheit.

Here’s what you will learn from these two films:

On the feminine side of the scale (in the two films and in real life), you can find gay males who choose to behave in an overt, demonstrative yet passive manner using soft, higher pitched voices with the occasional lisp or sibilance (hissing sounds when using the English letter “S”) or other exaggeration of consonants and vowels. That side of the scale features behaviors that rely upon sweeping arm gestures, limp wrists and touching one’s own face to draw attention to emotions and emotional intensity.

On the masculine side of the scale (in the two films and in real life) one can find gay males who choose to behave in comparatively more aggressive ways than the other side of the sliding scale, particularly in ways that emphasize strength, muscles and dominance.

That side of the scale features the choice of using gruff voices in a lower pitch with no lisping and no sibilance. Instead of touching one’s own face, the touching usually is to one’s own crotch or chest or forearms to draw attention to physique and physical strength.

Using this sliding scale, I think that it is very easy to place every gay male that you happen to meet at one point or another between the extreme feminine side and the extreme masculine side. While some of you may consider this cultural stereotyping (a “good” or “bad” thing, depending on whether you are being stereotyped), at least this sliding scale offers you a way to pinpoint gay male behaviors and outward appearances in a specific and easy-to-understand way.


Personal Preferences

As you already know if you have been paying attention to my commentaries and you’ve become aware of the kind of men depicted in my illustrations, my own preferences are for the masculine side of the sliding scale (like the sword and loincloth warrior character I created on the right) for how I am and how I behave and what turns me on as a gay male.

But, your own tastes certainly may be different from mine. After many years of observation, I have come to believe that a gay or straight man can choose how he behaves in terms of his outward appearances—the high or low pitch of his voice, the submissive or dominant physicality, the clothing that emphasizes his body, the self-touching that emphasizes emotional intensity or physical intensity, and, whether he elongates vowels and favors the hissing sound of the English letter “S”.

The question as to why some gay men choose the feminine rather than the masculine side is open for a lot of discussion. I have no answer for you because I have no answer for myself. You can choose to use the sliding scale to begin to understand gay men’s outward appearances and discuss these traits with others.

There are, of course, many points along the axis of this scale from one side of the other:

I have seen drag performers (men who dress and behave in a show or staged performance as if they are women) who are not interested in having sex with other men; but, they use makeup, wigs and women’s clothing as part of their act or performance for the purpose of entertaining audiences.

I have also seen gay males who are not drag performers, but who where facial makeup (eye lashes and eye liner and lip color) along with fingernail and toenail coloring like women do.

I have also seen gay males who look muscular and athletic and based upon all outward appearances, they could be drafted this week into the National Football League.

As a gay man, whatever type of man you find emotionally and/or sexually attractive is an individual trait that I believe is not subject to our willful choice.

I believe that being gay brings with it many turn-ons and turn-offs that we must eventually admit if we are honest with ourselves.

The way psychology and sexuality work together in us humans, I really don’t see how any of us can make willful changes to what turns us on or what turns us off.

We can try new or different things on a short-term basis, of course, We also may learn to tolerate things that we don’t like too much–like finishing our broccoli because we know that green vegetables help bolster our nutritional health and perhaps making our immune system better off.

But, if we truly are turned off by the taste of broccoli, well, there’s probably little that we can do except smother the dreaded green vegetables with a lot of cheese and just keep eating.

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x