Friday, February 21, 2014
In the 1970s and ’80s, when the thick envelope arrived, marked with only a Studio City post office box, guys on the Colt Studio mailing list knew they were in for a rare treat: the monthly care package of advertising fliers featuring, hands down, the biggest, ruggedest, hairiest, handsomest men on earth. Jim French (a.k.a. Rip Colt) got his start in Greenwich Village in 1967, when primping and waxing were suddenly the only crimes in male nude photography. First in gritty New York and then in sunny Southern California, where he moved in 1974, he and his naturally handsome men helped define the gay male imagery of the ’70s, combining excellent photography with muscular, no-holds-barred sensuality. His studio’s publications like and showcased the best of his work in slick, well-produced larger formats, that kept many young men like yours truly occupied through the first two decades post-Stonewall. French continued producing excellent films, photos and magazines with a carefully selected stable of handsome models, right up until he sold the studio in 2003. French’s work was presented beautifully in the 2011 hardcover art book(Gmünder), edited by preeminent photography collector Robert Mainardi and Jim French himself.