My Latent Interest in Men

Wen Wei Wang — Photographs — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Living in the 21st century can be tough if you are a definite product of the previous century. Since I can remember (kindergarten) I have been interested and attracted to women.

It was in my Buenos Aires kindergarten that I had the experience of having the Diligenti Quintuplets ( two boys and three girls) in class. I have fond memories of lifting up the skirt of María Fernanda. I wonder how the Vancouver school system would have handled the young sexual predator that I was.

But it was sometime in the late 70s that Vancouver Magazine assigned me to photograph live bands playing in joints that were trying to compete with canned disco. One of the places involved the Smilin’ Buddha. It was there that I saw the K-Tels (soon after called the Young Canadians) and I was mesmerized by the brutal, primal music and by its lead singer Art Bergmann. Then and there I became a fan of punk bands and I have always held Art Bergmann as my proof of the non-existence of God. If God existed Bergmann would be very rich and very famous.

Art Bergmann

It was at the Smilin’ Buddha (a now sadly gone Vancouver punk Mecca)that I noticed my raw attraction to a man who was very much alive and played his guitar with an elegant but sexy style. I was attracted to his passion.

As a fan of Bergmann I have photographed him all these years. It was at one session in the mid to late 80s when he fronted a band called Poison that I faced a man in my studio that had me confused. I noticed a manly femininity in his poses. I began to understand what all those squealing female teenagers saw in him. I saw that in me, too.

And so I became aware of my feminine side which so many of us try to dispel by growing beards, riding motorcycles and driving Corvettes. For a man who was a product of a Latin American upbringing (and who lived for many years in macho Mexico) this was troubling only for a while. After that I became comfortable in my new skin.

It was Malcolm Parry who in my early years at Vancouver Magazine who used to introduce me as Lenso the man who made beautiful women look ugly and ugly women look even uglier. I decided then and there to prove him wrong and this I have for many years. I love to photograph women.

Many ask me, “Don’t you have photographs of men?” I do, of course but certainly my files are not as thick as those of my photographed women.

One that comes to mind is the beautifully handsome David Charvet whom I photographed in the mid 90s and I wrote about him here.

Some ask me if my approach to photographing men is different from that of women. I believe in the power of the cliché. When TV Guide assigned me to photograph St. Louis-born but local blues singer Jim Byrnes (a most manly and handsome specimen) I knew I was going to photograph him wet and in a swimming pool.

Another favourite subject of mine is dancer Noam Gagnon and just about any male dancer in the Arts Umbrella Dance Company. A couple of years ago I thought Albert Galindo was so terrific he became my hero and I was very disappointed when Ballet BC did not hire him (idiots!).

Perhaps my sexiest photograph (be it a man or a woman) is of dancer Wen Wei Wang.

David Charvet

Link to: My Latent Interest in Men

Originally published at