HAVANA, WHERE THE MAD SEA AIR PUSHES IN AND AGAINST THE URBAN DIESEL FOG THROUGH THE LABYRINTH OF CRUMBLING RUINS OF SPANISH AND ART DECO ARCHITECTURE, IS A BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. HAVANA IS A DUSTY OPEN STAGE, A CACOPHONOUS PUBLIC THEATRE. I DO NOT MEAN TO SAY THAT THE CUBAN PEOPLE ARE MERELY PLAYERS. THEY LIVE AS FULLY AS I DO, LIKELY MORE, AND THEY NO DOUBT FEEL AS DEEPLY AS I DO, LIKELY MORE. BUT LIFE IN HAVANA – ALL OF ITS COMIC AND TRAGIC SCENES – IS SO ON DISPLAY. THE TALKERS, THE GOSSIPERS, THE MOTHERS, THE CHILDREN, THE SOCCER PLAYERS, THE DELINQUENTS, THE MECHANICS, THE DOMINO PLAYERS, THE PAINTERS, THE SWIMMERS, THE SCROUNGERS, THE HAGGLERS, THE DANCERS, THE LOVERS DO NOT HIDE, DO NOT SEEK DARK CONGRESS BUT INSTEAD FILL THE STREETS. – KEVIN SLACK -
This dusty noisy tawdry stage sparkles with the scintillating youth, with the men and the boys. They are beautiful. And they have their public display too. The peacock declares his attraction and seduces the peahen, with his pavoneo. The boys, with their bodies, their gazes, with their vivid gestures, have their own pavoneo. They look you over. They look through you. They adjust their packages brazenly. This pavoneo, the same with the mambo or the samba, is a marvel to behold, a magnetic charge difficult to thwart. As self-assured as the peacock spreading his plumage, as fierce as the lion tearing into the zebra flesh, as powerful as any natural phenomenon, the pavoneo is singularly without apology.
Social networking in Havana remains face to face, skin to skin; social networking is still strutting the Malecon or La Rampa or any other street announcing your intention, your availability with your hips, with your gaze. What used to be perfectly natural before it was corrupted by technology and perhaps correctness too seems so foreign now, at least to foreigners.
My models, at least to me, are the nearly heraldic characters of this pavoneo, this sexual seduction. They are self-possessed without being self-aware. They are confident and proud too, without being particularly entitled. Their vibrant and their unapologetic sexuality, yes, their tranquil immodesty, seduces me, incites me completely and it’s this seduction, this wonderful anxiety, this brilliant mystery that puts me, when I’m in their company, almost in a religious state of frenzy and worship. It’s not just their confidence which blazes, it’s also their trust and their vulnerability too, which combine to enthrall.
Listen. I don’t want to be too pretty. There is poetry of words. But there is also poetry of body, of chest, and mouth, and tool and arse. Sex in Cuba is a natural force that bears no apology. And sexuality too is so divinely fluid and, and incidental. It’s my experience that my Cuban friends don’t want or need the labels or the categories. And I find that fascinating and enviable even. We are too quick, I think, to want to name our desires. How liberating it must be to be free of the labels. And just to live, and just to fuck. Without the labels, without the names, nothing in particular is perverse.
As an antidote to dogma, to the slow toxic leak of indoctrination, to waiting and to wanting, sex resolutely remains a sacred bastion of personal liberty. Sex has its own vocabulary of personal freedom and self-expression. Sex is neither censored nor censured. It is not rationed. There is no queue. So the Cuban boys wait and burn and live and dance and drink and, yes, fuck too. No apologies. –BM-
Kevin Slack is a Canadian photographer who has lost his heart to Cuban and its inhabitants. He travels here several times by year, always to return home with a new treasure of photos. Over the years he has made many friends among the Cuban men and they are always looking forward to another adventure with Kevin. One of Kevin Slack’s latest projects is the Cuban men 2013 wall calendar. The calendar shows the treasures of Cuban in all their glory and is a must have. Not only for those who like Kevin Slack’s work and share his passion for Cuban men, but also for those who simply love beautiful men. Kevin Slack’s Cuban Men 2013 calendar is available for purchase on Amazon.com. Kevin's work can also be found on his website Snappedshots and his Facebook page.
Text and photography by Kevin Slack.
KEVIN SLACK | BEAUTIFULMAG