Men flirted and showed off their muscles through tight-fitting tank tops. Women with no shoes gyrated next to men with no shirts. A D.J. played deep beats. Shachar Keizman, 24, climbed atop an armrest and peeled off his shirt to reveal a chiseled torso. People screamed and stuck dollar bills in his shorts. Then the lights went down and Channing Tatum got naked. This is pretty much what happened on July 4 at the Clearview Cinemas in Chelsea, NY, during a special party celebrating the opening of the movie Magic Mike. A party for which Cole Nagy, visual director of Clearview Cinemas had approached photographer Michael Craft to provide them with supporting visuals.
Instead of sharing existing work from his already impressive portfolio, Michael Craft took the opportunity to set up a whole new photo shoot inspired by the strippers theme. He realized he only had under a month to get the whole thing done, but really, how hard could it be to find some willing models and a good location? Full of confidence Michael set to work but soon realized it was a lot harder to find models who were not only willing, but only able to play the part. Guys that would easily go naked for the camera all of a sudden showed a shyness being confronted with the idea to not only strip down, but play the act. But Michael had his mind set upon his concept and didn’t give up until he found a handful of models willing and able to pull it off. And so he was all set. Or so it seemed.
What Michael Craft had not anticipated was his timing. It was June and New York was preparing itself for yet another great Gay Pride moment. Meaning most bars that have strip possibility had other priorities at that very moment. Though very willing to open their doors for the shoot after June 29, this would have been far too late for Michael’s objective. Again, Michael decided to go until the end, and finally met the generous owners and event organizers of both Feathers in New Jersey and Paradise in Asbury Park willing and enthusiast to offer their participation and bar. And so, finally Michael Craft set to work.
Models Eddy Barrena and Dominick Stisi, both have been Go-Go boys and were recommended by friends. Matthew Avants, the token straight boy in the group, experienced with the striper theme his first time modeling. He did an excellent job showing of his assets. Nick, had posed for Michael Craft recently for the calendar the club Paradise put together and was ready to strip down for him again for this project. The last 3 guys were contestants for a show Michael did photo stills for earlier this year, The Next American Gay. Burnz, was the first seasons winner, Michael and Steve were in the Top 5. All together, Michael Craft was able to pull off a shoot that at first glance seemed impossible to do, in time do deliver his portraits and vision of stripper boys to help making the Magic Mike opening party the success it was. –BM-
MICHAEL CRAFT | BEAUTIFULMAG