Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

In Praise of Naked Men: Sculptor Philip Hitchcock Drags the Male Nude out of the Closet and Forges a Red-Hot Career in the Process

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

In Praise of Naked Men: Sculptor Philip Hitchcock Drags the Male Nude out of the Closet and Forges a Red-Hot Career in the Process

Article excerpt

Philip Hitchcock would never ask a model to strike a pose he wouldn't strike himself. Proof? The handsome 40 something sculptor--best known for capturing the human figure via erotically explicit gypsum castings--recently bared all for a gay men's magazine.

"I'm very grounded in the physical, and I regard the body as a divine thing," says Hitchcock, who'll be giving workshops on his casting process in three California cities later this fall. "It's a big non-issue for me--nudity, my own nudity, whatever. I don't have any real body shame or sense of naughtiness or Oh, my God, you've exposed yourself!"

In creating his life-size 3-D sculptures, Hitchcock first coats a model's body with alginate, a cold, clammy, quick-drying putty traditionally used to make dental impressions. Next, the application of cotton batting and plaster bandages strengthens the cast of the pose, 20 minutes.

Under the bright lights of his home studio in Los Angeles's Venice neighborhood--with assistants present and the clock ticking--the entire process is more clinical than come-hither. "When you watch some body put this gooey, drippy stuff on a body, it's hot, it's exciting--and it's very easy to sexualize that," says Hitchcock, who is out and single. "But I am not lying or exaggerating when I tell you that when I do this, it's not what I'm thinking about." Besides, protecting his professional integrity is paramount. "I don't want the reputation of 'Oh, yeah, that Phil. Nice guy. Great artist. But you know, he's got wandering hands.'"

Once the negative mold is peeled away, it is filled with liquid stone, lunch as an ice-cube tray is flooded with water. The stone hardens, the mold is literally broken, and the new piece left behind is sculpted to remove imperfections, glazed, and painted. …

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