Monday, April 26, 2010


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Thanks for reading BLISS! Next up...TOMBURST



Cover model: LONDON J

Joseph Smileuske


The male form has inspired artists and the ones who appreciate this art for centuries, but for many of those years it was almost taboo to display it in photographic form. Every photographer who works in this medium can discuss who they feel was a pioneer of the genre, be it Bob Mitzer, Wilhelm von Gloeden, James Bidgood, Robert Mapplethorpe, Bruce Weber, Henning von Berg, Tom Bianchi, Justin Monroe, Rundu, George Platt Lynes, Ed Freeman, David Vance, Man Ray, David Hurles, Kingdom 19, Helmut Newton, or another artist on somebody's personal list of favorites. Each of them can be noted for their unique vision, and it is sometimes easy to identify their work simply by the style or model choice in the image.

The act of creating a stunning image of a beautiful male model is not as simple as picking up a camera. Today's digital format has made it possible for anyone to experiment, but what makes an image stand out is not solely about the model. It is about the eye of the person behind the lens, and how what they see in their mind is brought to life through the lighting, positioning and framing of the subject. But the subject, in many cases, may end up defining the artist almost as definatively as the style. Regardless of talent or access to a variety of models, many photographers have proven to have a preferance for a certain type. Bruce Weber has had a long, amazing career, but he will be universally associated with creating the Abercrombie & Fitch look for men. Rundu has elevated the black male form to iconic status, and the men he chooses have similar traits. Rick Day shoots a variety of different types, but his angles, framing, posing and lighting choices are so distinctive it's as if he invented them.

In articles or features about photographers, it is often stated that they live through their work, and that their portfolios are like visual tours of their personal fantasies. Visonaries like Justin Monroe create alternate worlds and the sexual nature of his subjects is larger than life, bold and even controversial at times. Zedneram has mastered the art of in-your-face sensuality, displaying his models in intensely erotic poses that remarkably stay within the borders of good taste. Ron Reyes often adorns his models with tradional Hawaian accents, and even uses the background scenery, be it a room or the outdoors, to create a look and feel to his photographs that is uniquely his own. David Vance has combined a classic sensibility with modern editing so seemlessly that his work has become cutting edge while retaining the essence of the old masters.

The creation of fantasy is one of the great elements of male imagery, both for the photographer and the viewer, but it is not the only style or motivation within the genre. There are those of us who just simply enjoy taking photos, or watching the model come alive during the session, and in this realm, the level of trust and the relationship between artist and subject can be more instantly recognized. Joseph Smileuske is one such artist, and the love for his subjects is eveident in every frame.

It is understandable to assume that if a photographer is able to capture a specific type of image, then they must possess their own set of outgoing personality traits, but the opposite is usually true. Even the most provacative of images may have been created by an introvert or an artist who is does not enjoy having the spotlight turned on themselves. Joseph is a modest man of few words who is not comfortable talking about himself, but his work speaks volumes about this amazing talent.

Joseph's portfolio is filled with a diverse number of models, both male and female, and his images range from beautiful head shots, to fashion, from underwear/fitness to both artistic and erotic nudes. He is one of the photographers who has provided his services to the new TOMBURST atheletic clothing line, and one of those images was featured on the first cover for this issue of BLISS. Originally, this issue was intended as a tribute to model GIO from New York City, but it would be impossible to showcase the Venezualan beauty without including Joseph, who captures his essence best, in the minds of many who have pursued GIO's portfolio. In fact, every special edition cover used for this issue was photographed by Joseph.

Every photographer that I have profiled seems to have a special connection with one of their models, and you will find numerous images, often shot over a period of time, that despict the growth of both the person and the relationship that is built with the photographer. In Joseph's case, GIO is one of two models who continuously appear, the other being LONDON J. Looking at those images is like being offered a peak inside the creative process of two individuals who trust and understand each other, and this leads to some of the most memorable and provocative images in both of their portfolios. Joseph also has the distinction of winning the Model Mayhem 18+ Pic of the Day contest twice, once with LONDON J, which is an accomplishment considering that over 95% of the photos that win are of female models.

I am honored to be able to present a short interview with Jospeh, along with some of my favorite photos from his portfolio here in BLISS. To get the full Smileuske experience, please visit his website ( ) or his model mayhem profile.

©2010 - Sean Dibble



Model Credits (in order)
model: Apollo Story
model: Carlitos
model: GIO
model: Ian Nelson Foster
model: Ari Kanojia
model: John Pizzo
model: Robert Gonzalez


BLISS: When did you first get interested in photography?

JOSEPH SMILEUSKE: I've always had this fascination with pictures. As a kid I would collect pictures of my favorite celebrities and as a teen I remember looking through Vogue, GQ & fitness magazines and thinking that the people (models) and images were so beautiful & stylish. But the actual taking pictures came about when I would take pictures of friends and later play with them using photoshop, this is when I thought to myself I'd like to really to take this (photography) more seriously so I went out and bought a camera to take good quality images, took a courses on how to use the camera, saved up to buy lighting equipment & even took a lighting course.

B: Do you remember when you got your first camera?

JS: My first camera I got as a Christmas gift from my uncle, I believe I was 15 at the time.

B: When did you start photographing men?

JS: My very first shoot with a male model was summer of 2007 with Roman, who was someone I knew through work. I liked his look and build so I asked if he'd be interested in letting me take his pictures and he agreed. May favorite picture from that first shoot....

B: Your models have incredible bodies. How important is the physique in your images?

JS: Since my dream job would be to shoot for male fitness magazine one day, I think it's important that the models are in great shape.

B: What was your most memorable photo shoot?

JS: Most memorable would be a shoot I went on with a friend of mine, Olan (who was the make-up artist & art director for this shoot). This was the very first actual professional shoot that I got the oppritunity to watch from the side and see a team of people create beautiful images. Also, Olan allowed me to take pictures so it was interesting, challenging & a lot fun that day. I also had the pleasure of meeting the beautiful Mellissa Baker...

B: All of your models are fantastic, but I confess that I have three favorites; Carlito P, Felipe and Marcelo. (*I have added LONDON J to the list since doing this interview) I've always been drawn to the dark hair, olive/brown skin types. Do you have any favorites amongst your models? If so, who? Why?

JS: Well we have the same type :-) Dark hair masculine musclar type. I can't really say I have a favorite of the all the models I've worked with because of their looks but I'd have to Gio is a fun and creative model I've worked with many times. He can definitely come up with some sexy concepts & poses as true model should.
Xavier was amazing to work with. It was a dream to combine 2 of my favorite people into one shot....Farrah Fawcett & a Bodybuilder.I think Xavier made these images incredibly sexy.....

B: Where do you find most of your models? Are there any physical requirements to shoot with you?

JS: I've searched for models on, and even Myspace ect. It's all about networking.

B: What other photographers do you admire and why? Can you describe their style?

JS: Jim French is a photographer I thought who did beautiful work, he is definitely someone that has inspired my work as a photographer. He has photographed beautiful masculine muscle men and I've always thought his work is absolutely gorgeous & classy.

B: Do have a particular favorite of all the photos you've shot? If so, why?

JS: I Would have to say it would be the Jonathan Breeze milk shot. This shot being the last idea in this shoot I felt came out amazing thanks to Jonathan with his handsome boyish looks amazing physique & adorbale smile, made pouring milk on himself look sexy......

B: Are you planning to put out a coffee table book?

JS: No plans as of yet, but one day I'd love to.
©2010 - Sean Dibble
Model Credits:
model: Melissa Baker
make up: TOlan
model: Jonathan Breeze



Model Credits (in order)
model: Jonathan Breeze
model: Kenny LeRose
model: Kelvin Mercedes
model: Seth Travis



Sunday, April 4, 2010


Make sure you click "older posts" at the bottom of the page to continue viewing all the features in this edition.


Every decade has left some kind of mark in our collective minds and the arts have often been an easy way to gauge the mindset of the people who lived through them, as well as a nostalgic means of revisiting those moments for some, or embracing them for others. Music is probably the leader in terms of reaching a mass audience, and the power (and profitability) of the past can be packaged for a new audience through compilation CD’s such as the numerous 80’s discs that are available or even the all music channels on cable television. While it may be easy to put our finger on the styles and trends that defined the times gone by, such as disco and bell bottoms in the 70’s, or the emergence of rap music, thick gold chains and teased out hair in the 80’s, the task of defining a current decade is not so simple, since it is still evolving.

Images provide the visual clues of the times they capture, and it is fascinating to see how much the male image has been redefined. The number of men who go to the gym or work out on a regular basis is much higher than in the past, and seeing someone with a sculpted physique could even be considered the norm. The well toned, muscular male body is a part of the culture and no longer reserved for the athlete or gym rat. These days, even the nerdy book worm could be built like an Adonis. But the physical changes have crossed over and entered new territory where the boundaries between masculine and feminine have blurred in terms of the classic ideas of how we classify these two traits. Men are more prone to shaving their body hair, getting ultra stylish haircuts, wearing skinny jeans and designer tee shirts, spending more time in front of the mirror, moisturizing and even indulging in manicures and pedicures. In short: as the bodies got buffer, men became softer.

When you open a magazine or browse through model ports, you will most likely see plenty of hard bodies whose chest and legs are devoid of hair, and facial features that have been made-up, angled, lit and photographed in a manner that steps beyond beautiful and becomes pretty. Lashes are curled, eyebrows are plucked and lips glisten with just the right amount of shine from a clear or even tinted gloss. On paper, this sounds alarming, but we have become so accustomed to the visual in person that it has been rendered unremarkable. It is also what makes a model like Gio stand out in the crowd.

Standing over six feet tall, with a shaved head, piercing green eyes and a toned physique that is covered in dark brown fur, Gio is the masculine ideal from years past that has reemerged in our era as the starting point for bringing the old school man back to the forfront. The 70’s had Burt Reynolds posing in the nude, in all his hairy glory for Cosmopolitan magazine, and Gio could easily be the updated version, with the twist being that this man is not content with using a strategically placed arm to cover what he is packing between his legs. He is an erotic superhero from a hot comic series that has come to life and leapt from the pages to indulge our sexual fantasies. My friend, Rudolph Bell and I were discussing his images one day and he mentioned what I had been thinking. We both viewed Gio as a Tom of Finland illustration come to life. I asked Gio if this had ever been mentioned to him before.
“Yes, lots of people do the same comparison,” he answered.

When we see a man who looks like Gio, we inadvertently build up preconceived notions in our heads about who they are as a person. I assumed that he would be gruff voiced, aggressive and perhaps a tad bit arrogant, but when I spoke to him on the phone, I was greeted with a smooth, almost velvety voice, and an undeniably warm manner. He was exceptionally friendly and very open, in addition to displaying a generous spirit, along with a genuine interest in making his interview as exciting as possible. He asked, rather than waiting for me to ask, which photos I would like to use, and then offered to provide many that had never been featured in any of his portfolios. He wanted this to be my vision of him, rather than just a brag feature for himself that he needed to rigidly control. I was reminded of my feature on Turk Mason, who also went out of his way, along with offering his help on creating his interview, and how impressed I was with the level of commitment. He also stressed that no question was out of bounds or too personal, and I took the lead and asked him anything and everything that came to my mind.

The biggest question I had was- Who is GIO NYC? I wanted to know where he came from and what his journey to this point had entailed. I was curious about what he valued in his life, as well as how he defines himself in an industry that centers on the physical aspects. What I learned was that his beauty was only a fraction of who he is, and that beyond the face, physique and massive endowment was something even bigger…a beautiful soul.

BLISS: You are from Venezuala. When did you first come to the US?
GIO: I came to the USA when I was 15 years old.

B: You live in New York City now, but were in Florida for a few years. What prompted you to move?
G: My best friend Luchi convince me to move with her, some times a little change is good for your skin.

B: Why did you decide to return to New York?
G: I actually used to live in NJ before, but NY was my second home. I missed NY during my time in Miami, so I decided to come back to ride the city. And of course something else, "Love"

B: Would you classify yourself as str8, gay or bi-sexual?
G: Gay

B: What do you do when you're not modeling?
G: I like to enjoy my life doing the things that make me feel good like, for instance: spending time with my boyfriend, movies, theater, eating out, working out, being a masseuse.
(If you're interested in his massage service, follow this link: )

B: You're also involved in life coaching programs. What does this involve?
G: We talk about life in general and how we can help each other to make and achive a better life and a better place to live.

B: What is the one thing that you feel defines you most as a person?
G: My heart.

B: Each of us values different things in our lives. What are the 5 things that you value the most?
G: Life, family, boyfriend, freedom, personal growth.

B: What’s next in terms of important projects for Gio?
G: Bring my parents from Venezuela.

©2010 Sean Dibble

Coming next: Gio talks about modeling, nudity and erotic images.

Photo Credits:

Joseph Smileuske

Mark Edward Studio

Capture Thiss


Gio photographed by the amazing Mark Edwards.
Please visit his online magazine:

Mark Edward Studio

David Costa