28 September 2023
By Chris Chi
Sharing stories about us
Hello beautiful peoppe!
Turning 41 was unexpectedly hard. “Age is just a number.” This has been my mantra for the last 20 years. In Chinese, we have a saying, “Newborn calves are not afraid of tigers”. I was once also fearless and ambitious. That feeling of standing on top of the world seemed quite distant now. Unconsciously I started to feel its weight. Now, sarcastically, I call it “my midlife crisis”. Very often, I find myself lying in bed at night, picturing a gloomy future of me being alone. My boyfriend, my parents and my dog have all left me. The fear of being alone or loneliness is unbearable. I think we talk too little about this fear and this feeling. Especially, nowadays, we are flooded by the images/videos of the “perfect” life of others. So much so that we silence ourselves about the things that we fear of loosing and we don’t dare to say, “I am not ok, right now.” I was even doubting if I should write this in this month’s newsletter as it might sound too gloomy. However, this is real, 100% real. Looking away from it doesn’t help anything. So I want to share it with you guys. At the same time, let’s look at some beautiful moments of the past and the present. Maybe it can ensure us that everything will be ok.
Barnaby in Amsterdam, July 2020
I was surprised to see Barnaby’s photo on the post of Narcosexual, a performance created by Studio Dries Verhoeven, and even more shocked to see him at the performance, through the window of the house, naked, moving his body like a wild animal. We connected eyes. He didn’t break character. Bravo, I gave him that!
The show was very impressive and provocative, a marathon performance of 6 hours taking place in an insolated installation, a house with windows. 6 performers, all naked, take the spectators on this visual and mental journey of the relationship between sex and drug. It’s even deeper than simply sex and drug. It touches also upon desire, longing for connection, and loneliness, a spectrum of topics that we face in the modern society.
So, here is Barnaby who I met and photographed in Amsterdam. I was not sure about the year when I met him and had to look back at my portfolio. It was 2020, summer, the very first and only time when I visited Amsterdam for the taleofmen project. I remember it’s summer because after the photoshoot, we went out and walked along the canals. Barnaby told me that it’s his favorite area of the city. I can understand why. It’s really like the typical postcard picture of Amsterdam, beautiful and neat canal houses, slim and high, characterized by their attics, and bridges where bikes were stalled while the water of the canal reflect the sunlight. A perfect picturesque scenery that you want to embed in your memory.
Barnaby told me that he wanted to work on a documentary project on the gay cruising phenomenon in Amsterdam, which sounded awesome! Three years have passed. Now he’s here again, naked, in front of my eyes (without the camera this time). It’s time to catch up again.
I love love love the photos of the trip to Vrouwenpolder, a nudist beach in the Netherlands, close to the Belgian border. When I met Milton, Leendert and Juan at the train station in Brussels, it was still cloudy and windy. Magically just when we arrived at the beach, the sun started to shine, blessing us with the summer vibes and gorgeous colors..
Vrouwenpolder has something special, a quality that soothes you. Maybe it’s because how the Dutch have made it. From the moment when you walk through the protected natural land to the beach, you are already in a very tranquil, untroubled territory where you are in awe of nature’s splendor.
The boys are wonderful too. It’s the first time for me to meet Leendert and Juan. And it’s the first time for Milton, Leendert and Juan to meet each other. It’s a great thing that four of us did this little trip together, meeting from online to offline. Shy, yes, as always for the first time. Not so shy, as we still managed to take off our clothes and did some photos on the beach. We had fun, doing different poses as if we were kids once again. Walking naked on the beach, running in the sea, wishing it could last forever.
Somehow, the photos give me a similar vibe of CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. At least, I could feel it, the idyllic connection between the boys against the backdrop of the vast ocean and blue sky. This touches me, a pure form of beauty, something worth looking for and living for. So, thank you, the boys for creating this.
We stayed on the beach for a good 2 hours. When sun hang low in the sky, we went to the bar and had some food and drinks. We talked more about ourselves. There were some moments of silence, as wind blowing and caressing our bodies. It started to feel a bit cold. Then I realized that summer was about to end and happy that we could enjoy this before it’s gone.
On the way back to Brussels, I drove. Milton connected his phone to the car and played Spotify. Everyone started to add his favorite songs to the playlist. It turned to a journey of 2 hours’ karaoke. Very gay but joyful. Hope we could do this again soon.
CRUISING IN HASENHEIDE
mong all these parks in Berlin, Hasenheide has a special place in my heart. Every time when I do a photoshoot there, it’s always a fun experience, unintentionally or intentionally. The cruising scene is very active, even on the days when we expect less, such as cloudy or out of summer days. Maybe because of its proximity to the U-bhan and the city center, you can always find something going on there. I have heard about the crazy stuff about Tiergarten when the night falls, but Hasenheide is simple, straightforward and chill.
Before returning to Australia, Rhys and I, together with Alexei who just arrived in Berlin on the same morning, arrived at Hasenheide. We would take some photos there. That’s the plan. Little did I expect that Rhys would get 5 loads in the bush. We went to the cruising area. To our surprise, there were people cruising, given it’s not really a warm sunny day. Rhys, naked in his full glory, drew some attention soon. Guys got flirty. Rhys was not a shy Aussie at all. Soon he got his first load. Time for rest. We would go back to the open space to meet Alexei who was in a monogamous relationship. So cruising was out of the question for him. We would drink some wine. They would play a bit of chess. Then it’s time for the 2nd round. Just like this, Rhys ended up with having 5 loads and almost caused a small orgy to take place.
What can I say? Boys love to have fun!
WOULD YOU GO BACK TO YOUR EX?
(Timothy in Brussels, 2022)
I’ve stayed for 6 years with my ex. We wanted different things and we knew we couldn’t make each other happy. So in order to not stand in each other’s pursuit of happiness, we broke up. That was two years ago.
I’ve came to realize that I still love him, and he still loves me. We didn’t break up because there was no more love left or because someone cheated, but rather because there was too much love.
Nowadays we are talking about getting back together. But we still want different things. I don’t want to be in an open relationship, he wants to be in one. It is quite hurtful to me when thinking that I am not enough for him.
He asked me a few times if I wanted to give it a try again, but back then the wound was still fresh. I was still healing and not ready for anything.
But two weeks ago I asked him the same question. He wants to. But he still wonders if he’s good for me, if we’re good for each other. So we’re thinking and talking.
FEATURED ARTIST: MARTIN VOLLE
Une Semaine Marseillaise —- by Martin Volle
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