A thumbs up for Men-Ups
The models point their toes, arch their backs, and purse their lips suggestively. “Oops!” they seem to giggle as they’re caught in compromising poses that show off their best assets.
Rion Sabean’s photos aren’t your ordinary cheesecake pin-ups, though. His models are brawny, bearded, and red-blooded men.
The 26-year-old photography student wanted to explore his fascination with gender roles. He even addresses his own relationship to gender by posing in one of the shots. (He’s the lad with the pointed toes and power tools.)
“I first began tinkering with the idea,” Sabean told Jezebel, “because I will at any given moment strike very specific poses that would be defined as feminine by society; more specifically, the pointed toe.”
The resulting set, called “Men-Ups,” has amused and provoked over 1 million viewers on Flickr. While the photos have been up since spring, Sabean told the Daily Dot that the project took off this week after he submitted the collection to Queerty.
“I never really expected it at all,” he said. “I've never had a project get this big.”
Sabean said the series has led to several new opportunities for him. He’s also decided to give Men-Ups the vintage pin-up treatment by turning it into a calendar.
“I've gotten interview offers, buyers wanting prints and the calendar, and a couple offers for showing my work,” he said. “It's been pretty intense, because of how quickly it happened.”
Sabean’s newfound fame has also had an unexpected side effect. It’s made him a more interconnected member of the Flickr community. Now, instead of just storing photos there, he uses the platform to reach out to other photographers.
“I used to just think of it as a site that would cheaply house all of my work,” he said, “but then I started to realize how dynamic it was and how simple it was to stay connected with favorite artists.”
Photo by Rion Sabean