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Comin' At Ya!

The Homoerotic 3-D Photographs of Denny Denfield

by David L. Chapman & Thomas Waugh

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gay studies, erotica
list price: $31.95
category: Social Science
published: 2007
publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press

An amazing collection of full-colour, sexually explicit 3-D photographs of men taken in the early 1950s by Denny Denfield, an amateur physique photographer in California who worked as an accountant for the US Army. Denfield's photographs, never distributed publicly given their illegality at the time, display a skill, wit, and daring rarely seen, and with their rich Kodachrome colours and mid-century decors, can now be appreciated for their rogueish, almost naïve charm.

The accompanying narrative by David L. Chapman, from whose own private collection these photographs appear, sheds fascinating light on Denfield's secret life and work (stereography had been invented in 1850, but the advent of a compact, easy-to-use 3-D camera in 1947 allowed amateurs like Denfield to produce their own). And a narrative by acclaimed Montreal writer and scholar Thomas Waugh (Lust Unearthed, Out/Lines, Gay Art: A Historic Collection) places Denfield's work in the historical context of homoerotic photography over the last century.

The 3-D photographs are comprised of dual images which "come alive" when viewed through the 3-D glasses, supplied with the book. Equal parts kitschy, informed, and sexy, Comin' at Ya! is a collection that is both fun and historically fascinating.

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Editorial Reviews

Looking at [these photographs] in this new volume allows us to see precursors to the modern age of gay male pornography, but there is something more than that here: sheer beauty.... The true value of a book like this is that many of us have never been aware of the work of the photographer. Now we have a beautiful book which contains beautiful and exciting photographs that might have been lost to us forever.
-Eureka Pride (Eureka Springs, Arkansas)

— Eureka Pride

Fun and entertaining.
-New Gay Travel Guide (newgaytravelguide.com)

— New Gay Travel Guide

Viewed through 3-D glasses (each volume includes a sturdy pair), the photos and their impressive illusion of depth may prove titillating for many. Despite the allure, I found myself scrutinizing these strangers and the tableaus in which they stood, sprawled or reclined, wondering about the queer lives led in a bygone era.
-Xtra! West

— Xtra! West

What's really fun and fascinating are the vintage pictures from the '50s by Denfield of men in swim trunks large enough to be diapers, or posing on craggy rocks in the nude.... The perfect coffee table book. .
-HX Magazine (New York)

— HX Magazine

This resurrection of lost queer physique photography is a clever and rewarding blend of packaging and content.... The pictures are a voyeur's delight; the text by Chapman and Waugh give this book historical heft.
-Richard Labonte, Bookmarks

— Bookmarks

An amazing collection of full-color, explicit 3-D photos of men.... Chapman and Waugh have rescued Denfield's art and brought it right into your living room.
-Out Front Colorado

— Out Front Colorado

This new book of photographs is remarkable in a number of ways.... That fifty years later, the subjects still have the powers to get the hormones flowing attests, perhaps, to the universality of male beauty and desire over time and place. But they also reveal a world so different from our own in style: that paradoxically straightlaced but voluptuous world of America in the 50s.
-Gay & Lesbian Review

— Gay & Lesbian Review

In comparison with the erotic images so readily available today, the Denfield photos may appear tame and old-fashioned. Yet, for their time, they were amazingly bold and they still retain an air of titillation, the excitement of the forbidden. Comin' at Ya! gathers together a series of colourful visual artifacts from our past.

— Wayves

Comin' at Ya! does away with the myth that the 1950s were boring. The enclosed glasses merge the dual pictures for maximum effect.
-The Tyee (thetyee.ca)

— The Tyee

Our present favorite, by title and packaging alone, is Comin' at Ya!, which includes 3-D glasses! The beefcake takes you back to the day of Farley Granger, Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, and wild, wild parties in Malibu.
-Seattle Weekly

— Seattle Weekly

A surprisingly classy book about an overlooked part of gay history, male physique modeling as a cover for gay erotica in the 1950s.... The naked men that fill each page are brought to startling life.... The photographs really are stunning. Their importance is discussed in the two essays, both of which prove to be enlightening, and provide a portrait of the private man behind the lens.
-EDGE Boston

— EDGE Boston

One of the most esthetically curious and impressive titles I found was Comin' at Ya! It's amazing that it exists, when you consider the risks that Denfield took shooting these pictures in the 1950s and 60s. And you can't help but revel in the social history captured here.
-Vancouver Sun

— Vancouver Sun

Denfield's stereoviews - meant to be viewed through 3-D glasses, a sturdy plastic pair of which are provided with the book - don't just spontaneously step outside the sucked-in abs and strained muscles of physique pictorials into occasional messy, drunken hardcore. More successfully, they venture into atmospheric realms. This is especially the case in photos taken at Baker Beach and the nearby woods: rock formations and sun-dappled tree trunks and branches dramatically play off and sometimes even overshadow the human subjects. Furtiveness and a potent melancholic experience of the ephemeral are built into this adult version of the childhood ViewMaster experience.... Denfield's stereoview work might be richest when viewed as a light West Coast - with an emphasis on the coastal - answer to Alvin Baltrop's gay lib-era photos of the piers in New York. Both photographers took their vision to the literal edges of America.
-San Francisco Bay Guardian

— San Francisco Bay Guardian
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About the Authors

David L. Chapman

David L. Chapman is the author of twelve books on male photography and bodybuilding, including American Hunks (Arsenal, 2009), Comin' at Ya!: The Homoerotic 3D Photographs of Denny Denfield (Arsenal, 2007), Adonis: The Male Physique Pin-up, and two other books on Denny Denfield. He lives in Seattle.

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Thomas Waugh

Thomas Waugh is the award-winning author or co-author of numerous books, including five for Arsenal Pulp Press: Out/Lines, Lust Unearthed, Montreal Main: A Queer Film Classic (with Jason Garrison), Comin' At Ya! (with David L. Chapman), and Gay Art: A Historic Collection (with Felix Lance Falkon). His other books include Hard to Imagine, The Fruit Machine, The Romance of Transgression in Canada, and The Perils of Pedagogy: The Works of John Greyson. He is co-editor (with Matthew Hays) of Queer Film Classics, a series of monographs for Arsenal Pulp Press on classic LGBTQ films; titles in the series include Paris Is Burning, Strangers on a Train, Law of Desire, and Female Trouble. He is Professor Emeritus at Concordia University in Montreal,where founded the Concordia program in sexuality studies, the Concordia HIV/AIDS Project, and Queer Media Database Canada Quebec (mediaqueer.ca).

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