Fashionisti Fucking

It’s always very stylish, of course,

preceded by hair and makeup,

manscaping and pedicures,

the soundtrack from a Paris runway,

expensive designer garments artfully shed,

the Hermes scarf maybe left on,

the pleasure definitely faked,

the mess cleaned up immediately.


Copyright 2018

T. Allen Culpepper


For Maria Spelleri


In a dispassionate play Bertolt Brecht would have written

if only there had been more time, the goddess Athena,

the owl-eyed diva of wisdom, no great beauty, still

a material girl at heart, has taken up prostitution

because sex work, though unglamorous, yields ready

cash—she has done the math—and a girl does what

she has to do while fashion houses keep churning out sweatshop

leather bags that one must have to prevent the fall

of another civilization, and so, inspired by designer logos,

she has mapped out her strategy, donned her emotional

armor, taken up her snake-wrapped spear, and gone

calmly, deliberately, courageously into war to maintain

her fashionable image and save the economy from ruin.


Copyright 2016

T. Allen Culpepper

Today’s Special Feature at the Burger Bar

Maybe some kind of local entrepreneur;
he has that cleaned-up grunge does business
look: tall, though not excessively; slender
but not too skinny; wears his golden-blond
hair pulled back into a short ponytail,
but with loose strands falling to frame
his handsome, regular-featured face
with closely trimmed blond beard. I can’t
see his eyes from my place in the queue,
but I’m guessing they’re grey-blue if not
emerald green. His clothes are casual
but smart; he’s made the effort without
overworking it: grey chambray shirt
over light teal cotton jeans with dress
oxfords, cap-toe, oxblood, plain but
tasteful, well polished, made from good
leather. He’s with a friend, or just
a colleague maybe—or they could be
part of a group of four, though they came
in a little later than the other two, but
all are dressed nicely as if for work,
and all show a bit of flair through hairstyle
or a statement clothing item. Only he,
though, has the natural good looks
and effortless style to stand out
in any crowd, even the lunch crowd
at the downtown burger bar.

Copyright 2015
T. Allen Culpepper

Narcissus in Stripes

As in so many fashion shots,

the clothes don’t really go together,

a strategy I suppose intended

to draw attention to the individual pieces,

in this case, all stripes, a crinkly

banded-collar shirt, untucked,

sleeves rolled, collar open, though

the camera’s gaze surveys him from the back,

slightly toward his left profile,

the photographer having posed him

angled back as if leaning against

an invisible wall, a posture exaggerating

the width of his shoulders and further

slimming his already slender waist

and legs in the snug wide-striped

trousers cut from cotton or maybe linen,

smooth and trim in the rear, his

buttocks not pronounced, front

pocket puckered just a bit,

the pattern biased along the leg seam,

lending a rather zebra-like effect,

maybe just a streak of wildness.

The model, dropping forward his neck,

bows his wavy dark-haired head

to peer into a circular mirror

the he holds out erect in front,

to peer from under languid lids

at his own smooth face, not

as if he’s checking hair or makeup,

but as if, liking what he sees,

he regrets his own uniqueness,

the fact of mere reflection,

the cold and lifeless glass.


Note: the poem alludes to a photograph by the late David Armstrong of model Simon Nessman for the Narcisse series in Vogues Hommes International Spring/Summer 2012.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper

Versace Duo


The market for crotchless leather trousers

priced in the thousands cannot be large,

nor, one hopes, will cheap knock-offs

of them soon be trending in the high street.

But Versace has chosen them for its fall

menswear ad campaign, and there

in striking sculpted beauty stand models

Daan and Filip, wide grommeted belts

cinched tight around their hips, from

which hang the unlikely garments, useless

but exquisitely tailored from the finest

pebble-grained hide of some sacrificial

beast, the open center displaying paisley-

patterned briefs, which, unlike the trousers,

might actually sell in the shops, Daan’s

black ones well-filled, Filip’s white ones

revealing the outline of his penis. Above

the chaplike trousers, Filip, shirtless, wears

a studded leather moto jacket hanging

open to show his musculature and one

partly shadowed nipple. Standing tall,

he wraps his right arm around Daan’s

neck and shoulder in a pose that might

be that of brothers or best friends, except

that Filip’s hand pulls up Daan’s printed

black sleeveless T-shirt as if beginning

to undress him, in the process showing

off the smooth, taut abs of Daan, who’s

slouching a touch to the right. Daan’s

bare left arm hangs straight down

the center of the photo, drawing the

viewer’s eye toward the chaps and

Filip’s package, but his right, bent

at the elbow, crosses his chest underneath

his T-shirt, hand resting lightly on his

own left shoulder. Filip tilts his head

forward, platinum hair in a carefully

constructed mess, sporting his trademark

slightly menacing look, with smouldering

eyes and sneering mouth suggesting

his dominance in whatever kind of

relationship is being portrayed, while

Daan looks up into the camera, head

angled a little back and left, so that

the razor-cut edges of his hair, just

a shade or two darker than his mate’s,

dangle freely, but not looking at Filip,

who also faces forward. Daan’s face looks

brooding,vulnerable, and slightly troubled,

as if he’s not sure he’s really into what he’s

doing. The photograph itself, shot in

classic black and white against a neutral

ground, takes a strong vertical perspective,

emphasizing the models’ slender height,

elongating their straight-hanging left arms,

tracing the center line of their torsos, with

only the belts and Daan’s just-noticeable

twist to the right lining up horizontally.

Though the models’ pose does not look

forced, the photographers obviously

have a penchant for formal composition,

evident in the triangulation of lines, with

the enfolding right arms of both young men

and the shape of Daan’s pulled-up shirt

replicating with softer edges the sharp

angles of the leather jacket’s lapels

and the cotton-cloaked wedges between

the models’ legs. Only the name of the

fashion house, superimposed in yellow

capitals at bottom right, identifies the

vendor of whatever’s up for sale.


Note: The poem references a photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, featuring models Daan van der Deen and Filip Hrivnak, used in the advertising campaign for Versace’s AW 2014 menswear line. The ad appeared in various publications, including the September 2014 issue of Out.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper


Working His Look

Smart-kid stylish, half nerdy, half cool:

Brown hair a little messy on top but regularly cut,

round wire glasses on smooth face with rosy cheeks,

wearing an open lightweight beige cardigan

over a striped boat-neck tee and high-waisted

black thigh-high shorts that show off hairy

legs long and lanky but shapely, not bony,

stretching into buckled black mid-length boots—

but a look for everyone, but one that he has nailed.


Copyright 2014

  1. Allen Culpepper

Clothes Horse

Appearing in a magazine whose editors

perennially advise ‘wear grey suits’

and whose actual readers wear their

plaid shirts and selvedge jeans with

simple trainers and plain brown boots,

he advertises the latest line of Versace,

the line of his body tilted back in profile,

hips thrust forward in leather trousers

adorned with copper studs and chains,

shoulders arched way back as if he’s

leaning against an imaginary wall

(a pose that’s hard to hold when

standing, but perhaps he’s on his knees,

kept just out of the shot), so that the

unbuttoned silken shirt—its black

background figured with large, circular

images of a feather-headdressed Indian

mounted on a dappled horse, unexpectedly

bridled, and bordered with colour-bold

geometry at collar and tail—

unfurls, flaglike, in the electric breeze

of an out-of-frame fan, coincidentally

revealing his muscular abs and pecs,

gym-chiseled and bottle-bronzed,

tousled golden-blond mane meticulously

misted with a spray bottle to make him

look just a little sweaty, though his skin

looks perfectly dry, his angled jaw firm,

lips petulant, and eyes shadowed, turned

slightly toward the viewer, their gaze

combining invitation with challenge,

as if he would allow you to mount

but probably throw you. Maybe, though,

he would leave you the shirt as he

galloped off into the dull grey backdrop

probably chosen to please style editors.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper


Camera Man

Asian with a camera, but not

a tourist. Just slightly overweight,

but well turned out in denim top,

loose navy trousers, new red trainers.


With two girls he’s photographing,

probably for a college class,

on Sixth Street late on Sunday,

assignment doubtless due on Monday.


Procrastinator making bella figura

with laziness plus sprezzatura.


Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper