Fed up with shaved, steroided gym bunnies, gay Tasmanian/Australian photographer Paul Freeman published seven books of "real" men in two series, Bondi or bush. Never mind that for about half the images, he took Sydney models to the Outback to manufacture the verisimilitude he sought. In 2011, with his eighth book Heroics he broadened his scope and began to time travel, often giving his nude subjects props from another era. He returns to that conceit in his just-out tenth book Heroics 2, which celebrates male archetypes from the original Band of Thebes to contemporary firefighters and lifeguards. Freeman, a bit of a talker, told The Lush Life the series was inspired by ancient statuary:
"Heroics was not meant to be a 'serious' homage. It was meant to be a bit ironic, with elements of costume drama and theatre. It’s a tongue in cheek reflection of how heterosexual men have always highly rated their own heroism and bravery and glamorized their greatness with these over the top erotic monuments. It was meant to reference a time (back in ancient Rome and Greece) when the beautiful naked male was publicly celebrated in art. When I traveled through Europe some years back, I took hundreds of photos of some of the very erotic male statues that exist as a consequence of this Renaissance in art, and which occupy very public places in most of the major cities. It always amused and perplexed me that the masses of humanity who rush hurriedly by these works of art in their daily commute, would still baulk at the idea of the naked male as a thing of art in their ‘real lives.’ ‘Heroics’ is just another mild middle finger held up at all those absurd notions, even though it’s a pretty polite finger. I thought by spelling out some of the themes of statuary found in Rome and London, by using real men, I could highlight the absurdity of disgust at the nude male by heterosexual men when they gloried in it in their own shrines."
Freeman is also the author of the 1997 biography Ian Roberts: Finding Out, about Australia's first openly gay sports star and the world's first out professional rugby player.