Once On This Island


By Tim Murphy

Tom Bianchi, the gay erotic photographer who's now 63 and lives in Palm Springs, remembers the first time he photographed a naked man. It was 1975; he was a young lawyer for Columbia Pictures in New York City, and a week or so after Labor Day he went out to the quieted-down Fire Island Pines to recover from hernia surgery. He brought along a then-new-to-the-market Polaroid SX-70 he'd been given at work. A newcomer to the camera, he was taking pictures of shells on the beach when 'this guy whom I'd often seen at my gym in Manhattan -- a demigod, V-shaped torso, beautifully muscled -- stopped and said, 'What are you taking pictures of?' ' Bianchi recalls. 'I showed him, and he looked at me and said, 'You should take me back to your house to make dirty pictures.' It was, like, Be still, my heart. I told him his invite couldn't have come at a worse time, that I had stitches and they'd shaved my crotch. He said, 'You have a shaved crotch? I think that's hot.' ' They went back to Bianchi's house, and Bianchi snapped all afternoon. They had 'very panicky, hot sex, because I was afraid I was going to burst my stitches,' then the guy left. 'I never saw him again,' says Bianchi, 'but he was the guardian angel who called me forth.'