Two thousand eight hundred years ago, enormous crowds of men gathered at the foot of Mt. Olympus in Greece to watch the best male athletes compete in a race – the first Olympics. The young runners rubbed their bodies with olive oil and raced in the nude. They had developed their physiques in the gymnasia (“places to exercise nude”) and their perfect bodies and prowess were an offering to the king of the gods, Zeus. Winners were immortalized as demigods in statuary and enjoyed great prestige and wealth. Today, athletes again enjoy an exalted cultural status, and while they no longer compete in the nude, many of them are proud to display their bodies in artistic photographs. There are dozens of books and calendars featuring nude amateur and professional athletes released each year, and their number is growing. Gods of Sport is the work of Australian photographer Pedro Virgil and his collaborators – young players from Australia’s two football (rugby) leagues. These images were produced originally for the bestselling 2008 calendar. When the editors at Bruno Gmünder saw the photographs, they immediately proposed this book. Virgil, a commercial and fine art photographer, is a masterful artist. Each photograph in this book is a tableaux vivant – perfectly framed and lit. The pictures crackle with energy, intrigue and sexual possibility. In the locker room, on the field and in the gritty, industrial otherworld Virgil created for many of the photographs, the men cast challenging or inviting gazes at the viewer. You may find it difficult to look away! Pedro Virgil has created a collection of astounding and provocative images in Gods of Sport that will take their rightful place in the rich history of nude male photography. Enjoy! Robert Bass San Francisco www.RobertBass.com
Australians’ passion for sport is nowhere more evident than in their love of football, also fondly called “footy”. In most countries, the word football refers to one major sport. In Australia, football can mean many things. Depending on which state you are in, football can refer to Australian rules football, rugby league, rugby union and soccer, the “football codes” as they are called, each with their very own set of rules. The models featured in Gods of Sport are all real footballers from the two most popular football codes, which are Australian rules football and rugby league. Gods of Sport is an exclusive collection of previously unseen images taken from the photo-shoots of the Naked for a Cause: Australian Footballers 2008/9 calendar. When developing the creative concept for this calendar, Pedro Virgil was eager to portray the footballers in a way which would reflect their masculinity and capture the natural, unassuming virility of these real Aussie ‘footy players’ photographically. The resulting images you see in this book are a selection of captured moments as these sporting brothers express their masculinity in a way natural to them: sometimes through camaraderie and horseplay; at other times in reflection alone. It is an intimate view behind-the-scenes of the testosterone-laden world of footballers; a perspective on the naked spirit of manhood; a collection of imagery which portrays them just as they are: tough, young sportsmen. As professional footballers, it could be said that these sportsmen represent the pinnacle of virile, masculinity in our society. They are regular young men from regular families who have trained hard for years to perfect their bodies, their strength and skill to compete at the highest sporting level they can achieve. They are high profile individuals, who live their lives under the spotlight and scrutiny of the media and amidst the adulation of fans. They are alpha males – honoured, respected and sometimes sexualized as the epitome of manhood.
These men are the gladiators of our times who go into sporting combat for our entertainment. They are tough. He did not want to portray them as ‘pretty boys’ or ‘calendar boys’, nor did he think they would be comfortable being depicted in such a way. A keen movie buff, Pedro took inspiration from tough guy films such as Fight Club and 300: the look is raw and dirty, the settings often derelict and dark. Also the players are were asked to fight, conceptually bringing to life the sporting combat they endure on the field. The Naked for a Cause: Australian Footballers 2008/9 calendar was launched in Australia in September 2007 as part of a fundraising initiative in aid of The McGrath Foundation – an Australian-based charity which funds breast care nurses for women diagnosed with breast cancer and also campaigns to educate young women about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. All of the football players featured in the Naked for a Cause calendar and this subsequent book, Gods of Sport , donated their time as they personally wanted to support the charity and give something back to the wider community which supports them. Like the calendar, proceeds from sales of Gods of Sport benefit The McGrath Foundation, so by purchasing this book, you are also supporting the cause. Dan Whitehead
Pedro Virgil photography & creative direction
Born in Fiji, and growing up in the Pacific Islands, Pedro moved to Australia when he was 16. Raised by his sole parent mother, Sikiti, he was always encouraged to pursue any sporting or artistic interests. He studied at The University of Sydney to become an Electrical Engineer. Music was also a huge part of his life. A singer-songwriter and performer, he toured Australia and the UK, singing with his band. He landed a lead role in hit musical Miss Saigon and believed it would be his music career which would take him to great heights. Photography was the furthest occupation from his mind. It was only when working part-time as a special effects make-up artist on film sets, that he began to observe the work of film and lighting directors and developed a fascination for cinematography. He wanted to capture what he saw and so bought his first professional SLR camera. Pedro would photograph his own special effects work using his friends as subjects. What initially started as a hobby soon took on a professional guise when he was booked to shoot talent for a local modeling agency. Not long afterwards, he secured his first editorial job for a national magazine. Unwittingly, his career as a photographer had begun. Specialising in fashion, sport, beauty and motion picture stills, Pedroâ€™s work is characterized by a fusion of mood, vivid colours, special effects, lighting and cinematography which creates images that, like a movie, perfectly tell a story. His style is distinct and it is often commented that
his photographs can look like paintings. In fact, he himself cites a major influence as being the work of old Dutch master, Rembrandt, who portrayed his subjects with such simplicity and beauty through his clever use of light. Another creative influence in Pedro’s work is that of Salvador Dali, whose surreal juxtaposition of ideas often appear crazy at first glance, but upon reflection somehow make sense. Thanks to his distinct style, Pedro is now enjoying worldwide recognition and has shot many covers for leading magazines across the globe. His latest commercial success has been to shoot the ad campaign for hit TV show, Australia’s Next Top Model. Pedro’s growing client list includes media, private individuals and high profile brands such as Rolex, Calvin Klein and Sony BMG. In addition to photography, Pedro also works as a creative director and develops visual content campaigns for clients through his production company, PV Media & Productions. Pedro’s creation of Naked For A Cause, the brand, allows him to support his chosen charities through his photography. Pedro’s photographic work can be viewed online at: www.pedrovirgil.net
Dan Whitehead marketing, publicity & commercial strategy
Inspired by his father, a motivational speaker and amateur poet, Dan learnt the power of communication from an early age. He grew up in the English countryside but was always fascinated by foreign cultures. His father encouraged him to learn languages, and he went onto to study French, German and Spanish at university in London and Valencia. He traveled, but then returned to England to embark upon a career in the fast-paced and occasionally glamorous world of a London public relations agency. He worked his way up the corporate ladder and for several years worked as a communications strategist for companies including Gillette, Ford Motor Company, Procter & Gamble, Orange and Adidas. It was within this media environment that he gained exposure to the worlds of celebrity, sports, fashion, and also developed a love of photography. In 2005, eager for a new challenge, he departed London and headed to the sunnier climbs of Sydney, Australia, where he began working as a consultant to a sports brand and was able to network with some of the countryâ€™s leading sports stars. It was at a chance meeting with Pedro Virgil at a launch party that the pair became friends and soon realized they could combine forces and contacts to develop one of Pedroâ€™s fledgling projects, a sports calendar, into something bigger. Within a few months, Naked for a Cause the brand was born. Dan now manages marketing and the commercial side of the Pedro Virgil Photography and PV Media & Productions businesses, and is also Pedroâ€™s personal publicist.
Grant Carroll production, body art & grooming
Grantâ€™s mother is a pastel artist and influenced him from an early age. He loved to paint and always knew his true vocation would be an artistic one. Despite this, like so many young people, he found himself coerced into the security of a profession, and joined the corporate world as a Commercial Estate Agent after studying Marketing at University. This made him restless, and after just 3 years, he renounced it all and decided to travel. For two years he journeyed through North America, Thailand, England and Spain, each new country offering him the opportunity to soak up cultural influences and further fuel his artistic bent. He taught himself how to video and edit, and documented his experiences creatively in film. His work as a film-maker and editor gained recognition and he secured some small commercial jobs. Despite this, he realized that he would need to return to Australia to study for a creative qualification if he was to be able to make a living in the industry. It was in 2006 while studying graphic design in Sydney that Grant met Pedro Virgil and Pedro invited him to become his assistant. Grant managed production on the shooting of the Naked for a Cause calendar, and had the opportunity to practice his painting skills in the form of the distinctive body art used on the footballers. Grantâ€™s role is now production manager at Pedro Virgil Photography and PV Media & Productions. As cameraman and editor, he specializes in producing film content. He also manages grooming, make-up and styling.
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