THE BEAUTIFUL BOYFRIEND Jeff Palmer has been the great innovator in the portrayal of men with their clothes off. In his photographs the nude male has transited from being an archetype and a symbol to a human being. At one time naked men were only seen in purported “Health” and “Art” magazines and, sometimes, there was a book or magazine under the counter with pornographic pictures, too. Then all that changed when the Supreme Court of the U.S. decided men’s bodies stripped were not obscene in 1968. Quickly naked men appeared in magazines and books, but they were still archetypal in their depiction. More like the Greek statues that inspired them than real people. They were perfect and they were symbolic. They weren’t real and we the viewers were never going to know them. Jeff Palmer changed all that. In his photographs men were clearly individuals. Each had a personality. We could imagine meeting them. One of them could even become a beautiful boyfriend. That changed everything. Now gay men no longer felt shut out and shut away from the perfect and unattainable world seen in photographs. These were real guys you might meet at work or on a bus or sitting right next to you on a plane. Life was flooded with hope. And many men were inspired to look like the men in Jeff Palmer photos. They got off the couch and went to the gym. Through his books and calendars and fine art, many done in support of people with aids, Jeff Palmer has never lost his way. Picture after picture, man after man, splendid though they may be in body and body parts, they are always real. We can imagine what they are thinking. We can anticipate their speaking to us. This has been a great contribution to the world of the male nude. And it has expanded our own worlds. Many have followed in the footsteps of Jeff Palmer. But only he has filled them.