Cigar Chomping Daddy with a Sarcastic Squint, Gray Beard and a Cap, 11x14 inches oil on canvas panel by Kenney Mencher (gay bear, cigars)
THIS WORK IS ORIGINAL (NOT A PRINT OR GICLEE)
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Cigars have been part of the gay fetish scene on a widespread level since the 1970s. In the U.S., gay men's magazine Drummer published an article about the appeal of cigars in 1978 and sparked a niche craze that quickly spread, especially among the leather and S&M communities.
Through generations of media portrayal – films, tv, photo spreads – society was used to the idea that watching someone smoke could be sexual. Though the mainstream’s love affair with smoking has ended, there’s a loyal following of fetish men who love to smoke and/or watch other men smoking - especially cigars. We’ve delved into this kink a little bit to find out more.
Cigars as a fetish
A cigar compliments a leather or uniform identity perfectly, reinforcing the masculinity of the gear. Like the gear itself, cigars have become a symbol of extreme masculinity and virility. There’s also the clear phallic appearance of a cigar, and to some, the ritual of smoking one has connotations of giving head.
Cigar smoking has its own mystique. Cigar smoke lingers and creates clouds that hang in the air, surrounding the smoker in their own enigmatic haze. For some cigar fetish men, the smell and look of the smoke can be a turn on in itself.
The fact that cigars are traditionally smoked by men together also adds to their fetish status. Homosocial environments and habits lend themselves well to becoming fetishized, where the chance of male bonding turning into something more physical is always a possibility. Many cigar fetish men like to smoke together, sharing cigars and swapping smoke before or during play.
Some men attribute their cigar fetish to experiences in earlier life, such as seeing older, often authoritarian men smoking them. For a number of cigar fetish men, cigars are part of power play; a status symbol for Doms to lord over their subs. Doms can restrict their sub’s access to the cigar, or use the cigar as a treat for good behavior.
This painting was done in the "alla prima" method. The alla prima is an Italian phrase that means 'at first attempt'. It refers to a wet-on-wet approach whereby wet paint is applied to previous layers of still-wet paint, often in a single sitting. Over the years, the technique has been adopted and adapted by artists from Van Gogh to Velázquez.
In particular I try to approach painting in several ways, I want the drawing skills, color, and anatomy to be accurate but I also try to make the compositions more interesting by avoiding a “bull’s eye” (symmetrical) composition in favor of a more exciting slightly off center or “asymmetrical” composition. I’m also attempting to work with brush work and thick and thin paint in a more stylized and calligraphic way. I want the paint to be thickest where the light is the brightest and thinner in the darker areas. The direction of the brush strokes is meant to follow and amplify the contours of the forms and make it feel more tangible.
The subject matter of most of my work is usually blatantly homoerotic or at the very least queer. I’m trying to ally with other queer and gay creators in representing people who are often marginalized by the rest of the world and make art that speaks to a community that often is silenced.
A Bit About Me
I was born in Brooklyn February of 1965. During much of my childhood I lived in Brooklyn, the Bronx, upstate NY, Sarasota, Florida and Manhattan. (Both my mother and father divorced and remarried.) The real hero of my childhood is my older brother Marc who literally changed my diapers, acted as my protector and as my role model.
I started to learn to paint and draw when I was six or seven years old and was convinced that I would be an artist from that age on.
As a teen at the High School of Art and Design I got my best training in Irwin Greenberg’s class where he taught me how to draw, oil paint and watercolor. I also attended classes at the Cooper Union and Art Students League.
My parents threw me out in my senior year of high school, so I earned my GED and worked construction on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was a rough time but my older brother and his partner Kirk rescued me by inviting me to move with them to Cincinnati, Ohio to live and study. While a college student, I worked in restaurants and painted as much as I could. After a year at the University of Cincinnati, I went back to the Bronx where I finished college at CUNY Lehman. Lehman is a fantastic college.
After completing my undergraduate studies, I lived in California and then Ohio completing my two masters’ degrees in Art History and Studio Art. After school I was lucky enough to have dual careers as an exhibiting artist and tenured professor.
In 2014 I began to work on paintings with a strong homoerotic content. Despite excellent sales and well received shows, the galleries I worked with wouldn’t show my new queer work, so I’ve been successfully working mainly directly with my collectors. This change has freed me and allowed me to focus on themes and subjects that, in the past, were rejected or resulted in censorship.
Things are going great! In 2016, after eighteen years of teaching art history and studio courses, I resigned a tenured professorship to pursue painting full time.
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