Martin Gross – male photography that was greatly inspired by the work of TOM

I was born in 1967 and grew up in Karlovy Vary, a relatively small town in socialist Czechoslovakia where being Gay was no longer criminal, but it was very, very inappropriate and embarrassing and everybody was in the closet. No chance to talk to anybody about this. For a long time I seriously thought that I was the only Gay in town (50k inhabitants). Then I accidentally discovered that the only chance to meet other Gays was cruising or waiting at public toilets for someone. But they did not talk, they were not friendly, they just wanted to have sex quickly and leave. All the beautiful men during this time were probably home, unhappily married with children. I really thought that this is the life of all Gays and was desperate.


Then November 1989 came, the borders to the West opened and all sorts of information started to flow into the country. That was the moment when Gays started slowly to emancipate and to communicate with each other and a big sexual boom started.



Just by chance, the first ever sexually explicit materials that I saw were a few Kake  paperbacks and I said to myself, “WOW! Can this be possible?” It was so exciting that I still don’t have words to describe it.


To look at these pictures was pretty much like when I smelled real perfume for the first time. Then I went to Berlin and realised that the pictures by Tom of Finland are not just pure fantasy. Actually, the art of Tom of Finland opened up a whole new world to me and I fell in love with it. When I ended my business career a few years ago and decided to become a photographer, it was just logical that I wanted to pay tribute to my eye-opener and decided to take a series of photographs inspired by Tom of Finland.