Retired Boston Circuit Court Judge Dermot Meagher spends a considerable amount of leisure time at Florida’s Haulover nude beach looking at naked men.
Unlike many other regulars at that beach, Meagher is surreptitiously at work drawing the men who appeal to his artist’s eye. Many of the drawings previously glimpsed in galleries are now compiled and presented as a stylish book titled “Naked.”
“Naked” is a sublime collection of voyeuristic ink drawings of unclothed men relaxing at the beach. In it, Meagher, with a minimum of strokes and no colors, delivers white-hot images of skin and sand that suggest an intersection between the aesthetic and the erotic. A snowbird who divides his year between homes in Fort Lauderdale and Provincetown, Meagher describes his process, his subjects and his materials.
“I draw at the beach, with the subject in front of me in natural light. He is on the sand near me. I am in a beach chair under an umbrella because I don't want to get sun burnt and I don't want him to see what I'm doing. I want to capture a pose, attitude or the moment.”
Meagher likes the fact that he does not know his subjects.
“One man I drew from afar once last year and twice this year without his ever acknowledging it came by our little outpost last week and my husband started chatting him up,” he said. “They had known each other for years. I was very irritated by this. I decided I can't draw him anymore even though he has a wonderful big curvy body.”
Does Meagher concentrate only on men he finds sexually appealing?
“About eroticism, I don't know what to say,” he said. “Some of the men strike me as very sexy and others are not ‘my type’ at all but they grow on me -- you should pardon the expression -- as I draw them.”
How does he achieve the elegant restraint and clarity that mark his pictures?
“I work with pen and ink on small watercolor pads that won’t attract much attention. I bring Sumi ink either in a bottle or dried in a block. Sumi makes a very strong black and when diluted, beautiful grays,” he said. “It’s a balancing act, with me anchored in the beach chair, brushes stuck upside down in the sand, and a couple of bottles of water for drinking or for adding to the ink to make mixtures held in shells or bottle caps. The whole set up is precarious and the guys don’t stay still for very long so I have to work fast.”
Meagher’s husband Renato is his most frequent model at the beach, partially because he will obey when told to stay still.
The drawings defy the coolness often presumed inherent in black and white work. They instantly convey baking and basking men sandwiched between hot sun and sand. They suggest observations, speculations and passions hidden by sunglasses, while they reveal that odd propriety to which gay men at nude beaches subscribe.
This book and other projects of Dermot Meagher are produced with the assistance of Charles L. Ross who has endowed a gallery at the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Wilton Manors. His life and his novel INSIDE have been profiled and reviewed in SFGN.
Naked is available on Amazon, at
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