Filmmaker seeks a few good, hairy Atlanta men

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When gay former Atlanta resident Christopher Hines left CNN journalism for filmmaking, he opened a Pandora’s Box of documentaries on gay men and body image. He’s back in Atlanta, this time on a hirsute pursuit for Logo.

Hines (second photo) and his films, which hold a compelling mirror up to the gay obsession with physical image, are no strangers to Atlanta. Local gays have been interviewed in most of his documentaries. “Legalize Gay,” “Man 2 Man: A Gay Man’s Guide to Finding Love,” “The Adonis Factor” and “The Butch Factor” also made huge splashes at Atlanta’s LGBT film festival Out on Film and other Atlanta screenings, as well as across the country. The filmmaker’s new TV special, “Loving Large,” premieres on Logo next month shining a spotlight on a budding, unabashed “big-is-beautiful” cultural movement.

Hines continues his winning streak with “The Long & Short of Body Hair,” scheduled for Logo in Spring 2013. But he needs your help. He’s in Atlanta this week through Sept. 20 to interview and film Atlanta’s gay hairy studs for the production.

We’re talking about sexy guys with great chest hair, beards, and manscapers with something to say about how body hair affects your self image. Think you have what it takes? We caught up with Hines in advance to get the lowdown on how you and your hairy self can be among the subjects of “Long & Short.”

What inspired “The Long & Short of Body Hair?”
What really inspired this film was not only the trend of men displaying their body hair, but how they are also facing pressure to keep it maintained and looking good. It’s all about men now having to meet the same standards as women when it comes to maintaining their personal appearance. We are talking to a diverse section of men – gay, straight and in-between – along with their significant others, to better understand how body hair plays into their sexual relationships as well.

How can guys get involved with the production?
Anyone interested in showing off their great beards or chest hair should {[email protected]” title=”send a photo by e-mail.”} We will get back to them about possibly following up with an interview and doing a profile for the documentary. Everyone will get a response who submits a photo. We hope to include as many guys as possible.

We will also include the photos as part of a montage in the film showing the diversity of beards and chest hair. Also looking for guys proud to show off their back and shoulder hair as well. That’s a little more taboo, but still very sexy for many.

We are looking for interesting stories. How do they feel about their body hair and how has it affected their self-esteem and sex lives? Why do they grow the beard or keep the chest hair? How many manscape, above and below the waist?

Why is there such a long-standing, prevailing culture of almost perfectionist body image among gay men?
That’s a big question that I tried to address it in my film “The Adonis Factor.” Number one, we are men, gay or straight. We are much more driven by the visual than women, a scientific fact. Number two, men are so driven, especially by sex, they can have their blinders on when it comes to other concerns. Number three, having faced discrimination as kids, finding acceptance is very important for gay men, so being attractive can help. Plus, we are very competitive with each other.

Is this obsession exclusive to gay men?
What is so fascinating now is that straight men are feeling the pressure to look good and maintain their appearances, especially if they want to succeed in their careers or relationships. I am also interviewing male image consultant Aaron Marino while in Atlanta, whose business Alpha M is booming on the fact that men are indeed having to keep up appearances.

It’s a show of self-respect and discipline for many. It also reflects a prejudice we have in our society against those we see as less attractive, which is backed by many scientific studies, and not unique to gay culture. This prejudice against the less attractive is the subject of another film project I am developing.

What’s with the upswing in five o’clock shadows, full-on beards, hairy chests and pubic areas? Is there a balance being struck in contemporary men’s culture between hairy and shaven or clean?
I think men are finally feeling the freedom to embrace their body type and are expanding the notion of what’s sexy or attractive. The hyper-media culture we live in is also giving young men a lot of different role models but also placing new expectations on them. Fascinating times.

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