Erotic Artist Sam Morris Redefines Masculinity In 2020
By Rob Simmons
Photos by Sam Morris
Sam Morris is often called the modern-day Tom of Finland. Like his predecessor, Sam Morris’ work is stylized, homoerotic fetish art that depicts the quintessential gay male. However, where Tom of Finland celebrated men with extreme muscular body types, often performing aggressive sex acts, Morris’ work tends to focus on the handsome but relatable ‘boy next door’ gay man. “I aim to create an aesthetic that is romantic, yet sexy,” he explains. “My work invites the viewer to fantasize over the man they have a crush on at work, or maybe the one that works at the local coffee shop or the DILF they are secretly following on social media.”
In his art, Morris embraces masculinity while also recognizing a man’s inherent femininity. “Wearing masculinity as an outfit to conform is not healthy,” he argues. “Men should express both sides of their personalities freely, without prohibition, how and when they wish.”
His main message is that the body and sex can be explored in a beautifully artistic way without being smutty or cheap. “I’m not interested in the ‘money shot’ that adult film companies are after,” he says. “For me, it’s more about capturing a man’s vulnerability; photographing the subject so that the viewer sees him as a boyfriend or a lover rather than a piece of meat.”
Currently single, Morris admits he was a hopeless romantic at one time, but the demise of his last few relationships have led to him thinking differently of love. “I am open to many different kinds of romance today. I have a few lovers in my life that I love in different ways, and that’s ok for me right now.”
Sam Morris grew up with three younger sisters, a mom, and dad. He recalls a happy home, although the family was very poor and enjoyed few family outings. Yet, he was taken to see the West End production of Oliver, and after the show, a 7-year-old Sam Morris enthusiastically said to his parents, ‘I want to be in that!’ Two years later, he was.
He became a child actor, attending the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London (one of the most prestigious theatre schools in the world) and starring in several West End shows, as well as appearing in numerous television and film productions.
He recalls spending a great deal of his spare time in his teens reading fashion magazines, watching art porn, and obsessing over male models. At 18, he began taking pictures and filming himself nude, documenting his emerging sexuality in a conceptualized and romantic way on his own Tumblr page.
Like Tom of Finland in the seventies, Sam Morris had to battle the censors who argued his page depicted overt homosexual acts that were too obscene for mainstream consumption. His page was repeatedly flagged as restricted and taken down. He realized the only way to create the work that he wanted was to build his own website.
He created Sammorris.me and soon after, turned the camera from himself and began photographing nude men. From the beginning, it was important to Morris that the model maintains his own sense of freedom of expression. “I had uncomfortable encounters with photographers. I wanted my set to be a safe space where models could live their porn star fantasies or simply explore a little exhibitionism.”
Morris shoots on the models’ terms; their body = their choice. He does not force sexual encounters on them or on himself. Sex only takes place if it organically feels right and is appropriate in the moment.
“I look at my subject as how somebody would look at their boyfriend from across the bedroom in the morning. That romantic yet vulnerable sensibility that only happens inside your own home. I want to capture something that is raw but sensitive. I like the quirks and nervousness that goes alongside getting naked in front of a camera for the first time. I have no rules, and I tell my subjects this every time: nothing you can do is wrong, and you can explore as far as you feel comfortable. I am obsessed with light and vibrancy, and so these play a huge part in my aesthetic.”
Morris doesn’t search for the men that are featured in his films and photos; he waits for models to approach him. “That way, it’s on their terms, and I know what they want from the experience. The moment I start approaching people, the power balance starts to become a little tilted.”
He believes soft erotica is experiencing a second coming in the USA and Europe, the sort that was eradicated during the AIDS crisis and taken over by the commercialized porn industry in the 90s. He’s noticed many creative people posting artistic nudes online with the caption ‘Inspired by Sam Morris,’ and he couldn’t be happier. “I intend to continue to push the envelope in different areas, using my eye for beauty and my fearless approach to nudity and sex.”
Like Tom of Finland, he is also establishing himself as a leading brander of the male erotic form. His retail shop on his subscription-based website currently sells Sam Morris-stamped hats, hoodies, and tees will soon be expanding to include spirits, cologne, and various fashion accessories.
Visit Sammorris.me. Follow Sam Morris on Instagram @ justsammorris