"I ask them, 'How do you feel now?' 'How does your dick feel?' 'What are you thinking about?' Some questions are silly, some aren't?'Who are you thinking about fucking right now?' Sometimes I say, 'Show me how big your dick will become when it gets hard,' or 'I really want to see a nice, hard dick.' I ask them, 'If you could make your dick bigger than it is, would you do it? Why or why not?' A lot of men, I'm finding, are satisfied with the size of their dicks. Everyone has a great dick."
Since 1978, Ms. Maricevic has been doing her part to equalize what she sees as a terrific imbalance in the nude images we see here in America. Even trying to shop her book proposals around, she found that while editors might be interested in her photos of live sex shows or transsexuals, they'd tell her straight out that there was no market for male nudes.
"We just don't have enough male nude imagery out there," she says. "As a society, we're not used to seeing male nudes, because we're not given them to look at. So it has a long way to go, because nothing's changed since I started. That might be a lifetime thing for me to do. But I want to make my contribution, my small dent, to get people more accustomed to looking at male nudes and not being so uptight. They see a dick, and they think immediately of sex, and it doesn't have to mean sex."
The problem, she says, is that the editors, publishers and movie producers who determine what we see are, for the most part, heterosexual men who become all queasy when confronted with images of nude men. Looking at pictures of nude men, she says, "might mean that their sexuality's been threatened. That might be one of the problems why there aren't more male nude images out there."
Even the wide-open Internet isn't immune. "On the Internet," Maricevic says, "the majority of photo sites cater to men looking for female images. There are very few sites out there for women to look at images of male nudes. Most of the male nude sites are catering to the gay male."
At least with her own site online, she can put up whatever she damn well pleases, and won't have to answer to anyone for it. "I decided that I was going to go for these stronger images. I want to photograph men with erections. To me, I find that they're really strong images. The man with an erection is at his most powerful state. It's dynamite."
Yet ironically, she points out, it's during the photo shoot itself that these "men at their most powerful" are also the most vulnerable. But that doesn't seem to be a problem.
"The men, I find, love the role-reversal thing," she says. "He's totally nude. I'm fully dressed. I direct them a little bit... If they want me to talk a little bit sexy to them, if they want to masturbate, go right ahead. They feel 100-percent comfortable. The majority of men want to masturbate. And ejaculate. They like that added part to this whole photo shoot thing... And hey, there's nothing better than a dynamite orgasm. It's safe. They touch themselves?I don't touch their dick at all. I touch a part of their body, if they allow me to. I'll ask them beforehand, then it becomes very spontaneous?'Do you mind if I touch your nipples? Or run my hand down your back, or in between your legs, or put a finger in your mouth?' I don't know what I'm going to do. When I talk to him while he's masturbating, I have no set questions."
Maricevic's latest project involves what she just described, except in video form. She sets up a video camera at every shoot and tapes her subjects as she talks to them, and they pleasure themselves. The final product is something she's calling 101 Dicks. Though you probably won't be able to pick it up at Tower any time soon, she plans to screen it at her next exhibition, and will be selling it through her website.
"I've never seen anything like it. I like being the first. I don't think there is one out there, with very real men masturbating while a woman talks to them... You see all these different men, all these different types, all these varieties. And I ask different questions of every man. It sounds like it might be boring and repetitious, but it's not. Each guy is unique unto himself."
Vivienne Maricevic may be contacted through her website, www.sheshootsmen.com