ManCrush: Alexander Abramov
We caught up with Alexander Abramov to talk about body issues, getting naked, and growing up gay in Russia.
What was the inspiration for the Uncovered project?
It was a mix of ideas in my head which I was percolating since I moved to the US.
On one hand, it was about my love and passion for photography, on the other I just wanted to tell some stories from my life — stories which I think a lot of people, especially from the LGBTQ community, may identify with and find interesting and inspiring.
I was also just missing that feeling of creating, which I’ve loved to do my entire life.
In the Uncovered project you’re portraying five different characters, why did you choose these five?
When I was thinking about what characters I could play — starting with a very full and bushy beard — I was mostly guided by all my sexual fantasies, dating back to the first time when I started feeling attraction to guys.
All these characters are seen as sexy archetypes — for lack of a better term — in gay culture. Plus, their diversity gave me opportunities to play around with my locations for shooting, stories about them, and also gave me a chance to look and to be different.
The character of the Wrangler was on top of my list of what I find sexy, so I decided to make him the subject of volume one of Uncovered.
Do you still feel some sense of body dysmorphia ?
It’s been long, tough ten years of changes and hard work in the gym before I started to be comfortable with my body. I’ve never been more confident with myself than I have the past three years.
Sometimes I still see the skinny boy as my reflection in the mirror, but now he’s only a good friend from my past who winks at me and says — “Keep going, don’t stop, you’ve got this.”
Having challenged yourself to do the naked photo shoots in Uncovered, are you now more comfortable and confident having people see you naked?
I’m not a person who normally takes his shorts off at a clothing-optional beach. In reality, I’m kind of shy.
It took courage, but I definitely don’t feel bad about all of the naked pictures that we did for the five volumes of Uncovered. No regrets at all.
I’m proud of how hard I worked to get to where I am now.
What do you hope that people feel when looking at your Uncovered photo series?
I hope these beautiful images will resonate and inspire people to be the best versions of themselves, inside and out, to live outside their comfort zones and motivate them to travel to gorgeous places.
How has life changed for you since moving to New York?
Significantly. It’s a new life. I’m not starting from a blank slate, but my life story that I’m writing now I like much better. I’m happy.
Do you have much contact with LGBTQ groups in Russia?
I don’t, but I always track everything that’s going on there. The situation for gay men outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg is terrible — but it’s not much better even if you live in Moscow or St. Petersburg where the largest LGBTQ communities are.
LGBTQ people have no rights at all, and I see no signs of improvement.