Skin has always been in, but now it’s more out than ever before. Today, many artists and public personalities are revealing themselves to sell albums and tickets. But does it work?
DJ Scotty Thomson says his career has profited from his propensity for showing skin.
“Showing skin has definitely increased my tour’s visibility,” says DJ Scotty Thomson, currently spinning big room clubs across the nation on the Show It! Tour, sponsored by sportswear designer Andrew Christian. Thomson is scheduled to bring his buffed body and driving beats to Ibiza Nightclub in Wilmington on July 28.
“I’m in the business of creating fun nights and it is fun to let it all hang out,” he says.
Billy Prescott, a TV news anchor on Canada’s “Naked News Daily Male,” agrees. “In today’s overcrowded media climate, it’s important to find something that will make you stand out from the rest. If you got it, flaunt it,” he says with a laugh.
It’s not only gay celebs daring to bare it all. Seventeen-year-old actor Daniel Radcliffe’s (“Harry Potter”) full monty in the London stage production of “Equus” sparked an international media frenzy. He’s nearing the end of his run with the show and blogs are reporting that “Billy Elliot” star Jamie Bell will be taking his place.
Blogs are also abuzz that “Beverly Hills, 90210” alum Ian Ziering, who is a contestant on the current season of “Dancing With The Stars,” will soon be appearing in Playgirl magazine.
“It would be the best decision for his career,” says Thomson. “Ziering needs to shake it up a little. Appearing in Playgirl would get people talking about him again.”
But not everyone takes the issue as lightheartedly. Seth Gold, an attractive young DJ currently headlining Playgirl magazine’s Black Out club tour, has declined requests to take his clothes off. “I know sex sells but I don’t want to be objectified. I prefer to gain attention with my music,” he says.
Gold’s position is the prevailing sentiment for many artists. But the problem, others say, is that talent alone isn’t enough anymore. Today, image is an undeniable building block for constructing a successful career.
Perhaps no gay performer understands this better than singer-songwriter Noa Tylo. He has promoted the release of his new album, “Let’s Do It!,” by appearing on several LGBT magazine covers this year in various states of undress.
“I express myself through image and music,” he explains. “My new album is about freedom — not being constrained by old ideas and expectations. It’s about being yourself and not what others tell you to be. Therefore, I think any nudity I do with the release of the album is relevant. It’s part of my message.”
On the other hand, Tylo says, “I don’t believe the media is only interested in me for my body, however flattering that may be. I think they write about me because I have something to say. My ideas are as provocative as my photos.”
A quick scan of the music aisle reveals that the skin trend isn’t limited to artists willing to reveal their own bodies. Sexy album covers are ubiquitous on music marketed to gay men. But does the image really equal sales? “It does,” says Ricardo Torres Ortiz, a gay man and director of A&R at Ultra Records, one of America’s top dance music labels.
Ortiz, who records and remixes as DJ Ricardo!, should know. His “Out.Anthems” compilation album, which features a muscled, scantily clad cover man, was the second most downloaded dance album on i-Tunes for three consecutive months last summer.
On May 22, he is releasing “Out.Anthems 2.” Like the first volume, the album boasts a beautiful nearly naked guy on its cover. “Sex sells,” Ortiz says, “especially when marketing to gay men.”
However, he adds, it is imperative to back up the packaging with quality content. “At the end of the day, the most essential facet is the product. ‘Out.Anthems’ would not have remained a top seller if it hadn’t been for the music.”
Thomson agrees, “My playfulness opens doors for me and probably encourages more guys to come hear me play, but it’s my skill in the booth that keeps me working.”
Being overtly sexual also presents its own set of unique problems.
“Initially, my dad didn’t understand my approach and always asked why I was wearing this, or touching myself when I perform,” admits Tylo. “But it’s who I am and always have been. If I was about sunshine and roses I’d wear something floral and sing about rainbows.”
Tylo also cautions that not every artist should dare to go bare. “If you’re not completely comfortable in your skin, I wouldn’t do it. It’s definitely a slippery road. Once you’ve revealed a part of yourself, people are always waiting to see what you’ll show next.”