We meet with Phil Dlab, photographer extraordinaire! 

Gay Calendar season is here and this year we added some great new ones at esmale.com from Photographer Phil Dlab. He has provided us with some great calendars capturing an authentic, natural, “boys next door” look.   

When the calendars arrived at the office, we instantly loved them and wanted to know more about the man behind the images. Turns out that the calendars are part of a website called www.bodytorium.com and run by Phil Dlab.  

We were keen to find out more about the man behind Bodytorium and the amazing images, so we contacted him, and this is what we got to know. 

  •  When did you start Bodytorium and what was your motivation? 
    I launched bodytorium.com in January 2019. It’s hard for me to believe I’ve had the site for almost 5 years. The idea for the site was in the back of my mind for many years prior. But it took some time for me to build the courage to actually start something like that. 
    As the internet expanded, it paradoxically became more censored and restrictive, especially regarding non-mainstream content. I became increasingly aware that something was missing, and that finding male nudes of the authentic and casual style that I liked became more and more difficult to find. At the same time, I was quite sure that I wasn’t the only crazy and nostalgic person out there and that there was a growing ‘gap in the market’ for a new portal where a large selection of high quality and high-resolution images of “beautiful but not plastic-fantastic” male nudes could be found.  
    My idea for the site was reinforced some time in 2018 when I reunited with a long-time friend in Prague. He was very encouraging and flattering, said that he loved my photos and would definitely buy them, and that I should consider turning my photographic experiments and hobby into a business. 
  •  How would you describe “the essence” of your business
    I’d describe my business as a niche within a niche, something that doesn’t try to exploit all tastes and desires and reach the largest possible audience using algorithms, like PornHub or Amazon (the ‘everything shop’). The minute my business turns into a big corporation and starts operating and feeling like a corporation is the minute it loses its charm. My business is naturally — and to some extent intentionally — low-key and inconspicuous.  
  •  Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind the photo’s you take? 
    I’ve been fascinated — I’d even go as far as saying obsessed — with male nudity since I was a child. To me naked men are ‘supernaturally beautiful’. (I borrowed that wording from the ‘Original Feminist’, author Germaine Greer.)   
    Just the act of seeing or being in the presence of naked men is larger than life to me. There is almost nothing that I can spoil or get wrong by simply capturing this in a photograph just the way it is. One of my young, heterosexual and extremely open-minded friends once said, “I think guys are great because they can crawl out of a garbage container, all dirty, and still look hot.” Or in other words, no makeup is required. Men are beautiful just being themselves. This is my main inspiration. The idea is to not overdo it, to not over glorify, to not change or shape men into something else, to not try to make the setting too artistic because all the art that’s ever needed is already there. I find that most photographers, especially female photographers, put too much emphasis on making the male nude portrait super artistic and the actual naked guy in the photograph becomes a sort of small decoration or ornament of secondary importance. For me, the hero, the main subject, is always the naked man. All else, in comparison, is not very relevant. 
    Men are also ‘busy creatures’, doing sports, doing work – often sweaty and in motion. This is also my inspiration. Just let them do their own thing, watch, and take pictures. Not much directing is required when guys are already busy doing something. So, I often photograph men as just an observer, form a voyeuristic point of view.  
  •  How do you select your models and where do you find them? 
    My guiding principle is to find models who aren’t models. The most beautiful people are those who have no clue how beautiful they are. The less they think of themselves as a model, the less selfies they take of themselves, the better. I look for guys who have a healthy balance of self-confidence and humility. 
    My recruiting approach is a work in progress. I started with asking sportsmen who were friends and friends of friends. I was really worried about asking for such an unusual ‘favour’, but the reaction was surprisingly positive. About half of them said “sure.”  Familiarity and trust are extremely important. But like anyone, I have a finite number of friends and acquaintances, so eventually I needed to approach strangers. 
    During the Pandemic, I was forced to recruit using social media, a necessary evil in that circumstance. But since then, I am really shifting all my energy to meeting people face to-face. So my strategy, although I am not quite there yet and still need to work on my own self-confidence issues, is to be a ‘perpetual tourist’, or as some people refer to themselves these days, a ‘digital nomad’ — to wonder around the country, small towns, big towns, enjoy life, be in a good mood, be friendly, figure out where guys hang out, meet people, talk about life, talk about our interests, feel them out, and if the time feels right, bring up nude photography. I am very subtle – definitely the tortoise and not the hare in my approach, but this for me is the polite and rewarding way to do it.    
  •  What does a working day look like for you? 
    A lot of juggling between structure and improvising is needed. In general, people are much less reliable and able to commit to anything these days, so I work my way around chaos and the schedule keeps changing. I try to get all my planning and computer work (e.g. image selection and processing, video editing, travel bookings, web site updates, calls and emails) done in the mornings so that I have the afternoons to spend outdoors and to meet with people. I usually get up at 5:00 (I’m a 5 AM Club fan); start work around 6:30; my assistant arrives by 7:00. I’m a morning person and I’m still figuring out how to still have energy for all the socializing stuff I should do in the afternoons and evenings. I spend about a third of my time on actual production (preparation, photoshoots, image processing), a third on recruiting (which includes traveling), and the rest on everything else. 
  •  What does the future look like for Bodytorium? 
    Continue to find the best-looking guys I can. Become better and more courageous in recruiting. This is the most important. I’d like to add more perks or bonus material to the site (e.g. ‘photographer’s edition’ photographs not shown before) and a few more product lines (e.g. prints, exhibits, playing cards, etc.) I also want to spread my wings and venture outside of Slovakia, beginning with its neighbouring countries, and eventually rest of Europe, and as far as South America. My main short-term goal is to acquire or build a large studio where I can really go crazy with creativity. I’ve been photographing in my condo (as the makeshift studio) for 5 years, and although I think I made the best of the limited options in that space, it’s high time for my next move. 

Now that we know a little more about Bodytorium, let’s see what we found out about Phil himself: 

  •  Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from, your family etc?  
    I was born in Bratislava, grew up / lived in Canada (Ottawa and Toronto) for 24 years, then returned and ‘settled down’ in Bratislava in 2010. In my youth, I travelled across the world with my parents, often too much, as I had to switch schools 2 or 3 times in a given year. Constantly readjusting to a new environment and society and having to start over and make new friends wasn’t easy. On the positive side, I learned to be flexible and take many things with a grain of salt as rules and people’s views changed from place to place. 
  •  What did you do before you started Bodytorium?  

I worked in TV as a broadcast technician and editor from 16-24, then later became a project management and process improvement specialist. In my last corporate job (Up until 2018) I was a “Change Excellence” consultant at a large Swiss company.  

  •  Who or what inspires you? 

Life and the world in general inspire me. I’m never bored. I have occasional minor depressions (like all healthy humans) but most of the time I’m very positive and in awe of the world. I’m inspired by wise people from today and from the past (I read books), and I’m even more inspired by ‘ordinary people’ with good hearts. There are a few bad apples out there, but they are vastly outnumbered. I have a lot of optimism and faith in humanity. 

In terms of photography themes, I was definitely inspired by British Warwick Rowers (now called Worldwide Roar) as well as the French Dieux Du Stade. My absolute favorite is a Russian photographer, Yevgeni Mokhorev, and my second favorite is an American photographer, Ryan McGinley. Of course, I’ve been inspired by many other filmmakers and photographers, such as Ridley Scott, David Lynch, Bruce Weber and Herb Ritts. 

  •  City or countryside? 
    Probably the city a bit more as I am social, but I also love nature and the countryside. Hiking and camping with people seem to combine both experiences. I definitely need a balance of being social and being alone. Too much of either drives me nuts.  
    In my photography, a naked guy in nature represents the highest form freedom (being away from social norms, not being judged, not wearing the ‘mask of society’ and not needing to pretend). 
  •  Cats or Dogs? 
    As an aspiring “digital nomad”, I can hardly support plants. But probably cats as they require much less maintenance. I think both cats and dogs are beautiful and lovable.  
  •  If you could send a message back to yourself when you were 16, what would that be? 
    Don’t worry as much. You’ll be fine. You’ll get to live out most of your best fantasies. Give yourself permission to do the things you like. Don’t hold back and don’t be afraid to express your affection to your friends. And go to the gym. It works. 
  •  Who is your celebrity crush? 
    It used to be Brad Pitt (in the Thelma and Louise timeframe, before he became very famous). Same with Ryan Phillippe. I was (and still am) fascinated by Mark Wahlberg’s masculine persona in his youth, although I don’t care much for celebrities anymore. I don’t think I follow a single celebrity on social media. There are much much hotter guys on every block in Bratislava. 
  •  What does your favourite holiday look like? 
    Being tipsy on a busy beach in Croatia. Everyone is in a happy mood and smiling, and boys are licking and sucking on ice cream cones. So far, my favourite place for this is Makarska. 
  •  If you were not running Bodytorium, what other profession would you like to do? 
    I’d be making documentary films about interesting and beautiful people (showing that they are all around us) and making jaw-dropping feature films, mostly about self-discovery and “alternate societies” — not about what is but what could be. This is still my long-term plan. 

Thank you for your time Phil and I hope our readers enjoyed getting to know you as much as I did. 
You’re very welcome. I appreciate this opportunity. I hope this interview will add a nice touch to your sites. And it was fun. It’s been a while since I’ve ‘babbled’ so much 🙂

Don’t forget to check out Phil’s work at Bodytorium or have a look at our calendars in store although Phil’s calendars are almost sold out at time of writing this. Whilst you are in our store don’t forget to also have a look at our male sex toys, underwear, fetish gear and many other products.

With love, 

Team esmale.

About the author

Team esmale

At esmale we are all about male sex toys that are essentially for men! We offer the best toys directly to your door, discreetly packaged and delivered to wherever you are in the world. esmale is a community where we share information about male sex toys and anything that is related to sex toys for men and having fun in the bedroom with yourself or a partner. We have many years experience in the male sex toys industry. This means we have the best contacts and are able to offer you the best brands at great prices!

Be the first to comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.