Howard Rothman continues to be one of the most highly successful photographers of youths in their prime. He has associated with Bel Ami Boys (Eastern European young models who are selected and employed for their squeaky clean good looks) for several volumes, but this newest edition tops them all. BEL AMI: THE BLUSH OF YOUTH is the product of prolonged photographic outings in Budapest, Hungary, Bratislava, Slovakia and Berlin, Germany and the countryside that surrounds these cities. This gathering of young men is fully charged with the discovery of and fascination with physical contact. Yes, there are scenes that celebrate the push button response of touch and many of the images are of tender embracing while others are of groups of several of these amazingly perfect models enjoying each other in every way imaginable. Occasionally Rothman pauses the camera to examine puppies at play and with their mother and this only underscores the youthful innocence the models 'imitate'.
With both exterior and interior locations, Rothman makes his models completely comfortable with their exploration of sexuality. Some of these full color images are solo, others duo and others of larger groups - at play, at shower, at sport and always at joy. These young beautiful models are at times inquisitive, at times tender, at times aggressively physical, at pleasure - and always with the glow of the blush of youth. These are modern day idols, not at all unlike the Greek Gods. And they and the artist have created a book brimming over with explosive fun. Grady Harp, January 11