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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Famous Bodies Caught on Camera




Ever wanted to see Colin Jackson's buttocks? Or Dan O'Brien emerge naked from the sea?


Thirteen famous athletes are getting naked this month at the Rossini restaurant in an exhibition of photographs by Herb Ritts. Ritts, one of the world's most well-known celebrity photographers, is showing 40 black and white photographs of the world's fastest and strongest.


The subjects range from the world famous, including tennis stars Boris Becker and Carlos Moya, to the more obscure, such as Antonio Rossi, an Italian canoeing champion. The variety of sports means you see a variety of physiques, from the stout buttocks and enormous lateral muscles of Ukrainian gymnast Vitaly Scherbo to the svelte torso and enormous thighs of runner Anita Weyermann.


The exhibit's organizers said some athletes were at first reluctant to pose nude for the photos. Boris Becker introduced himself to Ritts with the words "Hello. My name is Boris. I've never posed naked and I never will," but eventually complied after viewing Ritts' shots of Madonna and Naomi Campbell.


Don't go expecting full frontal nudity though. It's all very delicate with lot of shots of arms and thighs, although breasts and tufts of pubic hair pop up here and there.


It is interesting to see which athletes have more photos in the exhibit, i.e. which are more photogenic and have better bodies. Formula One race driver David Coulthard only merited one picture - a topless smoldering look into the camera - while runner Colin Jackson gets six, Becker five and British hurdler Jacqui Agyepong four.


Some of the best photos are the portraits, like the serene Agyepong or the challengingly arrogant glare of Jackson.


Ritts, who has photographed Nelson Mandela, Jack Nicholson and Dizzy Gillespie, seems to photograph women athletes best of all. The female bodies don't seem to be shown in such cliched terms as the men's, which look more like gay erotica or poster fodder for college dorm rooms.


The organizers say the exhibition, which has been shown in New York, London and Paris, is not about fashion or about sports; it's about the athletes' spirits coming through the photos. But it is also about Kirium, the latest line of professional sports watches introduced by Tag Heuer.


Tag Heuer, which keeps time for Formula One competitions, has created a carefully crafted publicity campaign. Ritts was specially commissioned to photograph the athletes, and the new line is on display next to the photos.


But few people were thinking about the watch when Olympic decathlon champion O'Brien took his kit off on a public beach last year. Within minutes, a few hundred screaming teenage girls were watching with great delight as he frolicked naked in the surf. After that episode, Ritts restricted his shooting to private beaches.


The exhibit runs until Nov. 29 at Rossini (Vivace Hall), Ducat Place II, 7 Ulitsa Gasheka. Open 11 a.m. to midnight. Free admission. Nearest metro: Mayakovskaya.