When writing his recent bookDamn Shame: Desire, Defiance and Show Tunesactor/model/filmmaker David Pevsner noticed three themes coming to the fore: body shame, sexuality and ageism.
"All three of those are very polarizing subjects, and they are things people don't want to talk about," said Pevsner.
But body image is a central through-line in Pevsner's story. His autobiography details everything from growing up in Skokie through his work on stage and his eventual decisions to publish "nudies"a label he cribbed from Valley of the Dollsof himself that have been online staples for several years.
Those subjects "became the trajectory for me to explore what it is that you read about in the book," Pevsner explained. "It's been a never-ending journey for me to come to terms with this body-shaming [and] my sexuality, with feeling comfortable about nudity, with being less judgmental about myself and comparing myself to other people."
Once the three themes of Damn Shame became apparent to Pevsner, he resolved to be more kind to himself.
"It used to be that I had to be built and I had to be ripped, because that's the only thing people want to see, and as I've gotten older, I realize that that's just not true," he explained.
Now based in Los Angeles, Pevsner has numerous film, television and stage credits, among them appearances on Modern Family, Grey's Anatomy, NYPD Blue and the 2012 Chicago-based film Scrooge & Marley, in which he was the lead. (Scrooge & Marley was executive-produced by Windy City Times owner Tracy Baim.)
In Damn Shame, Pevsner recounts a significant moment leading to his frustration with body-shaming. He had grown a beard in the early '90san era when many gay men were hyper-fetishizing hairless faces and chestsbefore appearing in a revival of Fiddler on the Roof headlined by Topol. When Pevsner went out to bar during the show's run, another customer made a "vomiting" gesture upon seeing Pevsner with the beard.
"When you show up as you arewith your face or your bodythere's kind of nothing that you can do to change that," he said. "No matter what I had done to [improve] my body, the beard was something that I couldn't change in the moment and it was something that people had a strong reaction to, and it usually wasn't very positive."
As Pevsner grew older, he also became kinder to himself.
"People want to see all kinds of bodies and all ages," he said. "Not everybodythere are a lot of guys who will look at a 60-year-old guy like me naked in a photo and think, 'Ew, put it away.' But there's other guys who are like, 'Oh, Daddy.' I've become, 'This is who I am. This is what I'm putting forth. I know it won't please everybody, but I know it will please some people.
Pevsner had long been posing for erotic photos over the years, but his pictures began to develop a following thanks to Tumblr, which, under its previous ownership, was widely utilized by various adult communities. Recently, he has been starring in and producing erotica for his OnlyFans page.
"During COVID, when I was mostly on my own, I tried to think of creative ways that I could present myself sexually," he said. "With the photos I take, and the videos that I shoot, we try to put them on the creative end as well as erotic and XXX, and wherever it goes. There's a lot of time and editing that goes into it. With the photos, I try to find a story to tellsometimes it's with a series of photos and sometimes it's with a single photo, and I will write all finds of erotic stories, or whatever filth I can come up with in my head. I love that I have a pretty filthy brain, and that I finally chose to express it."
Pevsner said he's heard from a diverse group of readers after publishing Damn Shame, and hopes even more audiences besides gay men will find inspiration and comfort from his story.
"I think I've done my best to make this all very relatable and very universal, and hopefully make people feel a little kinder to themselvesto be less judgmental about their fantasies and to be less judgmental about where they are in that moment, to love themselves a little bit more," he said.