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If you just realized it’s a new year and are in need of a calendar to get you through 2013, photographer Kevin Slack has what could be the hottest 12 months of men on the market. Based out of Canada, Slack has been visiting Cuba since 2000, and photographing the island nation’s hottest men. His passion for the country and it’s hunks is evident in his work, and sounds familiar to those of us who have a similar love for Thailand.

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“It’s an open theater. A beautiful disaster. I get off the plane and the smell of it comes at me like an old lover. It wakes up my body and my soul and my mind. And I am always inspired. In fact, I find it hard to let a day, an hour go by. I am manic, really, in Cuba. It is clearly flawed but I love it better for its flaws,” he says. “ I love the joy of life I see everywhere. I try to tell my Cuban friends that in Canada, it’s cold and grey and we hide in our houses and we don’t know our neighbors and we work and we work and we talk about celebrities and mortgages. But in Cuba, there is theater everywhere. There are people everywhere. There is joy and beauty everywhere. And at least as far as I can see, they know how to live, they know how to love, they dance and drink and smoke and fuck and celebrate life.”

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His comments about how Cuban men view gay sex sounds familiar too. “Among the more macho, there is still very much the notion in Cuba of maricon and bugarron; you are not really gay unless you are a bottom, unless you are passive. But there is also a delightful fluidity of sexuality,” says Slack. “ I have been at parties with guys who were mostly straight, guys who were mostly gay, and guys who were firmly in the middle. And, at least as far as I could tell, nobody really cared. And I find that fascinating and so refreshing. We name things to tell them apart and keep them distinct: gay, straight, bi. At least according to my experiences, Cuba is much less concerned with those sort of social distinctions.”

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Slack says he finds most of his models – including 6 separate sets of twins – by just walking down the streets of Havana. “In which case, I stop them, and introduce myself in barely sufficient Spanish and tell them I am a photographer and show them samples of my work and ask them if they are interested,” he says.

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As much as he loves Cuba and its men, Slack says it is still difficult for him to grasp the country’s soul. “I can try. And I try. I can want to. And I do. But I will inevitably fail,” he says. “ I can learn the language. I can study salsa. I can read Cuban writers. I can make Cuban friends. But in the end, I will fail, because I am outside of it. And even if I had the means to live there now – and believe me I would if I could – I could try harder; and I would still fail. Because my perspective is already and incontrovertibly the perspective of an outsider, an extranero. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to; and it doesn’t mean that I won’t stop trying.”

His calendar, Cuban Men 2013, is available on line at his website.

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