Willem Kok drawings|
(for details of pictures: put cursor over them)
In the eighties I used to buy a small pocketsize Dutch Gay pornmagazine called "Centurion". It was no good, but cheap, only f 9,- So after browsing through all the expensive mags like Drummer and Colt it was the only thing I picked up to enable a respectable exit. The pictures were awfull, milking out only a very small number of photoshoots again and again. The layout was even worse and the personals were getting fewer and fewer each month. There was only one thing in them that kept me buying: each issue had a drawing by Willem Kok.
The magic was not only the superb technique, but most of all
his drawings pulled me in a world of sexual fantasies that
evolved in the same direction as my own. It seemed
that I somehow knew Willem. That made it quite simple to
come to my next step: writing him. His drawings were always
accompanied by his PO box number, so in next to no time I came
to meet Willem. He was not what I had expected. Not the big
tall leather master, but a slender shy kind-of-ordinary guy,
walking around in his romantic apartment full of plants,
drawings and male statuettes in his trainers and slippers.
Nevertheless I was undressed in notime posing for the drawing
that has been on my professional mail for years and is now on my
In '93 the death of an old friend of mine made me lose my Amsterdam "pied-a-terre". Willem offered me a small storeroom in his attic as a replacement. That's how I got to know him quite well over the past years.
|There was nothing he liked better than drawing a male body. He did not mind what person was attached, as long as the tommy was flat, the nuts tiny and the cock of reasonalble size.|
|Being a lover of the world of leather, SM, piercing, etcetera, he did not judge himself part of it. He had his principles. Critical as he was about the appearance of male bodies he judged himself too old and prefered to look in from the outside. This he usually did with an extremely sharp and cynical approach.|
|He knew his facts about gay culture and leather culture in particular. Having reservations about stereotypical role playing he sometimes could not keep himself from a bit of daddying over me, which in turn was not completely wasted on me. Walking around his appartment naked to shock closeted old friends was greatly appreciated if you looked the part: He was very strict on having a clean shaved dick and ass and also was the driving force behind my skinhead restyling.|
|The first pictures Willem got published date from the sixties, but he does not think much of his first attempts now. He used a pseudonym in those days The name did not, as many people think, come from his all time greatest hero Doris Day, but from his first lover, a guy from Alkmaar called "Dorus". He found his own style in the early seventies. His hero and influence in gay male drawing was Harry Bush, of whom he still treasures a little collection of prints, but not much of his work is seen these days. We now enter the era of flares, long hair, hippies and Amsterdam's gay culture is awakening. In places like the DOK and Schakel where he could take centerstage and be flavor of the month, he is having the time of his life. An impressive group of fans of his work starts to devellop. He starts producing intimate portraits on commission. Unfortunately these works especially are very hard to trace and lots will probably be destroyed by older gays who feel troubled with leaving naked pictures of themselves to their heirs. An Austrian, Walter, owner of the then popular McDonald bar in the Reguliersdwarsstraat, for a few years bought almost everything Willem could produce. The whole place was constantly being refilled with new repertoire while Walter sold the older stuff throughout the world.|
|He talked to me about that periode where things like "Rooie Flikkers", "pride" and "ComingOut" had not yet been invented. Although there's no great body of work around publicly to prove it, this was his most productive period, where he happily gave away lots of portraits in exchange for sex, love and attention in his favorite bars. Willem produced drawings by the dozens for Dutch and international porn mags. a Respectable circulaition was reached with the publication of "Binkie's Avonturen", which was also published in Germany as"Don's abenteuer". He also did the cover and inside artwork for the first Spartacus Guides and produced the posters for the now legendary LL pakhuis parties (dutch equivalent of legendary Mineshaft, also sung about on the original uncensored 12 Inch of Relax by Franky goes to Hollywood). When I made my first step into the gay world, now over 20 years ago, I remember having seen original drawings of him in a bar in The Hague, now called the "Stairs" but then called "The Venice". Also in the then "Thermos" sauna in Groningen I remember to have seen his pictures.|
|From his own words I know there were lots of Amsterdam bars that had his artwork on the walls and in the bedroom of the owner upstairs. There must be thousands of unregistered drawings out there in gay households around Holland and Berlin, where he lived for a few years too. One of the things I would love to do is to retrace a bit of this stuff. If anybody is aware of hidden treasures or finds stuff like this in the inheritance of your legacy uncle, please don't throw it away: I would love to but I'm not primairily out to aquire them (I wish I could afford it), but permission to register, photograph or scan would be appreciated and is of great importance to me and to re-evaluate the history of Dutch present day gay art masters.|
|Willem has never been afraid to make his opinion public. In this he was a child of his time. Growing up in and after the second world war he really was a freedom child. That made him happily join in with the sexual revolution of the seventies. Coming out in those days however was not greatly apreciated in the Kok family, but that did not stop Willem. In the early seventies all of Amsterdam was covered with posters by the Rooie Flikkers urging you to vote gay. The artwork for the poster... You guessed it. Until this day Willem still feels ill at easy with his family, who will have nothing to do with his erotic artwork.|
|What people around him think of his work luckily never stopped Willem from producing what he liked and sometimes he made a little fun of the "normal" society. In a periode where lots of gay publications give in to self censorship he continues to show there is another side to this: were you not young once and did you not have sexual fanasies as a kid? Drawings like the one here try to put that across.|
|Willem was always concerned about gay politics. He could get terribly angry at the way Amsterdam's mayor and some people in Gay Business Amsterdam are trying to sanatise Amsterdam's gay public appearance. The actions of those gay conservatives are sometimes more disgusting than what they try to hide: In the seventies this poster was found all over in international and gay publications. in '98 it reappeared in Gay News Amsterdam with pants on! Looking incredibly cheap and ugly. Now if they would have asked Willem to redraw it with swimming trunks you would have gotten something. Instead they put some ink over this dick. Now everybody knows that a dick inside and outside underwear looks differently. These days they resorted to the less annoying solution of cutting off the image below the belt.|
|Willem died at his home, Marnixkade 69 Amsterdam|
friday, april 23rd 1999.
If you are interested in his work