Over the last decade the porn studio Bel Ami has become a byword for an Eastern European twink factory among those au fait with gay porn, churning out flawless Slavs with hard abs and harder co*ks. Based in Prague, but with filming locations in Slovakia and Hungary as well, Bel Ami specialises in a clean-cut, high-spec image replete with frolicking young bucks. But let’s just pause and consider what we mean by “Eastern European twink.”

In gay nomenclature, a twink is a boyish-looking, slender male with little or no body hair, either by DNA or by design. Cute rather than handsome, soft rather than hard, he can appear more feminine than masculine. Think Eddie Redmayne, the younger Sean Paul Lockhart, and Chris Colfer. In gay porn, the twink has become something of an icon, usually positioned as a bottom boy and desired by more dominant males.

Of course, there are exceptions to this definition. Some boys are incurable ectomorphs and simply by virtue of their build are mistakenly called a twink, when neither their look nor their personality could be described as properly “twinky”. Think Ben Whishaw, Justin Bieber, and Andrew Garfield.

And what about Eastern Europe? The tendency in the West is to refer to anything that was once in the Eastern Bloc as Eastern Europe, which therefore includes countries like the Czech Republic as well as Russia. But this is a mistake on many levels. The World Factbook declares Eastern Europe to consist of the Baltic states, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and Russia. Southeastern Europe consists of the former Yugoslav nations as well as Bulgaria and European Turkey. Whereas many of us, including most of gay porn culture, would slot the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary into Eastern Europe as well, these countries are more aptly positioned in Central Europe.

The concept of Central Europe has historical precedent as well. Large parts of current Central Europe were part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire or Mitteleuropa. People whose origins are in these countries sometimes get irritated when Westerners refer to them as Eastern Europeans. Their culture, much of it rooted in Roman Catholicism (and for some, in Protestantism), has historically (apart from the Soviet era) looked more to the West than to the East.

In short, then, Central Europe encompasses the Catholic, Protestant, and Western Slavs; Eastern Europe, by contrast, embraces the Orthodox Eastern Slavs, as well as pockets of Romanians, Serbs, Moldovans, Bulgarians, and others, depending on whether you wish to have a separate territory called Southeastern Europe, to embrace the Southern Slavs.

To set the record straight, Bel Ami is firmly Central European. Its aesthetic draws on the Central European and quite recently, on the pervasiveness of Roman Catholicism in its life and heritage. The studio’s models are mostly collected from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. Of all the Slavs, the Western Slavs are best represented by Bel Ami. But undoubtedly, like many people east of Germany, no single ethnicity will uniformly predominate in a single person, so mixed are their ancestries likely to be because of recent and historic migrations and intermarriage. But prominent will be a mix of the Central European peoples – East German, Czech, Slovak, Austrian, Polish, and Hungarian. Bel Ami’s boys are strong, muscled, masculine jocks. There are no docile skinny twinks here. Even its ostensibly twinky Kinky Angels niche features boys who are more bros than cute BFFs.

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So what, then, is an Eastern European twink, if not a Bel Ami boy? An Eastern European twink will be one or a mix of Eastern and perhaps Southern Slav ethnicities, possibly combining non-Slav aspects too, such as Baltic, Romanian, and other Russian elements. In any case, he will look “Eastern” to Western eyes. With little or no muscle and body hair, such a male will be thin, boyish, with floppy East Slav hair, typical in Russians – very straight and ash blonde-brown. Tall or short, he might have a sweet smile, be quite shy, and certainly not very masculine. He might be a born bottom boy, although of course, he needn’t be.

In short, online Eastern European twinks are really found in such gay porn studios as RUTwinks and Beautiful Twinks, which purportedly comply with 18 U.S.C 2257 Record-Keeping Requirements. Models such as Bad Boy Ton, Alex Vase, Sasha Peterson (a Russian-born American), and Zaki from Beautiful Twinks are representative of this kind of boy. Ton, at least, is now in his late twenties, also proving that twinky is not synonymous with biological age, but rather with body and personality, with someone’s “look.” Indeed, Eastern European twinks sometimes seem to remain in a state of perpetual boyishness.

So the next time somebody combines Bel Ami, Eastern European, and twink in the same breath, it might be time to change the way we think about gay boys coming from east of Germany; it’s a more complex picture, and it’s time that the beauty of really Eastern European twinks was celebrated, instead of being dwarfed by the muscular energy of Central European Bel Ami bucks. Because their beauty is often overshadowed by the nouveau “muscle” twink — the masculine jock who has usurped this label.

Our gay culture seems increasingly more obsessed with toned, athletic, and masculine. Perhaps the Eastern European twink can remind us that there is also room for the non-masculine, boyish, and skinny among us, especially if we’re exclusively bottom boys with souls like delicate flowers.

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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.