Josh Olsen on Otter J and Getting Flirty and Dirty With Denver (Slightly NSFW)

Founder of Otter J Josh Olsen (left) with friend and muse Greg Maronde.
Founder of Otter J Josh Olsen (left) with friend and muse Greg Maronde.
Lauren Archuletta

The Chinese Zodiac got it wrong: 2015 isn’t the Year of the Sheep — it’s the Year of the Otter. Photographer Josh Olsen has spent the last several months taking photos of “otters” — described by Mister Hollywood as hairy men with an athletic build — and he is now releasing his first lookbook, dirty/flirty.  

Olsen began his documentation of otters on his tumblr, Otter J, relying on his exhibitionist friends as muses for his artwork. On June 5, Olsen participated in a First Friday event at Buffalo Exchange’s Gallery 51, where the walls were adorned with photos of his friends, often shirtless, in the bathroom of the Denver Wrangler. After leading a guided tour through the gallery of otters, Olsen sat down with Westword to discuss dirty/flirty and his new line of tank tops, which are now available online.

Westword: Otter J has such a large following on Tumblr and Instagram — what made you decide on offering a hard copy of your photo collection?

Josh Olsen: This is my first tangible photo book and it contains all-new material that I just wanted to showcase on another level. I took on this project and today it’s finally out in the world.

Arthur Gilkison (left) and Drew Butler show off their recent Otter J purchases featuring Josh Olsen and Kyle Quinn's collaboration.
Arthur Gilkison (left) and Drew Butler show off their recent Otter J purchases featuring Josh Olsen and Kyle Quinn's collaboration.
Lauren Archuletta

You’re also releasing two new tank tops. Did you design them yourself?

These tank tops are from the dirty/flirty collection, all of which I collaborated on with artist and good friend of mine Kyle Quinn. I gave him complete access to my archives and he chose images and turned them into pieces. Some of the screen prints on the wall that are also featured on the tank tops are from maybe four or five years ago.

Why did you choose to release the new apparel on a First Friday?

Well, I’ve always sold all of my stuff online at my storefront, Otter J. But I chose to release the tanks here at Buffalo Exchange because I have a sort of connection with them. We did a party here last year and they asked me to help kick off Pride Month. Honestly, they’re very brave to let me do this. My stuff is not very family-friendly, so I had to be very selective in all of the things I’m showcasing. I really wanted a penis in the show, so I’m glad I got that one included. I’m proud of that dick; it took up four sticky notes of space, just in case anybody was wondering.

Other than “four sticky notes” worth of space, how would you describe the photos you’ve chosen to include in the gallery and in your lookbook?

Welcome to Otter J, where all things are shirtless and hairy.
Welcome to Otter J, where all things are shirtless and hairy.
Lauren Archuletta

All of the photos represent the last year of my life. It’s like a total diary of my life, a yearbook. Because that’s really all it is, it’s just me documenting my antics. I’ve had this idea for a while that I wanted to cultivate some sort of collection. Some of these photos were taken last year at my calendar-release party, so I guess I’m just really good at getting people to take their clothes off.

Do you mostly photograph your friends?

I tend to only photograph my friends, I’m lucky to have mostly friends who are exhibitionists and not afraid to take their clothes off. Like Ryan, he’s been sort of a muse of mine for a couple of years and one time we were just hanging out and yet again I just had him take his shirt off to see what happens. Or Rob, another friend of mine, we were at the Denver Eagle and I just had him lift his shirt up.

Only at Otter J can you buy a coffee table book full of naked, hairy men.
Only at Otter J can you buy a coffee table book full of naked, hairy men.
Lauren Archuletta

Where do you see things going now that you’ve released dirty/flirty?

I just want things to keep going, keep happening. This is all so weird, it really is, because it’s really like looking at the last year of my life. I’ll be traveling to Pittsburgh in a couple of weeks to document a party there, but I just want it to keep happening.

Do you consider dirty/flirty the first in a series of other lookbooks?

I definitely see this as volume one. I want to produce a lookbook maybe quarterly, if not at least a couple times a year.

A wall of Olsen's muses
A wall of Olsen's muses
Lauren Archuletta

To see Olsen’s complete portfolio of mostly shirtless, hairy men, visit Otter J. His lookbook is available for purchase, along with his other apparel.

Lauren loves covering (and writing about) all things hairy. Follow her on Twitter @laureneverytime.

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