meat zine: Interview with Adrian Lourie

Zine culture is blossoming all around the world and especially some queer publications just take the risk of printing something and putting it out there. The advantages are striking: by producing something yourself no one will tell you what to do and what not, which is a big benefit for every idea beyond normative boarders. Charming Adrian Lourie and his meat zine is one of my favourite pieces of paper out there in zineland. He was so nice to answer some questions about his project that captures casual guys in sexy pinup poses.

 meat zine adrian lourie

The idea of putting a gay pinup zine reminds a lot of infamous BUTT, groundbreaking in it‘s attitude and aesthetics. Aren‘t you, as BUTT did, not actually more quoting the idea of pinup in your photography? Hard to imagine someone ripping apart the paper and pin the images to the wall, they’re just too nice.

Well we always have a pull-out centerfold and also a colour print, which I hear make it to a lot of walls and pin boards.  I do agree though that we’re promoting the idea of a pinup being a guy who fall outside of the stereotype of gay masculinity in terms of ‘mainstream’ gay media and pornography.  These fields and also fashion to a lesser extent still sadly inform us as gay men what it takes to be an object of desire.

What‘s appealing for you about the pinup aesthetics? And is there something like a characteristic gaze or attitude you need to produce it?

I’m kinda old-fashioned I suppose.  I remember as a kid and a young gay man looking at pinup magazines and of course there’s a sexuality and a desire but it was also something rather innocent.  I think we’ve lost that a bit in the digital age, where an image of any kind is available at the click of a mouse and we’re all a bit desensitized.    For me it’s  very much about the subject as an individual and about telling the viewer something about them visually.  I am really as interested in the person as I am of seeing a picture of them in their underwear.  I’m essentially quite  inquisitive and I love to get to know the guys I shoot.   I’m obviously very visual, that’s part of my job and who I am but I like to know people’s stories and what makes them tick. I think this really informs what I produce for meat.  I’m also a bit of a purist.  I don’t tell the guys what to wear or even how to stand.  There’s no retouching either and generally I work with quite high key lighting and with a plain backdrop so often there’s nothing to hide behind.  This sounds like a nightmare for someone who in all likelihood has never been photographed before but I think I’m pretty friendly by nature and I shoot all the guys in my kitchen (it has my only white wall) so this tends to create an atmosphere that’s relaxing and fun for the subject and me.

On meat‘s website you write „If you’re a fan of British guys, underpants, hairy chests, high tops, tube socks, vests, shorts or beards, meat is a for you.“ I‘m totally in for all of the attributes! How would you describe the men you showcase? Do they share a certain kind of attitude towards (gay) masculinity?

This is a very tongue-in-cheek remark to those that always bemoan the fact that nearly every meat guy has a beard or wears bright coloured briefs (they don’t by the way).  I think for me what’s interesting about it is that it feels very retro and vintage which works perfectly for meat and it’s also sort of effortless which I find very attractive.  I think it’s also interesting that It’s hard to dissociate from the straight hipster culture and I’m still unsure who’s appropriating it from whom so perhaps it’s much wider than a shared gay masculinity.  Perhaps it’s the start of a new attitude towards masculinity in general.

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The visual and haptic sensation of having a print magazine is totally different from digital media. This might be a redundant question regarding the success of meat, but does print still matter?

Well the reason I started meat in part was because print still matters very much to me and it’s decline is incredibly sad on a person and professional level.  I think there will be a print renaissance and that’s already happening to an extent with the zine culture.  Instant gratification is all very well but I think there is nothing like receiving something in the post (I mean how rarely does that happen these days?) and being able to savour it endlessly.  I think it creates an extra value to the experience of reading or looking at something.

How do you cast your guys? I guess you get a lot of requests.

Not as many as you would think.  I’m always on a recruitment drive!  Meat has a large Facebook and blog presence so lots of guys who access those platforms contact me.  Also through word-of-mouth, previous models, friends and guys who buy the zine obviously.  I’ll pretty much photograph and publish anyone who wants to be part of it.

I was happy to get hold of a copy of the Francois Sagat special. The whole issue is somewhere in between fashion editorial, art and pinup. How was it to work with a professional?meat zine adrian lourie francois sagat

Although it was very much under the meat umbrella, obviously Francois doesn’t necessarily ‘fit’ entirely with  the meat ethos, although I do maintain that meat guys do lots of different jobs and in his field he is somewhat of an anomaly.  We talked about how we could present  a different view of him and one that’s more relevant to who he is today outside of porn. It was a delight for me to do something that had a more fashion and editorial feel but with a strong reference to the meat aesthetic.  He’s an extremely interesting and complex character. He is obviously very self and image aware and has been profoundly affected by the choices he’s made in his life.

You‘re based in London. Do you also shoot internationally? Come to Berlin, we have a lot of great men here!

London is a great melting pot for gay men and obviously as meat evolves I am shooting guys from all over the world who find themselves in the city and class themselves very much as Londoners and also guys from all over Britain and farther afield who travel to London just to shoot for meat.
I’m always being contacted by guys asking me to do an issue in Chicago or New York or South Africa and it was always a distant dream or an idea in the clouds.  However in January after a fortuitous meeting with an amazing American Singer-songwriter called Matt Alber (mattalber.com) I had the opportunity to spend a month in San Francisco where I shot an entire issue, which will be published in June.  It’s certainly opened up the prospect of future international issues and I absolutely love Berlin so that is high on my list!

How do you see the future of meat? I saw you‘re going to make a calendar.

Yes I’m doing the first meat calendar for 2014, which is exciting and planning to launch meat SF in San Francisco later this summer.  I’m also working on an issue which will feature other gay artists work but will be curated by meat and I hope that there might be an exhibition of that too. Meat 10, although the 12th in total will be the official anniversary issue so I’m starting to think about that.  I hope that I can continue to produce something that people identify with and respond too and that champions the diversity of amazing men that constitute our community.

All images (c) Adrian Lourie.

 

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