Gay Men's Magazines - From Under Wraps To Out In The OpenPosted December 04 2017
With a number of new additions to the archive recently, we thought we would take a look at some of the classic, soon-to-be classic, and lesser known gay men's publications we have at Elegantly Papered.
We were really excited to get our hands on a few more issues of TIMM this week. For those not in know, TIMM (The International Male Magazine) was one of the first gay men's magazines published in the UK following the introduction of the Sexual Offences Act in 1967 which decriminalized homosexual acts in England and Wales in private between two men over the age of 21. Published by Frankel Publications in New Bond Street, TIMM ran for just over a dozen issues from 1968 to 1969.
After just six months, TIMM had subscribers in 21 countries around the world. According to The International Times, during its short print run it was Europe’s leading men’s fashion and physique magazine. TIMM was only available by subscription and readers had to send a self-addressed envelope to a London P.O. box number for their monthly fix of male nudes and ’swinging London’ style fashion shoots. Physique photography, previously the only type of gay magazine published from the 1950s onwards, was the mainstay of the magazine with spreads from mostly London-based studios such as Ferrero, Boy Club, Kriss and Don Busby appearing in each issue.
As well as fashion writing, TIMM ran articles on social issues ranging from light-hearted musings on surviving the gay dating scene to more serious pieces on aversion therapy, reflecting the still precarious social and political status held by gay men in the late 1960s. TIMM also championed erotic illustration, featuring work from readers and professional illustrators, with styles as eclectic as Willyan of Amsterdam’s leather-clad muscle men, a nod to the work of Tom of Finland, to Jean Paul David’s demure charcoal and pencil centrefolds.
Ah Men was a catalogue for the mail order company of the same name based in West Hollywood, California with a second franchise store in Houston, Texas. Ah Men reflected the tastes and fashions of the burgeoning West Coast gay community whilst not openly branding itself as a gay magazine.
Produced in the kaleidoscope era of Flokati rugs, Disco and Harvey Milk, the catalogue featured work by progressive designers like Rudi Gernreich, the creator of the monokini, who used fashion design as a social statement to advance sexual freedom. Ah Men really was a product of its time, and many of the fashion trends it showcased (terry cloth jumpsuits and lurex-trimmed jeans, to name but a few) remain cultural artefacts of the period.
Much like TIMM, BUTT magazine encourages its readers (‘buttheads’) to submit features, photographs and other content creating a sense of community and dialogue. Founded by Jop Van Bennekom and Gert Jonkers, Jonkers has been quoted as saying he wanted reading BUTT ‘to feel like meeting an amazing man on the train or in a bar and having a great, interesting conversation with him.’
At a time in the early noughties when the majority of mainstream gay magazines promoted the gay man as tanned, designer-clad and heavily epilated, BUTT provided a home for all things furry almost a decade before SCRUFF brought bears and otters into the mainstream. Both smutty and cerebral, BUTT is notorious for its frank interviews with politicians, fashion designers, and musicians as well as the unreconstituted ‘sex reviews’ submitted by its readers. Like Van Bennekom and Jonkers’ other titles, The Gentlewoman and Fantastic Man, the magazine is beautifully produced featuring work from established artists and fashion photographers such as Wolfgang Tillmans, Christopher Clary and Ryan Mcginley.
Launched in 1999, AXM was a British lifestyle magazine aimed at young gay and bisexual men which started life as Axion News, a free magazine circulated on the UK gay scene in the mid 1990s. Seen by some as a competitor to Attitude, launched five years earlier, AXM was publisher Millivres Prowlers (owners of the Gay Times) attempt to target a younger, socially-aware audience who they believed were as keen to read articles about manic depression and body dysmorphia as they were to discover the latest fashion trends from Paris and Milan.
AXN published its last print edition in November 2008 before launching as an exclusively digital magazine in early 2009. However, in the competitive arena of mainstream gay men's publications dominated by big-budget titles like DNA, OUT, and Attitude, AXM was unfortunately unable to secure the audience it needed and managed only one online issue before folding.
Only two issues of Rumours (‘A Margate Gay Zine’) have been released to date, but this quirky zine from our adoptive home town is a great example of the current growth in gay indie titles like The Tenth and Banana catering for a specific area or group within the LGBTQ community.
Published anonymously, but widely attributed to the artist Tracey Ermine, Rumours is an old school Xerox zine which hints at the aesthetic of its lo-fi predecessors, such as Fanzini and Fag School, with its mix of subversive collage and grainy images. Rumours is a hyper-local zine about and for the gay community in Margate, but it’s also a zine about Margate itself, touching on social issues like gentrification and the challenges (and thrills) of being gay in a small town.