In the world of queer art and gay male erotica, big names like Pierre et Gilles and George Platt-Lynes might ring a bell. But where do you go to find the work of artists such as Zachari Logan and Daniel Castillo Reynoso? You can readily find the big name, mainstream queer artists everywhere you turn. Just go to any Borders bookstore and glance over the LGBT section and you’ll bump into your fare share of Tom of Finland collections. When it comes to today’s up and coming queer artists, and especially voices from Latin America, where do you turn? ANAL Magazine offers a refreshing and much needed alternative, an artsy, queer and elegantly designed publication with analysis, critique, smut and vigor. Providing stimulation on all fronts is ANAL’s strategy, be it intellectual or otherwise. And where there’s young queers there’s bound to be a party. In the couple years since ANAL’s debut issue, they’ve amassed quite a following of hipster-crazed party kids in one of the densest cities in the world. With the legalization of gay marriage already under its belt, and high-caliber independent productions such as ANAL in their midst, Mexico City is throwing down and reppin’ hard. With a print version that’s as crisp as your morning porn and a digital version as delightful as ever, ANAL will keep your brain as sticky as your fingers.
Fresh from their summer SKIN party and with much admiration, I corresponded with one of the founding editors of ANAL, Ricardo Velmor, about the trials and tribulations of running your own indie mag, the style and intent of the publication, and a little bit of queer politics. Dissidence and cultural activism are the words of the day kiddos. Enjoy.
Hello Ricardo. Thanks for the interview. I’m very curious to learn how Anal Magazine started. What were some of the founding moments and why was the magazine formed?
I met Christian Gaudi because of a friend who thought we needed to know each other. He introduced us so I came to his house and after two or three meetings we became close friends. At that time there wasn’t any magazines we would like to buy because of its contents. All of the publications were either cheap porno or just club guides, so instead of complaining we started to do the magazine we wanted. We started making some sketches, taking some photos and meeting people, but unfortunately Christian died because of cancer. Then Víctor Altamirano, who was inside the project but with a low profile status, realized I needed an extra hand and we began to materialize the project together. We contacted Francisco to upgrade the design and finally after a year and several months the magazine came to light.
How did you grow your base of ads and supporters? Was it hard to gain support?
Well, we are still growing it. It is quite hard to introduce a magazine named Anal into a country where gay agenda was taboo a few years ago even with gay people. However, we have been able to get in touch with independent companies and many people who are empathic to our work, and they have helped us a lot.
Who helped found the magazine? What was your vision?
Christian Gaudi was the main actor at the very beginning. However, as I told you before, this would never have happen without Víctor and Francisco. The main goal of Anal Magazine is to bring Mexican audiences male erotica, art and smart but also stimulating literature from talented people all over the world; and, at the same time, bring the work of national artists outside Mexico. All this inside a high quality publication.
What does Anal offer that other publications like Butt and Handbook don’t?
It is not our goal to compete with other publications as our contexts are extremely different. Anal features more than just interviews and photos about sexy guys, it offers visual artist portfolios, essays and paperworks in both Spanish and English, everything from a Mexican contemporary point of view.
Where were you in your life when you started the magazine and where are you now?
It’s been quite a journey, I was just finishing college and beginning to lean about the “real world”. Nowadays the magazine has given me the opportunity to spread ideas in a wide audience, to met a lot of people I admire and to realize the importance of transforming projects into a reality and keeping them alive.
How’s the magazine doing and what do you hope to accomplish in the future?
The magazine is reaching the point of transcendence not only in Mexico but in another countries too. It is also starting to call more supporters and I think that soon it would be sustainable by its own. In the future I would like to make it more accurate in times of publication, and to be present in more cities all around the country and the globe. And I would love to do an exhibition with many of the artists that we have featured in the magazine and on the blog.
How do you select your artists and features? Can any queer artist approach you for a feature or present their work in Anal? What are your criteria?
We are open to any kind of submissions, from texts, photos and collaborations to self taken pics reading the magazine in briefs or just naked. However, except from the “i-read-naked” pics, all the proposals have to be in accordance to our editorial line (which means they need to feature masculinity in any possible way) and also they need to show coherence to a body of work and conceptual substance that endorse their quality.
Can you share with us a little about the design and format of the magazine? It has an exquisite presentation.
The size of the magazine is half letter so it can be easily read and transported. The design is meant to give the same importance to images and text with a sober arty book-like aesthetic and with a structure based on our logo which is a square sliced by diagonals. We use bond paper that gives the images a rough texture as an analogy of something more masculine.
Tell us a little about Mexico now, where does Anal fall in the dialogue for queer civil unions and the marriage debate in Mexico? Is there a debate?
We celebrate same sex marriage in terms of civil rights, but we think gay mens’ relationships work in a different way that do not exactly fit into that concept. Also, I think Anal’s dissidence and activism is meant to be cultural, which is maybe slower but its radio scope is wider. At the end, art has a huge impact in life and politics.
I’d like to learn a little bit more about your work and history? Where are you from, where’d you study and how has all of that played into your work with Anal, if at all?
I’m a proud Mexico City-born man who studied visual arts in “La Esmeralda”, which is one of the two art schools here. The reason I studied art is because I’m very interested in constructing images. I believe images have an enormous power and impact in society. Anal is artistic in its core and I think that is very helpful to have an interest and culture in visual arts when it comes to building the entire concept and aesthetics behind not only the publication but everything around it. Art makes everything tastier.
Is Anal your full time job? Do you have any other hobbies, passions?
Anal and visual arts are my main interests in life. I split my time between them and design, that is what ultimately gives the money for both. I also love movies and I try to go to the cinema at least once a week.
How can queer fork in Chicago and the states get their hands on a copy of Anal?
We are launching the online store in a few weeks so everybody can buy it. We are also always looking for new distribution points, you can keep up to date in our website.
What’s next for Anal? For you?
Anal Magazine Vol. 3 will be out in July and we are working on bringing it to many more places. Many people have asked for Anal parties in other states so I want to prepare something special for them. Also, I’m working on finishing some pieces to join material for a solo exhibition very soon.