My First Heartbreak

British photographer Elliot Morgan makes teenage heartbreak the subject of his recent photo series. The sequence follows a young guy—hair dyed like Cruella de Vil and dressed in a multicolored leather jacket—during what seems to be the day of a break up. The guy is clearly depressed; he keeps rubbing his eyes, holding his forehead, and he shows us his phone as if that’s how the break up happened. He does all the things you might suspect from a hormonal, overly dramatic teenager who believes they will never find love again. We’ve all been there, right? But love somehow always prevails.

I was lucky. My first boyfriend was my first kiss and my first sexual experience. We were together for one year and then we broke up. It wasn’t hard. I simply found someone else.

What was really hard during those teenage years was the crushes on all the “straight” kids in school. You had your typical jock, the jock’s super cool and flirty (but straight) friend, the teacher (don’t try it, you know you had a crush on one of your teachers, too), the boss at your first internship (I may or may not have sent mine a four page letter after the first week), and so on and so on.

But what was it about those unfulfilled teenage crushes that makes them so much more memorable than anything after? Is it purely hormones? Is it because they are the first? Is it because they shape what your future love life is going to look like? Or is it simply because they were unrequited?

Unrequited love does not die; it’s only beaten down to a secret place where it hides, curled and wounded.” – Elle Newmark, The Book of Unholy Mischi.

That quote makes so much sense for the direction I was trying to take this article in. But I just admit….I have never read the book. I Googled it. It does, however, end my anecdote and segue nicely into the reason for writing this.

It’s for good reason that teenage love is the subject of the most romantic love stories in history—Romeo Juliet (Shakespeare), The Fault in Our Stars (John Green), 10 Things I Hate About You (Gil Junger), and many more—as it is the most passionate and unruly years in our lives. And most of us will probably look back at the period with a light head shake and a smirk thinking about how ridiculous we were.

Words: Lars Byrresen Petersen
Photographer: Elliot Morgan
Model:Tadgh Ahern @ Profile

Fix Your Face: Five Grooming Products for a Fresh 2017

Our community predominantly considers the use of beauty products to be a feminine trait, but once we broaden our scope and realize that grooming can be easily incorporated into our daily rituals…the results can look amazing.

Here are my top five beauty products to incorporate into your daily regime. These aren’t overpriced luxury products that break the bank or are too difficult to get your hands on. These are meant to be low-impact in terms of use but high-impact in terms of making you look fantastic.

The Body Shop All-In-One BB Cream

Most men use a facial moisturizer that they have bought at the drugstore or just take body cream and put it on their face. Moisturizer is important for keeping the skin hydrated, but what we yearn for is a cohesive complexion, and we should have something specifically for the face. Enter the BB Cream! People often confuse this as a tinted moisturizer, however, it’s a lighter product that adapts to your skin tone and gives you luminous skin without the need for foundation or powder.

Cosmetics à la Carte Brow Ink

One of the most common and unspoken issues in male grooming is patchy beards. Some men almost feel emasculated because they can’t grow one or it just doesn’t seem ‘full enough’. This tip and trick is something I learned while working with Cosmetics à la Carte. During their male grooming shoots, they would recommend using eyebrow ink to fill the beard. This perfects the architecture of the beard and gives a fuller and sharper look. You don’t need to use that much for a nice effect and you can even use eyeliner and simply blend it in (obviously suited to your beard color) but Indian ink looks great and comes off with face wash (and even in the shower if that’s too much of a step).

Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Eye De-Puffer

After a hard day or even a crazy night, we can’t deny the fact that we wake up with designer eye bags. This is my go-to product to fix that. You simply wash your face, apply this under the eye socket, and tap away the excess with your fingers. With its caffeine-based ingredients, it gives you a natural alertness and can add a couple of hours of sleep to what probably was a night you can’t remember.

Aēsop Geranium Leaf Body Balm

I know everyone has their favorite moisturizer but I swear by Aēsop’s Leaf Body Balm. It smells delicious and mine has lasted an entire year. So although it’s pricey, it actually goes a long way. The key to moisturizing your body is to do it as soon as you get out of the shower. Instead of drying off completely, grab some moisturizer and lather it all over to lock in the moisture. This gives you noticeably (I hate it when people say this but it’s true) softer skin that your partner or Grindr date will notice instantly.

Bulldog Original Face Scrub

Lastly, I recommend everyone use a facial scrub at least once a week. It’s important to exfoliate and get rid of the wear and tear of the week (especially on your face). Bulldog is amazing because it’s organic, made from natural ingredients, and feels amazing after you use it. I recommend steaming your face with hot water (just pour boiling water in a bowl and sit with your face over it using a towel to keep in the steam so you open your pores) and then scrubbing in a pea-sized amount in circular motions then rinsing. This will revitalize your face and you’ll see the difference in the morning. (Note: Don’t touch your skin with your hands after you wash your face…because then what would be the point?)

Ryan Lanji is a Fashion and Beauty Curator. He has curated exhibitions for beauty brands such as Revlon and Cosmetics à la Carte.

Nine to Know Now: Copenhagen

NameOliver Fussing
Age24
Occupation Stylist
@Oliverfussing

What do you daydream about?
Food.

What social media app has helped your work the most?
Instagram. Like most people, I get really tired of it sometimes. But I also find a lot of great images and inspiration on it.

What is your fashion sense inspired by?
So many different things, people, places and photographs, not only fashion. But there is a Will McBride story from AnOther Magazine that is really special to me. I never get tired of it.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
I hope to travel a lot.

NameEzra Shami
Age28
OccupationModel Stylist
@Elzkershami

What do you daydream about?
I daydream about a lot of things. My mind is always going in different directions, whether it’s friends, men, work, or life in general.

How does your sexuality/gender identity influence your work?
I work in fashion, so I would not say my sexuality or gender has anything to do with my work.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
I’m inspired by a lot of things, mainly my friends, the streets of Copenhagen, and going out.

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative impact on your practice?
I think it has a positive impact on my line of work. When I share my work on social media, it gets around, and you get an instant reaction. Also, a lot of clients depend on social media when it comes to a fresh point of view.

How important is a sense of community to you?
To me, it’s very important. My community gives me a sense of being and belonging. I’m very social and I love meeting new people.

Do you think creative work is underfunded?
A lot of times people don’t understand how demanding my line of work is. At times my work is not as acknowledged when it comes to payments. It’s hard at times, but it’s getting better.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
I like going to dark techno parties. You’ll find the best party at Fast Forward in Copenhagen.

What social media app has helped your work the most?
A finance app called Dinero.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
Taking one thing at a time. To be happy.

NameLukas Højlund
Age25
OccupationGraphic Designer and party organizer/promoter
@l00k_ass

How does your sexuality/gender identity influence your work?
Although I’m cis-male, I grew up in an environment where differences between people, such as gender, sexuality, or ethnicity, did not come between anyone. We all stood together and fought against the system and people that tried to fuck with us. I didn’t go out to mainstream clubs or bars. I was always at this big old squad in the center of Nørrebro. They had strict guidelines that did not tolerate any form of racism, sexism, homophobia, or transphobia. Those values stuck with me, and continue to be the most important factor in all my work.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
It’s inspired by the things that surround me: Music, graphics, parties, leftovers, trash, high-end fashion, a cheap discovery at a second hand store, random Instagram accounts, the punk environment I grew up in, and the rave scene I’m in now.

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative impact on your practice?
At the moment, I work with graphic design and I’m part of a crew organizing and promoting raves and concerts, so I use social media a lot as a platform for communication. It works in a positive way because it makes it easy to reach a lot of different people and we end up getting a more diverse crowd at our parties.

How important is a sense of community to you?
Without my community, friends, and allies, I would not be able to do my work. I do underground raves, and it would not be possible without all the people helping out all the time.

Do you think creative work is underfunded?
Yes and no. I used to work for some big magazines for free doing graphic design and layout because I thought it would give me some good connections or maybe they would hire me for some paid jobs. But they never did. I don’t think they needed more money, but there are so many people standing in line to work for free to get those connections that not many will end up getting hired. I learned the most from doing the work I liked to do with people I liked. And I still do. And now I know that we made our own connections. And those are good enough.

Who are your top three most inspiring creatives?
Performance artist and art student Casper-Malthe Augusta, electronic avant garde music producer Hari Kishore aka DJ Hvad (or simply just HVAD), and clothing designer Shila Gaonkar.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
As I organize parties at least once a month, I almost don’t go out anymore. I know it sounds boring. But I really liked the last Herrensauna party I attended in Berlin. It was amazing and had a next level energy you don’t see often in Copenhagen.

What kind of music inspires you?
Mostly electronic music, but it really depends on my mood. The record i think i like the most from 2016 has to be Yves Tumor’s “Serpent Music”. It’s the perfect mood for me.

What social media app has helped your work the most?
Instagram and Facebook. Easy for connecting my graphic work with the promoting of parties and so on.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
Looking forward to seeing where Fast Forward Productions will take us. We only started one year ago and we’re already working with people from Berlin, Stockholm, London, and Leipzig, and we’re talking with someone about doing stuff on the other side of the Atlantic.

NameOliver Skov Haase
Age25
OccupationStudent
@Oliroed

What do you daydream about?
I daydream about a lot of projects I want to do, and I wish I had the energy and time to do more of them.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
Whatever I see. The music scene. My friends.

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative impact on your practice?
I see our generation as very self-promoting. We’re the social media generation. Everything is about how you present yourself, not necessarily how you are, but your image. I know I have this feeling when I’ve been browsing Instagram and suddenly need to stop, because I start feeling bad about myself. We have to remember that what we see is never the whole truth. Yes, social media has brought us closer together, but at the same time we’re as far away as ever. In my case, I have to consume it in small doses.

How important is a sense of community to you?
I have two close friends and I really hang out a lot with them. For me, it’s important to belong, but I try to care as little as I can.

What are your top three most inspiring creatives?
It changes every day, but I’ve always been very fond of Marilyn Manson.

Do you ever run into homophobic trolls online?
Don’t really read it, just delete them from my feed if I ever see it.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
It could be anything from clubs to a party at a friend’s place, as long as the vibe is there.

What kind of music inspires you?
Black metal, techno, punk, hardcore, 80’s, but I listen to literally anything.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
Having a less turbulent year hopefully. Less stress, less problems.

NameVictor Nimb
Age21
@P_ussy

What do you daydream about?
Making a living without having to tone my appearance down.

How does your sexuality/gender identity influence your work?
I just got a job at a bar, and was told I couldn’t wear makeup or heels, because it apparently weakens my authority.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
1920’s and 80’s are a big inspiration. I love the playful attitudes towards gender.

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative impact on your practice?
Social media definitely has had a positive impact on me, especially seeing alternative looking people on Instagram daring to do their thing.

How important is a sense of community to you?
I haven’t really thought about my relationship to my communities.

Do you think creative work is underfunded?
No, I don’t think creative work is underfunded. Creative people have always found a way of surviving. The best art and fashion is produced due to troubled times.

What are your top three most inspiring creatives?
Claude Cahun, Iris Apfel, Cruella de Vil.

Do you ever run into homophobic trolls online?
Homophobic trolls online are rare for me. Sometimes guys mistake me for a woman, but they are polite most of the time.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
I mostly go to Vernissages, but private parties or techno parties are a big hit as well.

What social media app has helped your work the most?
Instagram. It’s so easy to use and you can just scroll through the pics.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
In 2017 I’m really looking forward to giving less fucks.

NameEsben Weile Kjær
Age23
OccupationArtist
@Esbenweile

What do you daydream about?
Living with as much freedom as possible.

How does your sexuality/gender identity influence your work?
Both gender and sexuality issues are very important in my practice. I hate the idea that many straight people have that if you are a queer person all your work is about that. I’m not own sexuality is super important for my work. I think that sexuality and gender is important in a more general perspective. It’s more on a theoretical level. I’m trying to understand different issues and situations from a queer perspective. Club culture, sub vs. mainstream culture and so on.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
The 18th century.

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative impact on your practice?
It’s really positive. It’s so easy to get access to info that’s both visual and textual. I don’t think that online and offline exist any more. We are online all the time and the virtual part of your identity is as real as the opposite. Of course, there is also a lot of problematic bullshit and oppressive structures on social media as there is in the physical world.

What are your top three most inspiring creatives?
Mark Fisher, my sister, and Mark Leckey.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
Parties where I’m playing. I’m kind of a control freak.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
The revolution.

NameCeline Marguerite Pedersen
Age20
OccupationWaitress Stylist Assistant
@celineqt

What do you daydream about?
I daydream about the day where the standards of gender performance for trans people aren’t so high. I also dream about drinking cocktails from a coconut in Hawaii with a gorgeous man.

How does your sexuality/gender identity influence your work?
I’m very conscious about me passing as a woman when I’m at work, and it’s exhausting. I constantly think about my voice, my manly facial features, etc. But only when I’m around customers and when I’m with my colleagues I don’t care. It would be nice to not be that self-conscious every time I’m at work.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
Underground party scene In Copenhagen and celebs from abroad. Sometimes I like to walk by all the high end stores and just look at the clothing that are displayed in the windows, and then I’ll find something that reminds me of the displayed clothes in a vintage shop.

Do you think creative work is underfunded?
Yes!!! I meet and see so many amazing creative people with good ideas, but with no funding or investors because no one gives a fuck about creativity anymore unless there is money in it.

Do you ever run into homophobic trolls online?
Homophobic, transphobic, racist trolls are everywhere, but only on social media platforms where you can be anonymous. I have been an Internet user for almost 11 years, and within the last four years, trolls are less common. I don’t know if it’s because I am good at avoiding them or maybe they’ve just grown the fuck up.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
Underground parties where sexuality, gender, color ,or whatever doesn’t matter. You come to dance and have fun.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
I’m looking forward to traveling, getting a nose job, meeting new and exciting people, and also finding new and positives sides about myself and my friends.

NameKarl Gustav Brøndum Østergaard
Age20
Occupation“clubkid” i guess lol
@Karl.gustav

What do you daydream about?
White helium balloons on grey beaches at sunset.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
I’m kinda of a minimalist whether I like it or not. What inspires/seduces me are often the materials and fabrics, mostly really synthetic ones. And then I just try integrate it into my wardrobe. Fashions tendencies comes and go, but this love for “nasty” materials seems to hang on to me. If I was to pick a muse, it would be Clara Deshayes before the whole Vetements era.

How important is a sense of community to you?
It makes feel safe. I really see that I’m a part of something when traveling. Don’t know if it’s good or bad, but people tend to judge from much more values when outside Copenhagen.

What are your top three most inspiring creatives?
Loke Rahbek, Anne Sofie Madsen, and Haruki Murakami.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
I really enjoy Fast Forward, Herrensauna, and Esben’s Mainstream Parties.

What kind of music inspires you?
I really enjoy Croatian Amor, Cremation Lily, and Slowdive at the moment. Been listening to Croatian Amor’s “The World” constantly for nine months. “LA Hills Burn at the Peak of Winter” has made me cry more than once.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
I’m currently traveling for two months, so maybe that will be eventful.

NameIvy September Rosenauer
Age26
OccupationMarketing Student, Model
@ivyrosenauer

What do you daydream about?
I daydream about walking on the streets and feel like I own the spot I’m given in this world. Being accepted as a transgender woman without any questions asked.

How does your sexuality/gender identity influence your work?
It is definitely harder in my position as a transgender person getting accepted. I feel like I have to work 10 times harder to prove myself. I feel like coming from any minority you are instantly categorized for gender/sexuality rather than for who you actually are.

What’s your fashion sense inspired by?
I am inspired by the social movements and roles models in this society. I dress after my mood. The 1920’s is my favorite fashion period.

Do you think social media has had a positive or negative impact on your practice?
I think social media is positive in the sense of that people can connect and you can get updated with things that you did not have a clue existed a few years ago. The negative is that people forget get to live.

How important is a sense of community to you?
I think everybody needs to somehow feel included. It is healthy to surround yourself with like-minded people.

Do you think creative work is underfunded?
I think we have lost focus on the actual talents of this world. The world should slow down from this fast pace movement and praise the people that work hard and have something to say rather than just showing off.

What are your top three most inspiring creatives?
I appreciate a lot. I do not really pay attention to specifics.

Do you ever run into homophobic trolls online?
When I lived as a homosexual man, I never experienced any injustice online. Coming out and living as a transgender woman is another story.

What’s your favorite party to go out to?
I like a good private party with good friends and music.

What kind of music inspires you?
Music with feeling and music that touches me, as well as making my own.

What social media app has helped your work the most?
Facebook without a doubt!

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
To release my first track and arrange the first unicorn-transgender wagon at Copenhagen Pride. as well as having my VICE magazine documentary out. In general, I hope to see less pressure in people’s eyes, and that they remember the core of things that really matters. A lot of healing to be done in the world.

Art Through Activism: A Chat With Artist Slava Mogutin

Russian contemporary queer artist Slava Mogutin engages in activism as part of his practice, and explores legislation, sexuality, and religion in his work. Coming from homophobic social systems has equipped him with a compelling perspective on our community’s progress around the world, and that shows both in his visual work and in his words.

Pedro: What’s been happening in Slava land recently?
Slava: This last year was very productive and eventful. I traveled a lot, did several shows and performances, directed two music videos, made lots of new art and wrote a new book of poetry in English and Russian. I also had the honor of presenting the Lost Boys series in my first outdoor public exhibition in Prague. There’s nothing more encouraging for an artist than seeing your work stretched on billboards, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it was received.

Sexuality and breaking social barriers is obviously an important part of you as a protester. What made you start creating art about it?
I could never separate my political activism from my art—something that is not going to change as long as I’m alive. My work celebrates diversity and nonconformity. Ever since my teenage years as a punk poet in Moscow, I’ve been addressing the issues that are personally important to me, from homophobia, censorship, hypocrisy, bigotry and social inequality to displacement and identity, disaffection and alienation, alternative subcultures and gender crossover. Coming from a hostile and oppressive country like Communist Russia, I had to fight for my existence and acceptance from an early age, and I did it through my poetry and art as much as my political statements and actions.

You’re known for being quite the renegade in Russia, as shown by your famous first Russian gay marriage attempt back in 1994. How has your relationship with the country evolved over the years?
Quoting the great late Leonard Cohen, “I love the country, but I can’t stand the scene.” I have a love-hate relationship with Russia. Being forced to leave my country at such a young age was a very traumatic and challenging experience for me, but thanks to my exile, I became the person and artist I am today. I’m still proud of my roots and my culture, but I haven’t been back home in over 10 years, and I have no desire of endorsing Putin’s homophobic corrupt regime in any shape or form.

What are your hopes for the near future of queer visibility?
Radical, unfiltered queer imagery is still being restricted and routinely censored on social media and in most mainstream media outlets. Instead, we’re being served with a homogenized sterile substitute presented as the new “gay norm.” This is not to mention a list of nearly 80 countries where homosexuality and any expressions of queer lifestyle or sensibility are still illegal or semi-legal. Sadly, that long list includes most populist countries like Russia, India and China, most of Africa and the entire Arabic world. It’s fair to say that we live in a queer bubble that only covers some patches of our planet, which still remains largely homophobic. I’m afraid this situation is not going to change on its own anytime soon, unless we continue to fight for our universal rights and acceptance.

Can you tell us a little bit about your most recent series, Young Blood Open Heart?
This is, perhaps, the most experimental body of work I’ve produced to date. It combines traditional paper and photo collage with bodily fluids, rust, wine, vinegar, lime and beet juice, and even some vaginal cream (all the good things). I revisited and deconstructed some of my earlier images, giving them a whole new meaning, with less focus on sexuality and more emphasis on the existential, spiritual, and the Occult.

What is the reason behind collage as your choice of medium?
Collage is one of my favorite mediums, along with photography, video, text, and drawing. I like the idea of turning trash into treasures and using found and appropriated material, from vintage erotica, comics books, newspapers, and stolen Bibles to feathers, stickers, and random objects that I collected on the street.

Religion seems to be a recurring theme in your work. What are your thoughts on the coexistence of religion and sexuality?
I came full circle from being an atheist to getting baptized at 17, then rejecting God and my religion for most of my adult life, and then becoming a born-again in recent years. A couple of years ago, I had a show in Greece and I had a religious epiphany there, so I went to each and every Orthodox cathedral I could find. It was like rediscovering my own roots through the Byzantine roots of Russian culture, religion, and Cyrillic alphabet. It was very empowering and enlightening for me on the personal and artistic level.

I think a lot of gay men reject God and religion because they get off on the idea of being “bad” or “evil.” Over the past 20 years I’ve documented many fetish subcultures, and I think the entire BDSM etiquette and mythology are based on the Catholic guilt complex. I would call it reverse spirituality, because you cannot believe in Satan without believing in God, just like you cannot be “evil” without knowing something about “good.”

You collaborated with Bruce LaBruce, Edmund White, and most recently, with No Bra on a video piece inspired by Leonard Cohen, I’m Your Man. What brought all of you together?
Collaboration is one of the key elements of my practice, and I was fortunate to work with many great artists, writers, and musicians. I’m Your Man is a cover of Leonard Cohen’s classic song that I did with Susanne Oberbeck of No Bra. We recorded the track in New York and then filmed the video on our recent trip to London. It’s a song about modern romance and disaffection that we both found very engaging, so we thought it was appropriate to film it in Hampstead Heath Park, the famous gay cruising area where George Michael was busted for “dogging” several years ago. Susanne and I wanted to retrace his steps before the arrest amidst the actual cruisers who just happened to be there. It was a beautiful sunny day and we managed to capture the anxious mood and excitement of cruising while filming each other on my small undercover camera. Sadly, the video premiered days before Leonard Cohen’s death, followed by George Michael’s, so the project turned out to be a double tribute to both of them.

Has the work of Leonard Cohen inspired your practice in the past?
I’ve been a huge admirer of Leonard Cohen’s work ever since I discovered it as a teenager in Moscow and I still find him very inspiring. “First We Take Manhattan” used to be one of my anthems. It seemed like a perfect script for my early artistic aspirations.

Cruising seems to be one of the themes the video explores. Is this something you have dabbled in?
When it comes to cruising, I’m more of a voyeur than participant. As a gay virgin, I used to go to the Alexandrovsky Park, Moscow’s main cruising spot right next to the Red Square, where I would watch gay guys meet. It was my first exploration of the gay underground at the time was homosexuality was still considered a crime punishable with up to five years in prison. Sometimes I saw gays being harassed, arrested, and bashed just based on their looks. So for me, cruising is forever associated with danger and breaking the law. Despite all that—years after exile—I still find cruising very exciting and romantic. It’s about breaking the walls, rejecting societal norms, and creating your own alternative queer space. In my view, cruising is a healthy alternative to claustrophobic and restricted gay venues and the culture of online dating, which renders all senses and personalities useless.

You have a new book coming out called Bros Brosephines, which features a lot of your photography work for magazines over the years. How do you find your subjects for these shoots?
This book is very different from my previous ones. It’s a survey on my commission and editorial work going back 15 years. The title comes from two separate projects I did for VICE magazine, “Bros Blowing Shotties” and “Brosephines.” Both stories became quite popular and were republished in various VICEeditions worldwide, from the U.K. and Germany to Australia and New Zealand. In some cases, the casting was arranged by the magazines and I worked with professional models, although I still prefer to shoot my friends and fellow artists, so there are many familiar faces, like Gio Black Peter, François Sagat, Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst, Sophia Lamar, Candis Cayne, Omahyra Mota, and Brian Kenny, who was a principal collaborator on several series.

The photos seem to be both documentary and staged, and they look like a lot of fun! How do you get your models to behave like that in the shoots?
My creative motto is, “Work is play.” I always think of my shoots as collaborations with the subjects. The point is that I would never impose anything or ask them to do something that I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing myself. It’s about having a good time and creating together something beautiful and meaningful, something that all the people involved can be proud of.

Are they ever nervous? I can imagine if they are, that can make the shoots a little awkward. If so how do you make them feel more comfortable?
I usually work with people who are already familiar with my work, so I don’t really have to direct or control the situation. Most of my work is improvised and spontaneous and I never use my camera as an intimidation tool. It’s about trust, compassion, understanding and collaboration in a very broad sense. It’s about capturing real people, moments and emotions worth sharing with the universe.

You’ve achieved a lot, both as an artist and as a queer figure. What’s next for you?
I have more projects and creative ideas than I could possibly realize in my lifetime. I’m very excited about my next book of poetry based on my recent journals, Satan Youth, and a book of essays and interviews covering over 20 years of my journalism, Gay in the Gulag. I’m also working on a new series of text drawings and abstract paintings, a record album featuring collaborations with some of my favorite artists and musicians, and developing my fashion line.

5 Spots to Take Your New Boo: Los Angeles

Akbar

This Silver Lake gay haunt is a popular stop for a stiff vodka soda and serious bearded eye candy. If you and your boo are looking for a little Bachelor-style one-on-one time, there are a few tables toward the back where you can find out his favorite Netflix Originals. The space itself is pretty small but the chances your knees will touch are pretty big. The jukebox is well-stocked with familiar alt-gay artists (Morrissey, The Cure, Kate Bush) and provides a more mellow soundtrack for some starry-eyed conversation. When open, the back dance room can help with much-needed relief from the stress of getting to know a new boo. The first Saturday of each month is Mario Diaz’s Full Frontal Disco where you can show off how you Hustle. If you’re interested in an unpretentious vibe and music that isn’t the fun but exhausted Britney/Christina/Mariah holy trinity, Akbar is the perfect alternative to the often glammed-up din of the WeHo strip.

Don’t tell anyone: Sidestep the weekend debauchery and go on Wednesdays for Craft Night, where glue guns mingle with drink specials.

4356 W Sunset Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90029
akbarsilverlake.com
(323) 665-6810

Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple

The Pacific Palisades is one of the most lux neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and for good reason. Nestled between Brentwood and Malibu, and just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean is this peaceful oasis with the longest name ever. But don’t let that mouthful fool you, this lush escape is all about simplicity and beauty. There’s plenty of benches for contemplating your next meal and garden pathways for a romantic stroll. The Windmill Chapel and Golden Lotus Archway are just a few lovely sights along the way. Admission is free but consider donating as the landscapes are perfectly maintained. The whole experience is a hushed one, so if you’re looking to whisper sweet nothings into your boo’s ear, this is the place to do it.

Don’t tell anyone: Some of the benches are more private and hidden deeper into the brush. Keep an eye out for those.

17190 W Sunset Blvd Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
lakeshrine.org
(310) 454-4114

République

The first thing you think when you walk into this much-hyped Mid-City restaurant, is that you’ve entered either a holy place of worship or that sprawling Harry Potter cafeteria. It’s possible it’s a little bit of both and that’s totally sweet. It feels new and cool and young, just like your boo. In the morning it’s a bustling bakery. Try the Croque Madame or pecan bar. In the evening it’s a dinner joint with even Frenchier fare like escargots en croûte—just practice rolling your r’s ahead of time. The sea of cerulean decor will sweep you away to a different time, and so will The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill pumping from above. While the price is a little steep, just tell your boo he’s worth it. So one of you be Julia Roberts and one of you be Richard Gere, and pretty woman the shit outta that place.

Don’t tell anyone: Use the valet. The search for parking can be a really downer when you’re dressed to impress.

624 S La Brea Ave Los Angeles, CA 90036
republiquela.com
(310) 362-6115

Griffith Observatory

It doesn’t get more romantic than this fellas. High above L.A., among the canyons and coyotes, is the Griffith Observatory. If you’re feeling particularly outdoorsy, strap on those Timberlands and have yourself a hike up the winding road that leads here. That’s also your best bet to avoid the nightmare that is finding parking. Once inside, learn the basics of physics and astronomy—all those classes you skipped in college—and explore different ways to use a telescope. The view of the city and sky are inexplicable. Tell your new boo how insignificant you feel compared to the universe, like a grain of sand. He’ll be putty in your hands.

Don’t tell anyone: Go at night. Less kids. More stars. More smooches.

2800 E Observatory Rd Los Angeles, CA 90027
griffithobservatory.org
(213) 473-0800

Bar Eightytwo

On the Type A tip? Have an epic Ms. Pac Man battle and make the loser buy shots at this 21+ old school video game arcade, complete with full bar and disco/hip-hop DJs to keep your head nodding while you score (points or otherwise). This place is huge and the nostalgia factor is strong, so soak up an afternoon there and make it a day date. Friday and Saturday nights get packed, and if you have to wait in line to get your Street Fighter fix, you’ve already lost, bro.

Don’t tell anyone: Try something offbeat and play a few rounds of Ice Cold Beer, which has nothing to do with beer and everything to do with steady hands.

707 E 4th Pl Los Angeles, CA 90013
eightytwo.la
(213) 626-8200

Grindr Plays: DJ Samy Jo

My name is:
Samy Jo or Jo if you ask me my Grindr profile name.

I started DJing:
In 2005 when I was 20. And twelve years later here we are.

The first place I DJed at was:
Les Bains Douches Paris. The mythic club from the 80’s. The funny story about that is I never thought about being a DJ when I started working at the club. It’s the fault of the artistic director, Thibault Jardon, who pushed me into it. My first gig wasn’t even planned. They looked at me at 5 a.m. and told me I was playing in 30 minutes. My passion began in that moment.

My musical style is:
Most of my tracks are classified as house, tech house, tribal house, and sometimes I go deep.

My favorite parties in the world are:
The H.I.M Festival in Antwerp, obviously. MENERGY in Paris because all the hot guys go there. Matinee Pervert for the Spanish production. Milk Festival in Amsterdam I just fell in love with. Algeria for the U.S. production. And as I’m currently in London, I’ll add Room Service, Dollar, and Daddy Issues to the list.

The song I play most in my sets is:
The “Sun Rising Up” by Rebeka Brown is a classic for me. And as of last year it’s probably probably “Kwango” by Micha Moor.

The best night out was:
I’ve had a couple since I started going out—you can’t have just one. I’d say in Paris of October 2010 at Garnier’s Opera. The party was the Grazia Magazine Masquerade Ball hosted by Club Sandwich. The place is unreal for a party and I was with some of my craziest friends so…

Right now I can’t stop listening to:
To be honest there are two tracks on my phone I play everyday. “Let the Bitch Know” from my dear Kiddy Smile on Defected Records—even the video is incredible. Also “Read U Wrote U” from RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars: Season 2. I can’t lie!

My musical influences are:
As a DJ, I’d say Pagano, Tom Stefan, Dario Nuñez, Erick Morillo, and Dennis Ferrer.

You can catch me playing at:
I’ll be playing for the Milkshake Festival Pre-party on April 8th in Amsterdam.

You can hear more from me at:
instagram.com/samy_jo orwww.mixcloud.com/samy-jo