What does Adrian Lourie, creator and editor of the gay pin-up publication meatzine have inside his home in South London? A sex-swing in the corner? Perhaps a few lewd phallic sculptures covering the wall?
Once inside, nothing especially scandalous leaps into view, but his interior design is far from dull. Hanging on the walls are quirky tapestries and the occasional nude sketch of a man by artist Adam Wilson Holmes. His kitchen is an amusing cross between Andy Warhol and Pride Night at your local club – the general theme of his decor being ‘60s camp – a vibe perfectly expressed in the miniature statue of a monkey holding a rainbow lampshade.
To a select group of gay men, Lourie is the very thing. Founding father of a nude pin-up magazine with a twist, he photographs men who “don’t fit the image of what (gay men) are supposed to look like.” A copy of his latest calendar illustrates this idea, displaying men of a variety of shapes and sizes, something not seen in other gay publications. Some are big-bodied, while others are very skinny. Mr. August looks a good 20 years older than the rest of the models. None of them look like the men we see in pornography. Hence, the name meat.
“It captured the tone of what I was trying to do,” Lourie told INTO. “We were trying to be a bit ironic because meat does sound slightly porny.”
The name, supposedly uttered by Lourie’s ex-boyfriend although they constantly dispute this fact, “struck a chord,” Lourie said. Initially, he was inspired to create meat because of a lack of representation in some of the bigger gay magazines.
“These magazines didn’t display the men I knew or the men I was sleeping with,” he said. And so, meat was born, a celebration of natural, and more importantly, unedited beauty. These men are your friends, your co-workers, and the teachers you never quite got over in secondary school.
Lourie plans to take the magazine in a new direction, with future issues focusing on groups of men, such as London’s first all-gay rugby team, The Kings Cross Steelers, rather than individuals as it does now.
These men are your friends, your co-workers, and the teachers you never quite got over in secondary school.
“[The members of The Kings Cross Steelers] all had really interesting stories about how they came to rugby,” he said. “ I look at stuff that happened in their lives. I thought it was important to tell their story. I wanted to show that they do more than walk around in a jockstrap and kick a ball…or…perhaps throw a ball?”
There is an overwhelming lack of feminine-presenting men in meat. Paired with the image of the hyper-masculine rugby players covering the pages of the next issue, it seems somewhat unhealthy, especially considering the misogynistic, masculine-worshiping environment that gay culture often carries. It almost seems that meat, a magazine that prides itself on being a refuge for the unconventional, is only telling one side of the story.
“I’m willing to photograph anyone who comes forward,” Lourie insisted, in response to this concern. This is true. He doesn’t solicit models, instead, welcomes any and all men who approach him to take part. After initial contact has been made, he arranges a time to meet and take the photos.
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“The calendar wasn’t as diverse as I wanted it to be, but just because I don’t find them, doesn’t mean they don’t fit,” Lourrie said.
Lourie insists on photographing people in their own houses. He likes to have conversations with his models about their motivations. Unlike other zines, such as Kink or Crotch, meat is currently purely picture-based. Although this is set to change with his next issue.
Lourie himself has posed for meat before, but seems uncomfortable at the prospect of doing so again.
“I was in my underwear. It was hideous,” he said in his typically self-deprecating manner. “I burned every copy of it. I would never do it. I hate having my picture taken. Photographers hide behind a camera for a reason. Not something I would ever, ever consider doing again.” The magazine featuring Lourie is still available to be seen online. Tall, tattooed and expertly sporting the hipster beard, Lourie is certainly not ordinary looking. And yet, he does not resemble a model in the traditional sense. He is, therefore, the perfect figurehead of meat.
Whilst meat has received a minor cult following among the ‘bear’ community, with huge numbers of men attending his parties in London, the magazine has gone largely unnoticed in the wider gay community. Although partly due to the fact that it can only be bought online, Lourie cited another reason for this:
“I don’t go to parties or schmooze people. I don’t market myself and the product as well as I could. I feel like a bit of an outsider,” Lourie said. He also touches upon an issue so prevalent in the gay community – the obsession with youth and the new. “I’m also nearly 50. If I were 25 doing this — and pretty — it would be more successful. You still have to look a certain way to win.”
With so many men feeling self-conscious about their body, paired with the culture of muscle-worshiping, it’s easy for the men who don’t embody this image of physical perfection to feel like outcasts in the gay community.
For Lourie, meat is a celebration of the bodies of regular gay men. As he told INTO, “Photographing guys for meat is my attempt at redefining male beauty within our community.”♦
Images via meatzine
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