Arthur Less is the kind of character I didn’t know I had been longing for. A midtier novelist, he’s self-deprecating, spontaneous and charmingly ignorant of his own charms. This eponymous novel (the one he’s in, not the one he wrote) starts with Arthur mourning the imminent arrival of his 50th birthday, since he’s convinced he’s “the first homosexual ever to grow old.”
Having recently broken up with his younger boyfriend of nearly a decade, Arthur is at a loss as he tries to neatly define what his life has amounted to, and what lies ahead. He reflects on and laments his “exclusion from any list of best writers under thirty, under forty, under fifty — they make no lists above that.” Then on a whim, he accepts a handful of invitations that will take him far away from the one invitation he’s avoiding: his ex-boyfriend’s wedding.
The mixed bag of invites includes a literary festival in Mexico, an award ceremony in Italy, a teaching assignment in Germany, a retreat in India, an article for a men’s magazine in Japan, and a friend’s birthday in Morocco (chapters are divided up by each location).
Throughout his travels, Arthur finds himself in a string of compromising, ego-crushing encounters that seem orchestrated to pick apart what’s left of his paltry self-esteem. Yet as the novel unfolds, the encounters reveal themselves as machinations designed not to break him, but to break him open.
In Mexico, he sits on a panel in which he’s casually asked by the moderator, “What is it like to go on, knowing you are not a genius, knowing you are a mediocrity?” In Italy, he shows up for a literary award ceremony only to find that it’s being judged by high school students. …
The renowned illustrator on redefining sex and fashion, the Manhattan dreamscape and the end of bitchy.
Robert W. Richards began his career as a fashion illustrator, traveling the globe and sketching runway shows, both enamored by and afraid of the clothes he drew. But it was when he returned home to New York for good that he began focusing not on couture clothing but on what lay beneath. Long, lean, sculpted male bodies became the chief characters of Robert’s drawings — all isolated images devoid of background and unnecessary detail. “A good drawing should speak for itself,” Robert told us. His drawings do.
Plenty of nods to fashion or labels are illustrated with whimsy and lightheartedness, yet the boys Robert depicts are often strong and severe. His most recent work — a series of nude boys with designer shopping bags — encapsulates his perfect intersection of fashion and sexuality. Here they are: simple line drawings, sexy yet soft. We spoke to Robert about his arrival to New York, his imagined-turned-real lover, and how he escaped the fashion world to illustrate a world of his own.
How did you land in New York City? I left home, in Maine, when I was very young. Just a little bit shy of 16 in the late ’50s. I went to school in Boston, but always I was conscious I wanted to live in New York. Boston was just a stop along the way for me.
Was it difficult leaving your family and small-town life? My mother didn’t want us to dream, because she had had a lot of disappointments in her life. …
Behind the scenes during our florals shoot for GAYLETTER Issue 10 featuring Andro Gin, Baby Love, Desmond is Amazing, Honey Davenport, Luka Ghost, Ryan Burke and Yuhua Hamasaki
With Performances by Baby Love and Christeene — music by DJ Hannah Lou
Artist Michael The III and his beau, Xavid, present us with a selection of vibrating looks perfect for our next pride celebration.
What does pride mean to you?
Xavid: Pride to me is when we as the LGBTQ+ community come together as one to face bigots, bullies, politicians, institutions and media who disagree with who we are or want to put us in a box and throw us into the chimney just because we don’t fit into their “mould”.We are here, loud and proud, to celebrate who we are, who we love and the ride of our life.
Michael: Pride for me, at least this year, has been a time to reflect on the achievements and progress of our community. I’m less interested in rainbows for the sake of rainbows or viewing us all from a distance. I’m interested in learning and educating myself on the individuals who have got us here. And when it’s not time to look backwards, Pride is a time to remember that if we aren’t throwing bricks, we need to be laying them down on the ground, paving a road for more people to tread, giving more opportunities, empowering more individuals of all types, and making sure it’s love that binds each bring together.
What was your thought process behind the looks in Issue 10?
Xavid: I just wanted to have fun, I wanted it to be colourful, vibrant and with a personality that represents how I am as a gender-nonconforming individual. I wanted to exude “flabulousity” from head-to-toe.
Michael: Well Xavid did a great job styling the looks, and my thought process as the photographer was to reflect the mood of the clothing in each scenario; to imagine the clothes as part of the narrative and of course make it gay, queer, fun, everything we love for pride. …
Hosted by 10 Corso Como with looks by Loewe
A conversation with our latest cover star on the queer influences that shaped him, the joy of rock climbing, and what he wished he'd done when he met the president (not this one, the last one).
Intuition is a big word for Frank Ocean. It’s been a guiding star in his uncharted course to success. His trust in it has led to various awards, beloved albums, even a surprise magazine filled with two years of globetrotting adventures.
Believe it or not, intuition also told us that one day Frank Ocean’s path would cross our own. So when the opportunity arose to collaborate — on the cover story for our 10th issue, no less — we were, on some level, not surprised. We were, nevertheless, nervous, excited and well aware that we needed to create something special. Frank is one of those people who makes you want to be your best.
As Collier snapped her frames at a furious pace, we stood by trying to take it all in. At one point, Frank looked over and, for whatever reason, we responded with enthusiastic thumbs-up. A cheesy move, yes, but once we chatted a few days later for the interview, we quickly realized that Frank is not the kind of person looking for a slick performance from everyone he encounters. He was thoughtful, open and earnest. It was a delight getting answers to the questions we’ve wanted to ask him for years.
Hey, Frank. How is 2019 treating you? Everything’s cool. Everything’s good. Been keeping busy.
What’s been filling up your days lately? Same old: making things, a lot of time in the studio between here [New York] and L.A. I split my time. …
A field trip to Austin, TX, with creative superhuman Paul Soileau
Back in 2012, I saw Christeene perform at her very first gig in Brooklyn at Glasslands Gallery. It was a high-energy terrorist drag show with lots of mooning and stage diving. The crowd went wild. By that time, I was already familiar with her music, videos and filthy lyrics:
I am your new celebrity
I am your new America
I am the piece of filthy meat
That you take home and treat to yourself
— “African Mayonnaise” (2012)
But it’s Christeene’s live show that won me over and left a real impression. The audience interaction I found poignant and sincere; same with her no-bullshit approach to issues of gender politics, censorship and the policing of our queer community. It was raw, dirty, entertaining and enlightening, all at the same time. Enchanted, I decided I’d never again miss a chance to see her perform.
Christeene and I met socially a number of times, in typically late-night affairs, before or after her appearances. We’d even had our pictures taken together. But I knew very little about the person behind the act, an Austin-based native of Louisiana named Paul Soileau. So when an invitation arrived from the Museum of Human Achievement in Austin, I knew right away that I needed to go on a field trip with Christeene, to document and investigate.
When Paul and I met on my first night in Austin, it felt like déjà vu, like maybe we were separated at birth. …
In pursuit of pop stardom, the German-born singer left the suburbs of Cologne for the promise of Los Angeles. Soon, she’ll need no introduction.
“It’s crazy to think my first single came out only a year ago.” Kim Petras took a breath to consider the whirlwind. Six years ago she left Germany and headed to L.A., where, like countless others before her, she assumed her celebrity status awaited.
She wasn’t wrong. Within the last few months alone, she attended the MTV Video Music Awards for the first time, performed her very first stadium show (at Arthur Ashe Stadium) and took the stage at Billboard’s annual Hot 100 Festival. Now, her full-length debut is set to drop in 2019. This may all sound like the candied precursor to a glorious pop career, but despite the synthetic, sugary goodness of her music, arriving wasn’t a cakewalk. “What I have,” Kim said, “I worked for it.”
Following an absurdly busy August in New York, Kim returned to L.A. in time to celebrate her 27th birthday, at Disneyland no less. She spent the day with close friends and a bunch of gummy edibles, shutting off her phone for an adventure in the park. She needed to unwind before what might be an even busier autumn, including an upcoming tour with Troye Sivan. “It felt great to just be a person,” she told me, remembering the edibles. “I just needed a day to be stupid.”
She says all this without an ounce of irony — a key facet of her brand. As we chatted, she called herself “basic,” citing her abiding interests in Pumpkin Spice Lattes and ramen noodles. …
Our favorite photographs that went to print in 2018
Creating an independent print publication in 2018 means lots of challenges, especially when it’s queer focussed. Producing stories for it, self-sustaining it, finishing it on time…it’s a trying, complicated process to turn ideas in your head into a high-quality finished magazine. Thankfully we have no lack of ideas (we have too many!) that we want to turn into stories.
This year we put out two printed issues, with 4 covers, photographed by Mickalene Thomas, Vivienne Maricevic, Luke Gilford and Ben Zank. It has brought us much satisfaction to print and share with you so many powerful photographs featuring LGBTQ people from around the world, captured by some of our favorite artists and creators. Each one contributes to the GAYLETTER legacy.
We decided at the year’s end that it might be nice to share some of our favorite images that we produced and commissioned from the past 12 months. It was tough narrowing it down to just 15. We love every image we print, but you can’t have a ‘best of’ without narrowing it down to a handful of the best.
So without further ado, here are our top 15 photographs from GAYLETTER Magazine from 2018. See you in 2019!
CHARLENE PHOTOGRAPHED AT HER HOME — THE INFAMOUS CASA DIVA IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, 2018. PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOMMY KHA
MARKUS, SY, HECTOR AND JAN CARLOS PHOTOGRAPHED IN THE LOWER EAST SIDE, NEW YORK, 2018. PHOTOGRAPHY BY CODY CHANDLER
AMANDA LEPORE PHOTOGRAPHED AT THE GAYLETTER OFFICE IN THE LOWER EAST SIDE, NEW YORK, 2018. …
Featuring Deon — Hair by Greg Cooper Spencer — Photography by Vincent Dilio — Directed by Boswell Scot and Abi Benitez — Music by Gess + 88MPH