ILLUSTRATION BY DEVIN WALLACE
Little Joe Magazine
A chat with Sam Ashby, the creator of the best damn film magazine in the whole wide world.
What are some of the worst queer films you’ve seen? Sometimes worst equals best. I love bad films. Especially on aeroplanes.
What’s a couple of best? I can’t define what is best, but recently Rosa von Praunheim’s City of Lost Souls proved to be an overlooked classic.
When was queer cinema at its peak? The early-mid-90s, a time when a talented group of young queer filmmakers found themselves with a subject (AIDS) and an anger which found its voice in some incredible films that are now collectively termed ‘New Queer Cinema’. Those are the films I grew up with that changed my view on the world. Todd Haynes‘s Poison, Tom Kalin‘s Swoon and Gus Van Sant‘s My Own Private Idaho are still faithful companions of mine but I have recently been enjoying the work of John Greyson, whose Zero Patience I screened in London recently. I don’t think people were ready for an obscure Canadian AIDS musical about ACT-UP and debunking the zero patient theory, but I adore it and it deserves reappraisal.
What were 3 of your favorite movies as a kid? Stand By Me, Pretty Woman and Dirty Dancing. I have three older sisters so was exposed to these films earlier than perhaps I should have been.
Where did you grow up? Rural Hampshire
Where do you live now? London
When did you start Little Joe? We launched the first issue in Spring 2010, but I had the idea a couple of summers before that. It was a long and arduous road!
You write about a lot of obscure forgotten queer films, how do you find them? Various ways, mostly it’s a process of following threads, but sometimes they just land in my lap.
Have you ever wanted to write a movie yourself? Absolutely! I’m always daydreaming ideas.
Do you think queer people are represented realistically in current cinema? Do you really need me to answer that?
Who designs the magazine? Me and my buddy Martin McGrath. He came on board for the last one. Before that it was all me but it was getting a bit much! I like to collaborate, it’s helping me to be less of a control freak.
What do you do when you’re not making the magazine? I design film posters and dream about making films rather than making posters for other people’s films.
You’ve been hosting film screenings all over Europe and in New York, what do you want people to take away from these screenings? The feeling that they’ve discovered something really special, and a little bit of an education.
A lot of your films are pretty racy, do you intentionally chose films with lots of nudity in them or is that just par for the course for queer films? Really? I hadn’t noticed!
Do you recall any film that made you very horny after you watched it? I used to masturbate to Derek Jarman‘s Sebastiane when I was a teenager. I’m trying to think of any that have had that effect on me recently but sadly none are coming to mind. I have been desensitised by hardcore pornography!
How do you find the contributors to your magazine? Some of them find me, but others are just people whose work I love that I have asked. Don’t ask, don’t get – that’s something my mother taught me!
How do you fund the magazine? The first one was self-funded from doing the posters, and it has sort of provided its own momentum from there. Not that it’s easy, people very generously do things for free and it doesn’t pay any bills. We’re looking to get funding for future issues so that we can begin to pay our contributors and print more copies.
Where can you buy it? Arty bookshops or from our website!
Do you like to prefer to smoke weed or drink alcohol when you watch a film at home? Oh I love to be drunk in the cinema. I was shitfaced on whiskey watching Scream 4 and it was the best film I had ever seen, ever ever. I’ve not watched it sober so can’t stand by that statement. At home I like weed with TV.
Do you go on cinema dates often? On occasion. And if you already know and like one another, there is nothing better.