meat is the original, iconic and legendary UK pinup pictorial with an ever-increasing cult status that celebrates (extra)ordinary guys in a classic pictorial format full of stylish, un-retouched, natural photos. So, what you see is what you get. Real guys, as they are.
meat is the ultimate quarterly, homemade gay boy-art-smut zine that is beyond popular in the UK and it is sold in the most spectacular places you could ever image (from the Tate Modern to sex-shops in Soho). It is available in a limited, hand signed and numbered edition of 100 exclusively from www.meatzine.com or as a regular edition from a number of London based and international stockists. Each issue contains a pull-out centrefold and an exclusive 6×4 colour print.
This year meat is becoming seven years old and just announced the publication of the twenty-fifth issue of meat that features the new cover star, Essex boy Adrian, who proves beyond any doubt that 50 is the new EVERYTHING. (#inpraiseofoldermen). Not to mention the ultra hot 2018 calendar that is about to get sold-out.
YASS Magazine met Adrian Lourie, the editor-in-chief and photographer of meat and secured this exclusive interview, for your eyes only.
How has Meat managed to become one of the most successful independent publications in the UK?
Well I’m very flattered that anyone would think that of meat. It’s certainly achieved a bit of a cult status at least, through a lot of hard work and I guess a hunger from our audience for something a bit different.
How did everything start?
Firstly I wanted to produce something in print. When I started 7 years ago there was a real feeling that magazines we’re being replaced by digital downloads. At the same time zine culture and DIY publishing was having a resurgence in popularity. These things really interested me, along with looking at dudes in their underpants of course. I was also a rookie photographer, not long in London and looking for a project.
I was a bit disillusioned with the more mainstream gay media and it’s portrayal of the community in terms of what was considered sexy. It encouraged me to try and present a different point of view.
What keeps you going?
The guys I photograph mainly. It’s always a unique, interesting, fun experience. Their stories, lives, reasons for wanting to be involved are all so different. There’s never a dull moment. Aside from that I guess it’s that guys keep buying it. I have a loyal army of supporters and new readers keep finding the zine all the time.
How has Meat changed since issue 1?
The aesthetic was very minimal initially. The images we’re clean, bright, unstyled and unretouched, usually shot on a plain backdrop. Most of those elements remain but these days I tend to try and shoot as many guys as possible in their own environments. There are very few words in the zine so I like to try and tell a bit more of a story through the pictures.
How would you explain the recent block on your previous Instagram account?
Well full confession, I was probably pushing the limits of their community guidelines in terms of content. I was relying quite heavily on pictures sent to me by guys and it was fun posting their selfies and their stories. There was never any nudity but I’m the first to admit I probably went to far on occasions. Social media being social media I’m fairly sure some people report me regularly however there does seem to be a massive discordance between what is permissible on compared with say Twitter or Tumblr. I find that bizarre. It’s frustrating because we had a massive Instagram audience but shit happens. I’m up and running with a new page now @meat.zine and I’ve used the clean slate as an opportunity to reassess how I want meat to be perceived online. We also have a sparkling new website where we can post pretty much whatever we want.
Your parties in London are very popular. What is the reason behind their success?
We don’t think we’re particularly cool and we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but the music and our choice of DJs is curated very carefully. People definitely respond to that. Also in spite of phone apps, guys still love to go out and drink too many beers and dance. We’re also the only gay party in London that rotates between three venues across London so that brings something different to each party.
Do you feel you have contributed in the evolution of the London gay scene? How has the LGBT scene changed over the last years?
Well in terms of the parties we’ve certainly spawned a lot of pale imitators (hahaha). I think the scene has changed massively and definitely not for the better. Bars and clubs are closing constantly. Soho, which was really a gay village, is decimated. It’s often said that we’ve assimilated to the extent that we no longer need our own spaces, but I couldn’t disagree more. The gay scene in London is now on the outer reaches of East London and it’s certainly much more mixed (not that this is in itself a bad thing).
In terms of wider gay culture, I think there is definitely a bit more diversity in representation since I first published meat, but the prevailing image is still that of perfect, young, muscular porn bodies.
What does a man need to have to become a cover of your magazine?
It’s very much a feeling. I usually know it when I start chatting to or shooting a guy. I can recognise a look or attitude that I think will represent the brand. It’s a commercial product and I have a good instinct for who will sell a particular issue but I try to be as diverse as possible. Our new cover guy, at 50 is our oldest yet, which I’m really proud of.
How difficult was to convince François Sagat pose for you?
This came around through a mutual friend. I’m happy to say it was suggested to him and he was more than up-for-it. No persuasion necessary. We spent more or less 3 days together and had a great wardrobe and shooting space. He’s a sweet, gentle man and it was a great experience. Clearly he’s not your average meat guy but he was very in-tune with the concept behind meat and remains a big supporter. I bumped into him last year at our first Paris meat party and he was having a great time.
What turns Meat on?
Gingers. Well one particular ginger at the moment, but that’s all I’m saying about that.
Would you ever pose naked for your magazine?
I appeared on the back cover once in my undies with my mate, the singer Matt Alber when I was in San Francisco. That’s probably it. I’m a typical photographer, happier behind the camera. I hate having my picture taken. I don’t recognise the person I see.
Which famous person would you love to have in one of your next covers?
I’d love to shoot the actor Russell Tovey. I’d put him on the cover in a heartbeat. Adorable.
Which issue has sold the most?
The most successful was an issue I did last year with The Kings Cross Steelers (the worlds first gay rugby team). I guess the reasons for that are obvious.
You promote diversity and you usually have men on the cover that look like sexy men next-door. Are real everyday men sexier (and more commercial) than models?
Oh, of course! The whole point of meat is to represent the kinds of men I fancy, see in the pub or walking down the street. The vibe is very different to images of commercial models. Most of the guys in meat have never been photographed professionally, let alone in their underpants. I make a great effort to ensure they feel comfortable and safe and encourage them to have fun with the shoot. That in itself is incredibly sexy.
What is the most common request from your readers?
I guess it’s never going to be diverse enough for some people and I do take a lot of criticism for that online. It’s something I strive very hard to improve but I don’t have time to search the streets for guys to shoot. I rely on social media, friends of friends, readers and people who respond to my shout outs. I can only shoot guys who put themselves forward and it’s rare I’ll turn anyone down.
What has been the most flattering comment you have received so far?
I guess it’s comparisons to BUTT Magazine because it was a real inspiration for me. I think the two publications are very different but people have said that meat is a successor to BUTT, which is really flattering.
What does it feel like having sexy men posing naked during a photoshoot in front of you?
Well of course it’s great fun! I’m not going to say it can’t be sexy but there’s a misconception that it’s a very sexual, intense atmosphere. The reality is I’m usually trying to be funny and chatty and informal in order to make the guy feel comfortable and get the best shots of him I can.
What shall we expect for you in the future?
I’d very much like to travel more. I’ve done issues in Paris, Berlin and San Francisco. I’m now planning a Northern English edition for next spring. Maybe something in Scandinavia too.
I’d love to do more special issues like the ones I did with The Kings Cross Steelers and The Gay Men’s Dance Company. I tried to do an issue on guys living with HIV for World Aids Day this year but I think that’s going to be a longer project than I anticipated.
Who knows? There are a limitless number of guys still to photograph in their undies.
Thank you Adrian! YASS loves meat ❤
Don’t miss the party for the meat #25 at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London on 8th December.
*all images courtesy of Adrian Lourie