Magazine article Out

We Love Butt

Magazine article Out

We Love Butt

Article excerpt



No cute muscle boys, almost no celebrities, and lots of skin: How two Dutchmen reinvented the formula of say media.

In early March I received an e-mail whose subject line contained a single word: normal. The e-mail was from Jop van Bennekom, art director and copublisher of the Amsterdam-based magazine BUTT. "What we are really looking for is to interview a clerk, a baker, a butcher, a taxi driver, a gardener, etc.... Would you like to go after a 'normal homosexual,' preferably hot ;-), for a boring interview about gardening?"

For a magazine editor to use words like normal and boring to describe his editorial vision might seem peculiar. But this quirky reasoning underpins the mystique of BUTT, an irregular-length quarterly printed on pinkish paper that van Bennekom has been putting out with his friend Gert Jonkers since 2001. "At BUTT outrageous things are presented as 'normal' and 'normal' things are sexualized," says photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, whose work has often appeared in the magazine.

In October Jonkers and van Bennekom will celebrate over five years of putting out BUTT with the release of BUTT Book. Just shy of 600 pages, the volume is being published by the trendy art-sex press Taschen.

"I wanted to make a magazine about real people," van Bennekom, 35, said one rainy afternoon in the BUTT offices on the Prinsengracht in central Amsterdam. "And they fart, or they have a potbelly, or there's something wrong about them, or there's nothing wrong with them; they have a four-inch dick or it's like 14 inches. You know what I mean?"

From disparate elements and influences-'70s gay pornography, Andy Warhol's Interview magazine and the do-it-yourself aesthetic of punk fanzines, to name a few-BUTT was born. What it has grown into over the past five years is an intriguing barometer of gay meri's thoughts, desires, and experiences.

In BUTT you're less likely to find a story-most of which are presented in unsparing Q&A format-about a big-name chart topper than one featuring one of his strategically underexposed counterparts. The preferred types are almost always from the margins of pop culture: the scrawny garage band singer, the wacky clothing designer, the auteur. They could blow up at any minute, but they're not really intending to, and that's the whole point.

A lot of times subjects are pictured naked, because that's another thing that BUTT does-it makes porn stars of just about anyone. When American Apparel took out its first ad in BUTT the company's pornocentric owner, Dov Charney, starred in it with his pecker out ("We later heard that the ad was especially made for BUTT; we didn't know that," van Bennekom said.) Jonkers himself has bared his posterior in a couple of issues, a pose that camera-shy van Bennekom has yet to assume.

When he was still in his early 20s, Jonkers, the son of a preacher living in the Dutch countryside, nurtured dreams of becoming a famous country music singer. But despite performance and networking trips to Nashville and Los Angeles, things never fell into place. Instead, Jonkers turned to journalism. As editor in chief of a magazine called BLVD, he found himself in need of a graphic designer and hired van Bennekom, whom he knew through Amsterdam gay circles and whose independent magazine, Re-, he quite admired.

The business partners, who now co-own Top Publishers, the company that publishes BUTT, Re-, and the biannual meris fashion magazine Fantastic Man, are fuzzy on the exact details surrounding their decision to start BUTT after they had both moved on from BLVD. …

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