The latest issue of Elska Magazine is out and it features men and boys from Reykjavík city. Editor says that he’s very satisfied with the outcome.
“I’m really excited. I feel like Elska’s now reached the right balance of imagery and text to create that intimate and revealing feel that I’d always had in mind for it,” says Elska editor, 33-year-old Londoner, Liam Campbell about the magazine’s Reykjavík issue which just hit stores today.
According to Liam it’s the biggest issue so far, counting 156 pages, with 17 “chapters”, each including 6-8 images and a text of 1-3 pages. The stories are all printed in their original languages (unedited Icelandic, French, Turkish, and Brazilian Portuguese) and followed by English translations.
He says that there are fifteen local boys in the final issue, plus two more guys in the bi-monthly “Elska Dehors” series where editorials from other artists around the world (in this case from Paris and Rio de Janeiro) are featured.
“Apart from one guy everyone featured is a Reykjavík resident – but they’re not all blond Viking types! There are actually two French natives and guys originally from Turkey, Brazil, Belgium, and Australia in the magazine. And of course there’s a good range of ages and sizes beyond the ethnic array.
So I think that our readers outside Iceland may be surprised to see that Reykjavík is so multicultural and I think that new readers will enjoy seeing that Elska isn’t another mag full of guys who look like porn stars. Elska is supposed to be a snapshot of a city through its men, not just a particular type of man, and I feel that goal’s been achieved here. I’m really proud of the outcome.”
“The Reykjavík guys made everything so easy. […] The hospitality and enthusiasm made this issue such a pleasure to make.”
Would you say that its your most ambitious work so far?
“In some ways, yes, because we had an enormous amount of shoots. My aim was for fifteen but we had twenty-two in the end, all in one week. On our first day there were six guys all in different locations, and on our second day we took two guys on a long drive down to South Iceland, including some hiking and ridiculously cold and windy conditions. It was a challenge nothing like me or my camera had experienced before.
But in other ways, it felt less ambitious because the Reykjavík guys made everything so easy. One of the guys picked up my assistant Andriy from the airport. Another cooked a lovely dinner. Another even offered to take us to the Blue Lagoon for some relaxation time. The hospitality and enthusiasm made this issue such a pleasure to make.”
He says that he’s very proud of the models, especially a few of the men for soldiering through the cold during some of the outdoor shoots. “Special props go to one of the guys for doing shirtless pics at the harbor of Reykjavík while elderly couples slowed down to stare as they did their Sunday morning “rúntur”. Another had a similar job to do at Reynisfjara in front of a crowd of Japanese tourists, and one guy got totally naked at the bottom of Hvalfjörður during sub-zero conditions, somehow managing to not even look cold. We would do like 20 shots and then he would run back to the car to warm up before doing the next set.”
Unfortunately however not all the models made it to the final cut. “Sadly there just wasn’t room for everyone even though this issue is bigger than the last two. Also, because for the past issues about four or five guys cancelled last-minute, we decided to book extra men for the Reykjavík shoots. But here only one guy cancelled, so we had too much material in the end.
I tried to be fair about who I ended up cutting. We did just over half the shoots indoors, but I put priority on the outdoor shoots since they’re more unique and revealing about the setting. Aside from that, I gave all the boys a deadline of when to submit their personal stories, and those who didn’t submit on time got cut. I was actually really disappointed to lose one of those guys in particular, but the way I did the cut seemed the fairest overall.”
But Liam reassures us that their stories/photos will be available to subscribers online. “Yes. Aside from the main printed mag, we also make downloadable e-zines called Elska Ekstra (each ranging from 40 to 80 pages) that feature extra pics and stories that didn’t make it into the mag, each one focused on a particular Elska boy. These are available separately or included free with the deluxe annual subscription. For the Reykjavík issue, there are six accompanying Elska Ekstras, two of which are dedicated to guys who got cut.”
And he says that the stories are really superb this time. “One is called “Lítill ljóshærður stelpustrákur” (e. Little blonde girlie-boy). It made me think of the way that many gay men today privilege the “straight acting” gay in the same way that jocks bullied the feminine boys in high school. The story is a rare show of girlie-boy pride and I’m so happy to publish something like that in Elska.”
When we first interviewed you in September last year, you said it would be a dream to do an issue dedicated to Iceland. And now you’ve already achieved your goal.
“Yes, I’m also a little sad about that, because doing issue in Iceland seemed like a pipe dream and now it’s already been ticked off the list,” says Liam. “But who knows, maybe in a few years I can do Akureyri or something.”