The Reykjavík issue of bi-monthly male photography, culture and travel publication ELSKA is getting its sixth reprint. Each issue is shot in a different city with local boys posing and telling their stories. To this date, the Reykjavík issue remains the most popular. We talked to editor and chief photographer Liam Campbell about the reprint and his upcoming plans for ELSKA.
This is your sixth reprint of the ELSKA Reykjavík issue. What do you think makes the issue so popular?
“I’ve asked some people about why they think Elska Reykjavík is our top-selling edition, and some suggest it’s because Iceland has the best looking men, but truly I think it’s because Iceland is such a hot destination for gay travellers. We had a table at RuPaul’s Drag Con in New York last month and loads of people were coming up, looking at a table full of a dozen different Elska cities and picking up the Reykjavík one first. They’d say things like, “Oh I love Iceland” or “I really want to go there”. Then they’d buy the issue either to remind themselves of happy memories from a holiday there, or to give them inspiration for a future one.
Plus because we have an Icelandic name, I suppose people instinctively think that Elska Reykjavík is our flagship edition and they want that to be their first copy.”
You’ve changed some things for this edition. What can people expect?
“Elska Reykjavík was our third ever release and frankly back then we were a little unpolished. I wanted the latest reprint to reflect our current design, but I also felt like I could take the opportunity to replace many of the pictures so that people who have the original might find it worth buying the new one too. We also changed the cover, which is the most noticeable change.”
“I’ve asked some people about why they think Elska Reykjavík is our top-selling edition, and some suggest it’s because Iceland has the best looking men, but truly I think it’s because Iceland is such a hot destination for gay travellers.”
When will the issue be out and how can people buy it?
“The new version will be released today, on 1st November, the same date when we release our fourteenth issue, Elska Haifa (Israel). It can be ordered online from www.elskamagazine.com, and GayIceland readers can use the discount code KIRSIBER for 10 percent off.”
Are there any plans for a second Iceland issue?
“It really is something I’d love to do. I wouldn’t want to redo Reykjavík though, so the obvious choice would be Elska Akureyri. However I’m not sure we’d be able to find the 12-15 guys there willing to be photographed and write a story for us. If you’re out there though, get in touch and we’ll keep you on the radar.”
You’ve acquired material from all over the world for the magazine. What sort of insights has this given you into the gay culture of different countries and areas?
“From making Elskas all over the world I’ve learned that gay culture is something real and legitimate. It has a universal quality, much of which is rooted in Western gay culture, but then each country adds its own nuances. I think that it’s the differences that make discovering each city and getting to know its local people most interesting, but it’s the universal aspect that makes us all feel like one community.
To give an example, with the most recent edition, shot in Israel, it seemed that being gay is a real asset toward bringing the country’s two biggest groups – Arabs and Jews – together. Even though at home with their families they’re speaking different languages, listening to different music, and eating different foods, when they’re out at a gay club, everyone’s mixing, chatting, and dancing together to Britney. While every Elska reveals something different about a culture, it also shows how we’re the same, and I find that to be very uplifting.”
“… with the most recent edition, shot in Israel, it seemed that being gay is a real asset toward bringing the country’s two biggest groups – Arabs and Jews – together … when they’re out at a gay club, everyone’s mixing, chatting, and dancing together to Britney.”
Do you have any dream locations that you haven’t been able to make happen yet?
“The place that comes to mind first is Papeete in Tahiti. While partly I just fancy spending some time on a tropical island, it really does have probably the most vibrant gay culture in the Pacific (not counting Honolulu).
However, it would be a ridiculously expensive issue to make, probably prohibitively so.
I’d also really like to do a sub-Saharan African city like Dakar or Accra, but for the moment I fear it would be too dangerous, not so much for us but for the men who take part in the issue because of rampant homophobia on most of the African continent.”
What else is on the horizon for ELSKA magazine?
“Well, in 2018, after fourteen issues, we will finally be working in not one but three cities in the Southern Hemisphere.
Next week we’re heading to Colombia to shoot, and the Elska Bogotá will come out early in the new year.”