Eli Schmidt is many things, but the one that is coming up right now is angry.
The photographer and mastermind behind new quarterly magazine FROCK is talking about the state of queer culture in America, one that is infuriatingly exemplified by a gay audience’s eagerness to embrace anything remotely winking in our direction, regardless of intent.
“LGBTQ+ media comes from a very heteronormative perspective. Alt Twitter, OnlyFans, Grindr, Scruff, Jack’d, all these queer digital spaces, the things going on there are entirely disconnected from the rest of the world. It’s the difference between New York and the Midwest,” Schmidt says. “For me, a card-carrying homosexual, I love Twitter and OnlyFans and going out and being around big personalities and queer people and body positivity, and I see none of it represented in the world. And FROCK is a place to finally express it.”
A smorgasbord of fetish and kink and style and the kind of fuck-you attitude of early Gregg Araki films, FROCK Magazine is the antidote to the castrated queer outlets that currently salivate over Christopher Meloni or Harry Styles on the cover of Vogue, in between recaps of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“We really get handed crumbs. I mean, crumbs,” Schmidt says. “And it’s sad. Gay films are [usually] low-budget and independent, and what that keeps saying in a way is, ‘You don’t have any value, so you don’t get anything nice.’ I really don’t like that. I love fashion, I love the fantasy. Where’s my Italian Vogue? Where’s my beautiful indulgent fantasy to look at? I do not want FROCK to be perceived as this bourgeois thing, but I want it to look great. I love everybody that I shoot with. They give so much of themselves that I want them to look the best.”
Over the course of three issues, FROCK has included everyone from Joey Arias to the Caged Jock, Tammie Brown to Lypsinka, Buck Angel to Ari Koyote. Along the way, Schmidt is almost casually reinventing both glossy magazines and LGBTQ+ publishing, not to mention overhauling the aesthetic of pornography. (We’re partial to a shoot Schmidt did with Fort Troff products, personally.)
“What I’m trying to do is take this homoerotic photography history, a visual pillar that we can look back at, and take that lanyauge and update it and celebrate this huge diversity [in the community],” Schmidt says. “There something camp, there’s something sexy about the history of queer photography, and homoerotic photos should not just be men!”
Pointing to the mishmash of colors that comprises the Pide flag, Schmidt wants to remind everyone that the queer community is “the most interesting, exotic, fun aquarium of personality and visuals.”
“Why is there a disconnect between what you’re looking at for yourself and what you’re told to look at?” he says of the stranglehold straight culture has on what we see and read. “I’m not the only faggot here who loves dick. You can go to a restaurant and a girl with titties can serve you chicken so why, as a queer person, is my body not offered the same kind of indulgence and playfulness?”
If anyone can bring back indulgence and playfulness—with a heaping side of dick—it’s Schmidt and FROCK.
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