Get some meat — a Conversation with Adrian Lourie about his Zine & 2019 Calendar

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday October 4, 2018

With its title in bold, lower-case typeface and its untouched photos of naked or nearly naked guys, the zine meat harkens back to underground publications from before Stonewall. But the creation of successful London photographer Adrian Lourie, now in its eighth year, offers a fresh way of looking at gay men that continues to challenge the stereotypes of what makes gay men sexy in the digital era.

As its website puts it: "meat (yeah, we don't capitalise it, cheers), is a smoking hot celebration of (extra)ordinary guys in a classic pictorial format full of stylish, un-retouched, natural photos. We celebrate real guys — as they are."

As the publication's editor and chief photographer, Lourie finds his subjects via his blog and social media outlets, such as Facebook. Considering himself a purist, he never tells his subjects what to wear or how to stand, nor does he retouch any of his photographs. His goal is to redefine what it is to be a sexy gay man.

"Representing our community is always going to be a work in progress but the meat calendar is a great opportunity to celebrate the bodies of real men," he says.

And with the ongoing success of his zine, comes his annual calendar that features "12 regular guys of different shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds have stripped off to prove that real men have got it going on."

EDGE spoke to Lourie recently about the 2019 calendar (his fifth) and what's next for meat.

Why meat?

EDGE: Why did you choose to name the magazine meat?

Adrian Lourie: It was chosen by myself and a friend. We definitely created it with a sense of irony. I had this rather grand idea of producing a sort of thinking man's smut and I liked the connotations with pornography. I also liked the idea that it was pretty basic. I knew it would scan great on a T-shirt too.

EDGE: Tell us about meat magazine?

Adrian Lourie: meat is a gay pinup magazine in the style of the 1950s physique pictorials. It's primary, if not almost exclusively, picture based and printed quarterly. The guys featured are all real men. I avoid using "models" and try to get a diverse bunch of blokes for each issue.

EDGE: How did the idea for the calendar come about?

Adrian Lourie: I see these (gay) calendars full of perfectly toned and muscled, professionally lit and Photoshopped men and I'm like, these guys don't speak to me. I don't think there's anything wrong with them per say, but I wanted to try and present a different point of view: "ordinary" guys photographed naked and in their own homes and not retouched.

Different "real" guys

EDGE: What do you look for in a model for the calendar?

Adrian Lourie: I've been publishing the calendar for about five years now and each year I try and make it more diverse than the year before. In all honestly, I struggle to find 12 guys who are brave enough to be photographed naked (sometimes full-frontal) and with no retouching. I'll pretty much take anyone that asks to be in it. Of course, within the project, I have an aesthetic and I would never say it's going to represent everyone, but I do my best to show a range of different "real" guys whilst staying true to the project.

EDGE: Are any of the photos Photoshopped?

Adrian Lourie: I absolutely don't Photoshop them at all. Look, if someone has a spot they are conscious of, I'll take that out, I'm not a fascist. I may redo some contrast or color correction, but I print the pictures as they are seen in the camera. In truth, my retouching skills are rubbish.

EDGE: As a photographer, what make a good model for you?

Adrian Lourie: Someone who's up-for-it! In terms of meat, it's about being natural and not too posed. Of course, it helps for them to be comfortable in front of the camera and I totally have the gift of gab, which helps with that. I'm going to toot my own horn and say I can pretty much take a decent shot of anyone.

A different voice

EDGE: What is the typical process like on the day of a photoshoot?

Adrian Lourie: I've usually prepped the guys via email and then I just show up and shot the photos. I always try to shoot guys in their own surroundings, because it adds to the story. We usually decide together when I get there on a good location.

EDGE: How does "meat" fit into the LGBTQ community?

Adrian Lourie: I hope that it's presenting a different point of view on what makes gay men sexy to traditional gay media. It's far from perfect and I do get a lot of negative feedback online from naysayers and it's not going to save the word but it's a different voice. I hope it has an impact on how gay men see themselves, even if it's just within the guys I've photographed and the guys who buy it.

EDGE: In running meat for the last 8 years, you must have seen a lot of meat. Any worth mentioning?

Adrian Lourie: Oh, I've seen SO much meat! I should really count how many guys I've shot, it is definitely hundreds. They're all amazing, some have been around for an issue and some have become brilliant friends. I couldn't single any one of them out. I have loved being able to meet guys and produce editions in San Francisco, Berlin and particularly Paris. The guys for this new issue and calendar have been amazing. They're all so into it and are so proud to be featured.

EDGE: What are your dreams and aspirations for meat's future?

Adrian Lourie: I've been doing it pretty much single-handedly for 8 years. That includes self-funding and self-publishing all 36 issues. I really don't think I get nearly enough credit for that! [he jokingly says] I'll keep going as long as folks buy it. Honestly, I'd love to sell more copies because I definitely think there's a wider audience than I reach.

I'd also love to do more issues in the USA! Australia is somewhere I'm definitely thinking about now. I think there's a sexy coffee table book from the project too.

For more information and to purchase the calendar, visit the meat website.