Before There Was Tumblr There Was ‘BUTT’ Magazine, Now Getting the Documentary Treatment
If you were an out, urban gay man from 2001 to 2011, chances are you owned a copy of BUTT magazine, the pink-tinged publication that was a combination porn zine and lifestyle mag.
BUTT had sexy snapshots of scruffy average dudes rather than the perfectly manicured models often found in gay publications (and porn). The mag only came out quarterly and featured interviews with gay artists and short prose pieces alongside its sexy pictorials
Now, seven years after the final issue of BUTT magazine, British artist Ian Giles explores the magazine’s cultural impact in a 34-minute film called After BUTT. This BUTT magazine documentary is now showing in London’s Chelsea Space.
Dutch publishers Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom started BUTT magazine from a small basement office in Amsterdam because they wanted a more authentic and grittier representation of gay men. After launching the mag, a collection of various publishers, editors and writers came to work for the magazine and its website.
Giles interviewed the contributors (now in their late 40s / early 50s) about why they worked for BUTT magazine, its cultural aims and even criticisms over BUTT‘s lack of queer representation and diversity. He then assembled their responses into a script and had that script recited by 20-something-year-old actors in a group conversation setting. He filmed that and basically made a BUTT magazine documentary.
Giles says, “I choose to work with guys in their 20s because I wanted a generational shift. … I wanted to transfer narratives between generations.” Put another way, younger gay men may not remember BUTT magazine. Younger guys discussing the mag might interest younger viewers to consider BUTT and its relevance to modern gay life.
Jonkers and van Bennekom stopped publishing the magazine around 2011 because they felt cultural shifts — like “the spread of Photoshop and hipster culture, “the rise of social media” and “the proliferation of porn on Tumblr” — had helped answer many of the questions the publication originally sought answers to.
The magazine’s blog remains archived online (though it hasn’t been updated since January 2016) as does the CLUB BUTT section, comprised of profiles of the mag’s international readers.