Everyone knows about Los Angeles, California’s perfect weather, beautiful landscapes, Latinx urban gems and winding highways. But if you’ve only ever seen pictures or visited as a tourist, you’ve missed the best part — the eccentric locals who make up its cultural mix. The latest issue of Elska has spent some time with a few captivating queer Angelenos, and the pages of Elska Los Angeles include well-known influencers like comedian Drew Droege, Starrfucker photographer Jeremy Lucido (pictured above) and Keith Glen Schubert, better known as Tammie Brown from the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Elska is a bimonthly male photography, culture and travel magazine that bills itself as “part intellectual queer pinup mag and part sexy anthropology journal.” Every two months it features images and stories from queer men living in a different international location. In the past the magazine has covered Yokohama, Japan; Haifa, Israel; Mumbai, India; Taipei, Taiwan; Bogotá, Colombia; Cape Town, South Africa; and Perth, Australia among others.
“Ultimately Los Angeles is really just a big, diverse, working town like any other,” says Liam Campbell, Elska‘s editor and chief photographer. “It merely happens to be more weighed down by stereotypes than most.”
Campbell says he fears a lot of people might be turned off by the idea of an L.A. issue. “But if people give it a chance,” he says, “they’ll find a place that deserves a lot more love and understanding than it tends to receive.”
Take Tammie Brown, for instance, who in Elska Los Angeles opens up about his childhood with stories of getting his mother to buy him a wig and convincing his principal to let him go to prom in drag.
Similarly, many people might know Droege from his appearances in comedy sketches where he impersonates Chloë Sevigny. But Elska Los Angeles captures Droege in his East Hollywood home as he delivers delightfully colorful thoughts about a typical morning, his musings on Barbara Bush and blitzed avocados.
“I think I was most surprised by the shyness of them,” Campbell says about the more famous faces in Elska Los Angeles, “particularly Tammie and Jeremy. When you’re used to seeing people onstage, where they’re required to be switched on, you might assume they’re gregarious all the time, but it’s often not the case.”
Check out this preview of the queer men featured in Elska Los Angeles:
Campbell didn’t approach Lucido, Brown and Droege because they are well-known. Rather, he says, they contacted him because they like Elska and wanted to take part.
Because Elska is committed to treating everybody equally and presenting them as such regardless of fame, everyone in Elska Los Angeles had to play by the zine’s rules, “meaning that the images are natural, un-airbrushed and spontaneous; and the stories are personal tales rather than regurgitated press releases,” Campbell says.
In addition to the more famous faces, there’s also a refreshing mix of queer men of different races, ages and body types, giving you a clearer, more intimate glimpse of Los Angeles that you’d ever get from glossy magazines or through the Hollywood machine.
The issue is also available for purchase with a companion e-zine called Elska Ekstra Los Angeles — 403 pages of outtakes and behind-the-scenes tales, plus images and stories from four more L.A. guys not featured in the main mag.