Editor Gert Jonkers and creative director Jop van Bennekom have been running Butt magazine, the subversive and devilishly entertaining men’s culture pub, for over five years now. Since the beginning, they’ve pushed the envelope in men’s fashion coverage, snapping everyone from Bernhard Wilhelm to Marc Jacobs to Steven Galloway in various states of undress while peppering them with off-the-cuff questions that would make their mothers wince. The latest from the Amsterdam-based publishing duo is Fantastic Man, a magazine that’s not as controversial but still titillates with its fresh mix of coverage on today’s man. Jonkers spoke with Jason Campbell about his fantastic view on contemporary male identities.
JCR: Who is a FM? I’m puzzled by your recent choices for cover boys Rupert Everett and Giles Deacon.
GJ: A FM is a man with great character and personal style. They both look good too, I think.
JCR: How important is fashion for this man?
GJ: Oh, that really depends. For some of them it’s really important, for others it isn’t. I mean, I would think that they’re all fascinated by style and taste, but not so much fashion-obsessed. Take Jonathan Adler in FM 2: I don’t think he finds fashion very important, at least not while dressing himself, cause he’s decided on a uniform of Lacoste polo shirts and chinos or Levi‘s cords, and that’s been it for the last 20 years or so for him. Is he obsessed with style? Obviously. Does he care about fashion and what new men’s styles John Galliano or Paul Smith have been showing on the Parisian catwalk last week? I doubt it.
GJ: No thoughts. It’s all about the individual being comfortable, and if there’s one thing we don’t do in FM, it’s glamorize a certain model’s physique as ideal. So it’s impossible to say “this is the body type we endorse” since one man could be stocky and fantastic, and another might be an amazing shrimp. It’s really not so much about the look as it is about who they are and what they stand for. A beautiful loser is still a loser to me.
JCR: In your estimation, is gay and straight identity blurring?
GJ: I’ve never thought about it, but well, I think everything goes these days and visually nothing is really seen as “gay” anymore — I mean, is there still such a thing as a “clone?” Well, yes, there may be but the contemporary gay clone looks very straight, and straight men aren’t afraid to look flamboyant (assuming that flamboyance may be perceived as gay). So, yes: it’s all up for grabs, and that’s interesting.
JCR: How is masculinity defined from a FM perspective?
GJ: Independence, pride, being unique, daring to stand out, strength, power. This applies to certain women, too. But I think they’re signs of masculinity.
JCR: Why so many references to the ’80s in the FM identity?
GJ: Really? Are you talking designwise? Of course we’re fans of some of the timelessly beautiful magazine designs from the past, but that could just as well be ’60s or ’70s. Otherwise, what maybe makes FM look ’80s is the fact that the men who pose in FM are older than the average model you see elsewhere, and I think that in the ’80s they used older models than nowadays. So the fact that we use men with character as our models (and they’re usually over 30 or something, ’cause what sort of character does the average 17-year-old model have?) may give you an ’80s feeling, but that’s not deliberate. We’re not at all trying to be retro.
JCR: Is FM the commercial answer to Butt‘s anti-establishment stance?
GJ: FM is a style and fashion variety of what Butt is, a magazine about real people, not a fantasy world full of dreams, Photoshop-excess, and visual fiction. When I was young, my mother always said, “Don’t bother to lie because the truth is usually way more interesting.” I try to stick to that.