Elska Chows Down at Chick-fil-A


So we all have heard about how Chick-fil-A is anti-gay and that we shouldn’t eat there as a boycott… or maybe we should eat there out of defiance. I’m of the latter camp philosophically, but I wanted to actually go to one since I’m here in the States now, and give a review of the experience.


I ended up at a Chick-fil-A in Lake Forest, California. It’s in Orange County, between LA and San Diego, sandwiched between mountains and ocean. It’s Southern California, so it should be liberal and gay-friendly, right?  Well this is Orange County, which I’m told is almost as bible-bashing as Texas, but somehow the palm trees make it hard for me to believe. Isn’t it true what they say about Americans being ok if they’ve seen the sea?

Anyway, I’ll start with the food…


Now I’m no gastro-snob… I like a bit of junk now and again, but Chick-fil-A brands itself as being a bit fresher than the rest, lacking the preservatives and additives that you find in most fast food. I ordered the 4-count chicken strips, with a side of waffle fries, Polynesian sauce, barbecue sauce, and a DDP (Diet Dr Pepper).

The chicken pieces were moist breast fillets, seemingly not processed or reconstituted at all. The breading was simple and not overly done. Quite bland, but rather suited to my taste buds which haven’t developed much beyond a 12 year old’s palate. The chips were good too, chunky enough that you can actually taste that they’re made of potato, but crisp too. Both sauces were overly sweet, but the Polynesian was the sugariest, so one dip was more than enough.

Shall I give it a star rating? Nah, I can’t be bothered, and that’s not really what was interesting about the experience.


As Willam sang in the brilliant “Chow Down at Chick-fil-A” (click to watch the video), “we just want a little meat without your bible”, I was actually shocked to find that I too couldn’t enjoy my lunch without a sermon on the side.

A few tables away, well within earshot, was a group of three kids, probably 11 or 12 years old. They were discussing gay marriage and each trying to put forward nays in the debate. They tried as if in some losing battle to convince themselves that God does indeed hate gays, so they could justify their prejudice in the midst of a fast-changing society. The little boy (precocious in that sort of way that a lot of fags were at that age) was spouting off homophobically applicable Bible quotes, along with their chapter and verse numbers with the accuracy of Eastenders’s Dot Cotton. Having to listen to this spoiled my meal, not just because of what I heard but because it was coming from children. It’s the next generations that are supposed to be the open-minded ones who open society for all of us. Not in the O.C. anyway, or at least not in the sanctuary-like confines of a Chick-fil-A dining room. If I ever come back here, it’ll be via the drive-thru window.

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Interview with Fabulous and Fagalicious Rica Shay for Elska Magazine Issue (01)

We’re excited to announce that Ririca_outtake-1ca Shay is our featured artist for Issue (01) of Elska Magazine. Each issue contains an interview and pictoral with a gay or gay-icon artist, someone with integrity, passion and heart, someone like the lovely nomadic writer-rapper-dancer-poet Rica Shay.

I stumbled across him quite randomly online and decided to check out his music. Once I saw his eccentric cover of Peaches’s “Mommy Complex”, I had to contact him and try to arrange an interview. With me based in London and him (according to his bio) based in LA, it might have been tricky, but he got back to me within 10 minutes of my message to say that he was also in London. I had to be quick though, as he was off to Paris the next morning, so he came to my place, we knocked out some shots in my living room, did an interview, and then went to Bodean’s Clapham for BBQ lunch.

For more on Rica Shay, go tweet at the chap: @rica_shay

rica_outtake-2To subscribe to Elska Magazine, and read our full interview with Rica Shay, head  here: http://bit.ly/1P3t6H5.

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5 Reasons to Visit Lviv Ukraine Now

By Liam Campbell for Elska Magazine 

You’ve heard of Kiev, right? That’s the capital… Crimea? That’s gone now (Thanks, Russia!)… Chernobyl? (Thanks again, Russia – erm, I mean Soviet Union)… Donetsk? (Yes, lots of fighting there now).  And Lviv?

Forget about the rest of Ukraine for the moment. Lviv is where you want to go, not because you’re an adventurous backpacker or hipster trying to shock their mums with their new holiday choice… because it’s a stunning pearl of a European city with loads to recommend. I’ll give you 5 of them now… 5 reasons to visit Lviv:

Semen M. on Ploshcha Rynok, Elska (01) Lviv

Semen M. on Ploshcha Rynok, Elska (01) Lviv

1. The Old Town is gorgeous. And it’s not pretty in an airbrushed postcardy kind of way. Yes it’s quaint, cobble-streeted and old, but not because it was rebuilt to look that way. It is old and it looks old.

2. It’s cheap. Incredibly cheap. A tram ride is 6p/9¢. A beer is less than a dollar. A gorgeous 2-room apartment overlooking the opera house is £20/$30 a night. A taxi from the airport to the city centre is £2/$3 (TIP: Get a local to book the taxi for you or you’ll pay double – still a bargain though).

3. The men (and women if that’s what strikes your fancy) are unbelievably beautiful. Like all of them. Just take a seat at an outdoor café and watch the world go by – it’s like a runway show!

4. The coffee culture is top rate. Locals claim that the first café in Europe was here, and maybe it’s true. There are cafés everywhere, on a morning stroll through the city you can smell it in the air. And what’s best of all is that the cafés here are individual and have real soul. There’s about as many coffee shops per capita here as in New York, but none of them are Starbucks.

5. It’s safe. Lviv is in the West of Ukraine. The fighting is in the East. There’s 1250km/782m between them. You should care about what’s going on, but don’t worry about getting caught up in it.



For more reasons to visit Lviv, check out Elska Magazine Issue (01), dedicated to Lviv: http://bit.ly/1LfQoYQ

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Cover Design Complete for Elska Magazine Issue (01) Lviv

coverelska01_V6_smallAfter  several incarnations of design and cover image choice, we have finally decided definitively on this cover for our first issue. And when I say definitively, I mean that we’ve sent the docs off to the printer.

We started with Sasha K. on the cover (the guy above), but a sexier, almost naked photo that was perhaps a bit too risqué for a cover. We then went to Semen M. standing in front of a shop with some very 80s looking mannequins behind him… but there was just something about his eyes that bothered me. Then briefly we had Taras D. on the cover (an image you’ll see inside on the inside front cover), but it’s low-fi aesthetic was a bit too edgy for the cover. We then went from a white background, to pink, to yellow, to a different shad of yellow, and finally blue. Each issue will have a different background colour.

What made us finally decide on this Sasha K. image for the cover? Well, it’s about that graffiti. It’s a bit controversial. ПТН ПНХ stands for something a bit rude and political, something that fits the mood of Ukraine today for a lot of Ukrainians. There’s an article about it on page 21. Pick up an issue today and read all about it, and see the photos that didn’t make the cover inside.

Subscribe to Elska Magazine here: http://bit.ly/1P3t6H5.

My Marilyn Come to My Slum for an Hour… with Brian C for Elska Magazine

mymarilyncometomyslumforanhour-41I met Brian C. soon after he moved into my neighbourhood, pretty much fresh off the boat from Hong Kong. We wanted to do some sort of shoot, something a bit grimy, nothing more specific or developed than that. Then this line came to my head from the Suede’s old Dog Man Star album… from the track “Heroine”. He sang “My Marilyn come to my slum for an hour”. And that’s what stuck in my brain.

So I proposed that we chuck an old mattress against the wall and add some red-light realness… and there we had the slum part. For the Marilyn part I wanted to add some glam. We tried some glittery nail varnish but it just looked dumb; I pictured a wig and he sprayed hairspray all over, but it looked like an 80s Mink Difference advert .

So we kept our Marilyn vulnerable, sort of “morning after Marilyn”, who just woke up from a heavy night to find herself wondering how she ended up in this place. She needed comfort, so she cuddled a bunny and leant against a bare mattress, desperate for some warmth and softness.

by Liam Campbell

Subscribe to Elska Magazine here: http://bit.ly/1P3t6H5.


To see more images from this series, head to http://bit.ly/1DUWsWZ

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