(Even Asians Don’t Like Asian Men… with Min Hyeok)
So here I am writing this one day before the official release of Elska Magazine Issue (05), our first issue to go outside Europe. So where did we go? We chose Taipei, fast becoming Asia’s unofficial gay capital for its progressive attitudes, strong LGBT rights, the continent’s largest Pride celebration, and a pretty cool president. The next two months will be filled with behind the scenes images and stories from our Taiwanese adventure, but before we get started, I want to get something off my chest.
As you probably already know, we don’t seek professional models for our shoots, preferring to use social media to meet everyday guys. In early February when I started the search for Taipei Elska Boys, I came across the profile of a guy who happened to be a professional model. His Instagram profile had a link to his agency, so I clicked it.
What I found at this agency was a roster of eighteen or so male models, all of whom were Western. Not even one Asian guy in a model agency located in an Asian city! Maybe it was a specialist white-people agency or something, I thought! So I decided to try another agency, and it was the same. Not one ethnic Asian model on the list.
Ok, I’m not so naïve… I fully expected to see a lot of Western guys, but not only Western guys. I remember shooting one lad, Min Hyeok, back in my pre-Elska days and he was very wary, constantly stating how ugly he was and being incredulous about why I’d want to photograph him. At the time I thought he was just acting humble in an attempt to fish for compliments, but now I fear that he really does hate how he looks. So how did it happen? In the West we have an idealised standard of beauty that can seem impossible to attain, but at least we’re not trying to change our race. How does an Asian guy grow up with confidence in a society where all the models aren’t even the same race?
To be honest, before I decided to go to Taipei to do an Elska issue, I wondered if it was the wrong decision, if no one would buy the issue because customers don’t like Asian men. Hell, even Asians don’t like Asian men! But well, I made the issue anyway. Even if I sell zero copies, I have no regrets.
See what happened with our first trip to Asia in Elska Magazine issue (05) Taipei