(Suitcase of Delights… with Colin C from Berlin)

Since it’s Halloween, I automatically thought of this outtake from our Berlin series of Colin C for our holiday boy du jour. When I met Colin he had a suitcase of delights, full of all sorts of weird outfits, such as lederhosen (yes, I know they’re not a Berlin thing), a unicorn backpack, shiny silver underwear, and this puppy mask. The rest did find their way into the mag, but the puppy was too much for me… I happen to be a painfully serious guy, you know!

See more of Colin C and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (02) Berlin (Germany):


(Wanted More… with Cenk Y from Istanbul)

I got a letter a few days ago from a New York based Turkish chap called Adnan saying he loved our Istanbul issue but wanted more Elska Ekstras, particularly so he could see more of Cenk Y. I have to agree that he is stunning. But the funny thing is that when I met him, I found him to be a bit more humble than I expected for such a hot guy. Which only makes him hotter, right?!

See more of Cenk Y and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (06) Istanbul (Turkey):


(Contracts… with Anon from Taipei)

In case you’re wondering, every guy in Elska signs a sort of contract called a ‘Model Release Form’. It states what the pics are for and our rights. It has happened a few times that guys did a photoshoot and then changed their mind about being published. This contract means they can’t change their mind later. The first issue yielded two of these – but it had already gone to the printers and was too late to cut them even if I wanted to.

From Taipei there was another who changed his mind. He was a sweet guy, and even invited my assistant Roman and I over to his place after our shoot to hang out. He just got cold feet, so when later he asked to not be printed, I humoured him. Yes, it is a lot of work to shoot someone and edit their photos only to later not use them, but in this case the Taipei issue was already too big and I needed to make some cuts. He made the decision easy for me. 

And since this image doesn’t reveal his identity, you get a little clue or who may have been one more in the Taipei issue. 

Well you can’t see this guy but you can see loads more of the Taipei boys and read their stories in Elska Magazine issue (05) Taipei (Taiwan):


(Where it Began… with Nikita G from Lviv)

I can’t believe it’s more than a year since Elska began and that we’re about to release our eighth issue, in our eighth city. But here’s where it all began… our first shoot, our first city, our first Elska boy. It was Nikita G in Lviv, Ukraine.

Admittedly, it didn’t start well. Nikita was late and sunset was already in midst, so we had to work quickly, pump up the ISO way too high and just get it done. But he was a pro and it was maybe the fastest shoot ever. ​​

See more of Nikita G and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (01) Lviv (Ukraine):


(Cutting is the Worst… with John H)

One of the worst jobs of editing Elska is having to cut guys from the issues. It’s been a necessity in every issue so far.  In Issue (01) Lviv, two boys were cut. The images sort of lacked character, a result of having only met these guys via Grindr just hours before shooting, with no time even for conversation. Lesson learned. Or rather, that mistake was made again for Issue (02) Berlin, where another last minute addition also resulted in dead-looking photos. Lesson definitely learned now. 

​Guys have also been cut because they never submitted a story. We’ve tried to get guys to submit stories before the shoot, but it’s not as easy as it sounds and lots are reluctant to put in the work of writing before meeting us. Lisbon and Istanbul were particularly difficult in this regard, but Taipei and Cardiff were easy. In Cardiff, more than half submitted before the shoot, and all did eventually.

The problem with Issue (07) was that I still needed to cut someone because there just wasn’t enough space in the issue. The first decision was to put ‘Elska Dehors’ on hiatus to make room. Next we added pages to make this the biggest issue so far. But still I needed to cut someone else, and unfortunately it was John H.

The reason was simply because his story was the last one to be submitted. Perhaps not fair but I didn’t know a fairer way to do it. And since none of the Cardiff boys pissed me off with diva attitudes (Lisbon – I’m thinking of you), I had to cut a genuinely nice, interesting, and cute guy. At least I put him and his story in Elska Ekstra if you’d like to check him out. And if you’re ever in Cardiff, I’m sure you might see John around, either at work in the St David’s Centre (I won’t be more specific than that) or online.

See more of John H in Elska Ekstra (7.1):


(A Yemeni and then an American… with Joejoe F)

Cardiff shoot week didn’t get off to a great start. I arrived into the city on a late Tuesday afternoon and had one shoot already planned for that evening. I Übered it from the railway station to my hotel, the lovely Maison Galles, freshened up and then crossed the street for a coffee and a slice of wienerbrød at Brød Danish Bakery. There I’d relax a bit before starting the first shoot. But then I got a message from that first boy that he was cancelling due to red eyes from hayfever. Whatever!

I was worried that this was a sign of what was to come, that Cardiff would be a place full of flakey people and I’d have a lot of cancellations. So I felt no choice but to go and try to find a last minute replacement. Jamil was the first to come to my rescue. ​

Jamil was part of the large Yemeni community in Wales, or rather his father was from Yemen and his mum was from Scotland. He was up for a shoot but just a bit nervous, claiming that his legs might not look good on film… so I asked him to show me. He stripped off into his underwear and, well, he had fantastic legs – thick, strong and hairy… So I told him not to worry, that the camera would fix whatever he imagined was wrong with them and that I had no interest to make him look anything but beautiful.

Satisfied with that, we sat down to have him read and sign the model release form, and then he freaked out. There’s a line in it that says his pictures can be used for Elska Magazine “and marketing of Elska Magazine throughout the world”. That “throughout the world” part freaked him out. Suddenly he was terrified of his Arab family finding his pictures and not understanding, especially since Jamil wasn’t out to his family. While I highly doubt Elska’s gonna turn up in Yemen, I can’t promise it, so we called it off. Instead we hung out a bit while I looked for someone else. And then came Joejoe F.

Joejoe was originally from Los Angeles but came to Cardiff to attend university, and was in love with it. He said he felt much more at home there than in LA and already was thinking of ways to stay on after finishing his studies… perhaps by finding a British husband?! He was initially less sure about the shoot than Jamil was. But Joejoe did bring a bottle of wine, some very sweet rosé that eventually relaxed him enough to decide to shoot. And no, he wasn’t drunk, and I never got any “I didn’t know what I was doing, please don’t use the pics” message of remorse. The only problem was that I was a bit drunk, ‘cos I get drunk very easily, so a lot of the pics were rubbish. Oops – another lesson learned!  But there were some decent ones too.

So that’s how Joejoe F became the first Cardiff boy shot, a non-Welsh lad but local boy nonetheless, someone who wasn’t born in Wales but loved it just the same. And I’m glad I found him, though I wish I had Jamil too. 

See more of Joejoe and read his story in Elska Magazine Issue (07) Cardiff.