Image

Allir Elska Berlin [Everybody Loves Berlin]… with Raphael K from Elska Berlin

This week we ran the sixth re-printing of our Elska Berlin edition, meaning there’s now more copies of it in the world than any other Elska issue. Although technically Elska Reykjavík is the best seller when you include download copies, Berlin is the hard copy king. And really, Elska is best enjoyed in its classic printed form.

So how come everybody loves Berlin? I know that when I first went there at the tender age of nineteen, I wasn’t totally in love. But I was an innocent sort of kid. Imagine Blair St Clair but with chest hair. I remember going to a random gay bar and being genuinely shocked to see porn showing on the TVs. And then when I went to go find the loo, I instead found a dark room filled with roaming hands and slurping sounds. It was of course not just a dark room but a darkroom, and honestly I never heard of such a thing before. But I could get into it!

Over the years I returned to Berlin a few more times, and discovered that the debauchery I’d found previously was nothing. One memorable night of Elska Berlin Shoot Week involved me going to lab.oratory where a friend and I hung out totally naked at the bar, drinking and chatting. I still have my innocent side though – I never dared to wander off from the bar area into the adjoining rooms, too scared I might slip over on a jizz-slick and slide into some sort of fisting accident. I was however tickled to see, when I went to the toilet, that some of the urinals were replaced by a couple of portly men sat on the floor with their mouths agape. For the record, I used a “normal” porcelain-style urinal. I was just too unsure about the etiquette surrounding the use of a human pissoir.  

So I don’t know, maybe Elska Berlin is so popular because people are expecting more of the naughtiness that Berlin is famous for. But what I discovered when shooting Elska Berlin was that the local guys are as boring as anywhere else! Most guys I met don’t spend their evenings at sex parties. Rather they’re home watching TV, hanging out with friends, or maybe getting a bite to eat. The wonderful thing about Berlin isn’t that it’s depraved, but rather than you can find depravity if you want it. I don’t want to make a wall analogy, but there’s a great sense of freedom here, where all different kinds of people can come together and be themselves. As in Berlin, everybody is welcome in Elska, so it really is a perfect Elska city.

Elska Berlin is 152 pages and contains photospreads and stories from fifteen local men. Grab a copy of it from bit.ly/elskaberlin

Advertisements
Image

Hey Berliners and Berlin vistors,

Elska will have a table at the Miss Read Book Fair in Berlin, 14-16 July. Come say hello, pick up a copy of one of our books, and don’t be scared to ask for an autograph on a boob or bum-cheek! 

Oh, and if you want to know the times, I’d like to know too. But based on previous years, it was open to the public 12pm – 7pm on the Saturday and Sunday only. Check missread.com for updates.

Image

(Kiss it better… with Marc Y from Berlin)

When I first looked at the photos from the Marc Y session for our Berlin issue, I felt a sense of loneliness. I also felt an urge to go into the page and give the boy a hug, or at least wrap a warm blanket around him. I’m not sure if my instinct to console is normal or common, but if I try to analyse my history of attraction, I tend to be drawn to those who I deem to be in need. I suppose I get off on being wanted. I also enjoy being lusted after (which makes me feel at ease) more than lusting (which makes me neurotic). And I actually prefer a clingy moves-too-fast guy than one who plays hard-to-get.

I’m sure this is quite a terrible thing to admit, but when I was at uni there was this deaf boy I was mad for. He worked at the HMV on High Street Birmingham and I would go in there pretending to browse with the hopes of seeing him. But whenever we met we had little to talk about. Sure, he was cute but he was also quite dim and we had nothing in common.

Someone suggested that my attraction to him was because he was looks-wise out of my league, but his deafness lowered him from a 9 to a 6 and thus made him attainable for me. A dreadful concept, and I’m thankfully sure it’s not true (at that time our looks rankings would have been roughly similar). Incidentally I also find boys with glasses and hearing aids super hot. Nerd fetish I propose rather than some ‘disability’ fetish.

I’m also drawn to people who are a bit sombre, pouty, relaxed; boisterousness is a big turn-off. A gregarious life-of-the-party type is my nightmare. As I write this I realise that I’m the very sort of person that I’m drawn to. I’m quiet, thoughtful and smile only when it’s sincere. And I’m also someone who could do with a hug, a warm blanket, and someone to kiss it better.

To see the rest of Marc Y’s pics, check out Elska Magazine Issue (02) Berlin and also Marc’s dedicated Elska Ekstra e-zine, both available via www.elskamagazine.com

We Need To Talk About Colin… with Colin C for Elska Magazine

Colin C was the last guy we shot in Berlin for Elska Issue (02). In fact we didn’t know we’d be shooting him at all until the last minute. Rica Shay, who I’d photographed and interviewed for Elska Issue (01), had just gotten back from a trip to Berlin. When I told him that Berlin would be the setting for the next issue, Colin was at the top of his list of who I must meet. So, Rica put us in touch.

I didn’t hear from Colin until the second-to-last day, so there was no time to really plan a location or anything. I just told Colin to get a bunch of clothes together, whatever he fancied, whatever represented his personal style, and meet us outside our flat in Prenzlauer Berg at 4pm.

When he arrived and unzipped his bag, there was menswear and womenswear, a kit from the gay rugby kit he leads (the Berlin Bruisers), some lederhosen (yes we know this isn’t Berlin-accurate culturally), and this long-sleeve kiss-covered half-shirt from H&M.

BLOG_Elska02Berlin-20

 

While we often say that Elska shoots ‘regular guys’, it’s hard to say that Colin is very ‘regular’. What we mean is that we don’t hire professional models, but neither do we specifically look to shoot guys who look ‘normal’. Whatever your style, you’ve got to admire someone with the balls to walk around with a glittering rainbow unicorn adorned backpack (buy the issue to see him wearing the backpack and nothing else).

Colin is the poster-boy for pride. Having him sashaying around like he doesn’t give a fuck makes me not give a fuck. It makes me feel OK as I am. Elska isn’t here to shoot one type of guy, but any and all types. And when someone sends us hate saying that the guy with the small patch of hair on his upper back on page 94 of Issue (01) “is disgusting and makes me want to vomit”, it only makes me find that guy more beautiful. Or when someone comments that the guy on page 27 of Issue (02) is “too skinny and not even handsome”, I want to hug him not out of pity but out of pure desire. And it makes me feel prouder that I’m no supermodel either ‘cos we are all beautiful as we are.

Happy holidays to you all and I wish you lots of love!

Liam

 

For more about Elska, see www.elskamagazine.com

Image

(We Need To Talk About Colin… with Colin C from Berlin)

Colin C was the last guy we shot in Berlin for Elska Issue (02). In fact we didn’t know we’d be shooting him at all until the last minute. Rica Shay, who I’d photographed and interviewed for Elska Issue (01), had just gotten back from a trip to Berlin. When I told him that Berlin would be the setting for the next issue, Colin was at the top of his list of who I must meet. So, Rica put us in touch.

I didn’t hear from Colin until the second-to-last day, so there was no time to really plan a location or anything. I just told Colin to get a bunch of clothes together, whatever he fancied, whatever represented his personal style, and meet us outside our flat in Prenzlauer Berg at 4pm.

When he arrived and unzipped his bag, there was menswear and womenswear, a kit from the gay rugby kit he leads (the Berlin Bruisers), some lederhosen (yes we know this isn’t Berlin-accurate culturally), and this long-sleeve kiss-covered half-shirt from H&M.

While we often say that Elska shoots ‘regular guys’, it’s hard to say that Colin is very ‘regular’. What we mean is that we don’t hire professional models, but neither do we specifically look to shoot guys who look ‘normal’. Whatever your style, you’ve got to admire someone with the balls to walk around with a glittering rainbow unicorn adorned backpack (buy the issue to see him wearing the backpack and nothing else).

Colin is the poster-boy for pride. Having him sashaying around like he doesn’t give a fuck makes me not give a fuck. It makes me feel OK as I am. Elska isn’t here to shoot one type of guy, but any and all types. And when someone sends us hate saying that the guy with the small patch of hair on his upper back on page 94 of Issue (01) “is disgusting and makes me want to vomit”, it only makes me find that guy more beautiful. Or when someone comments that the guy on page 27 of Issue (02) is “too skinny and not even handsome”, I want to hug him not out of pity but out of pure desire. And it makes me feel prouder that I’m no supermodel either ‘cos we are all beautiful as we are.

Happy holidays to you all and I wish you lots of love!

Liam

For more about Elska, see www.elskamagazine.com

Image

(Berlin is More Than Filth… with David P from Berlin)

I met David P for a shoot at his home near Warschauer Straße station. When I arrived it brought back memories of a weekend trip I took here a few years back. At the time I was living in Warsaw, and Berlin was a quick, cheap and easy train ride away.

Then I stayed at a gay hostel called Gay Hostel, out in Schöneberg. It was, by the way, directly opposite Eisenherz, a shop that now sells Elska. I remember going in there, having a good browse, and just loving the place. I had no idea that I’d end up making a mag that would be on their shelves one day.

Anyway, me and some of the other guests teamed up and decided to go for a drink. After some debating it was decided that we should go to lab.orartory, a place that was said to be very “only in Berlin”. While I knew that there would be some debauchery going on, I didn’t realise until I arrived that you were supposed to be naked. Yet the idea of propping up the bar with a beer wearing nothing but shoes was not scary to me but rather, well, interesting. I was up for the experience, and with my new international hostel posse, I felt in safe company.

Located at Berghain, a former power station turned mega club, outside of which we shot Luca R for Elska Issue (02) Berlin, The Lab is in the depths of the complex. On arrival you are given a black bin liner into which you put everything but your shoes. Then you hand the bag over to someone who writes a number on your chest that you’ll use to order drinks against and claim your clothes at the end of the night.

I started with a couple of drinks, staying in the bar area, but soon felt curious enough for a wander. I recall seeing an old bathtub in the middle of a dark room, inside of which was a naked man fiddling around with himself. Other areas were more typical darkrooms, but less dark and much bigger. I was only there to look, trust me, and there was a lot to see.

The biggest impression of the evening was left, however, by a trip to the loo. There was this wall of about six urinals, the sixth of which wasn’t made of porcelain but rather was a large, middle-aged man sat on the floor with his mouth wide open. I stopped for a moment and considered which urinal to use, but in the end I was far too British about it and just assumed that it would be impolite to piss on some dude without being directly asked to. By this point the evening couldn’t shock me any more, so it was time to get my bin liner back and head off.

During the Elska Berlin shoot week, I considered going back, especially to try and shock my assistant Andriy, but there just was no time. And really, even though Berlin is famous for this level of filth, there is more to Berlin than nastiness. You don’t have to like fucking in public and pissing into mouth-toilets to feel you’ve had a proper Berlin experience. It’s like thinking that Bangkok is all ping pong popping shows and happy ending massages. Berlin is a great city with much more to offer than its notoriety. But it is there, and is worth seeing at least once.

See more of David and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (02) Berlin

Berlin is More Than Filth…with David P for Elska Magazine

I met David P for a shoot at his home near Warschauer Straße station. When I arrived it brought back memories of a weekend trip I took here a few years back. At the time I was living in Warsaw, and Berlin was a quick, cheap and easy train ride away.

Then I stayed at a gay hostel called Gay Hostel, out in Schöneberg. It was, by the way, directly opposite Eisenherz, a shop that now sells Elska. I remember going in there, having a good browse, and just loving the place. I had no idea that I’d end up making a mag that would be on their shelves one day.

BLOG_Elska02Berlin-22.jpg

Anyway, me and some of the other guests teamed up and decided to go for a drink. After some debating it was decided that we should go to lab.orartory, a place that was said to be very “only in Berlin”. While I knew that there would be some debauchery going on, I didn’t realise until I arrived that you were supposed to be naked. Yet the idea of propping up the bar with a beer wearing nothing but shoes was not scary to me but rather, well, interesting. I was up for the experience, and with my new international hostel posse, I felt in safe company.

Located at Berghain, a former power station turned mega club, outside of which we shot Luca R for Elska Issue (02) Berlin, The Lab is in the depths of the complex. On arrival you are given a black bin liner into which you put everything but your shoes. Then you hand the bag over to someone who writes a number on your chest that you’ll use to order drinks against and claim your clothes at the end of the night.

I started with a couple of drinks, staying in the bar area, but soon felt curious enough for a wander. I recall seeing an old bathtub in the middle of a dark room, inside of which was a naked man fiddling around with himself. Other areas were more typical darkrooms, but less dark and much bigger. I was only there to look, trust me, and there was a lot to see.

The biggest impression of the evening was left, however, by a trip to the loo. There was this wall of about six urinals, the sixth of which wasn’t made of porcelain but rather was a large, middle-aged man sat on the floor with his mouth wide open. I stopped for a moment and considered which urinal to use, but in the end I was far too British about it and just assumed that it would be impolite to piss on some dude without being directly asked to. By this point the evening couldn’t shock me any more, so it was time to get my bin liner back and head off.

During the Elska Berlin shoot week, I considered going back, especially to try and shock my assistant Andriy, but there just was no time. And really, even though Berlin is famous for this level of filth, there is more to Berlin than nastiness. You don’t have to like fucking in public and pissing into mouth-toilets to feel you’ve had a proper Berlin experience. It’s like thinking that Bangkok is all ping pong popping shows and happy ending massages. Berlin is a great city with much more to offer than its notoriety. But it is there, and is worth seeing at least once.

To see the real Elska, visit www.elskamagazine.com