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Remembering last year’s shoot with Austin W, who became the cover boy of our Elska Taipei edition. Seen here with our Taipei assistant Roman Tanitchev, evening out his backpack straps, ‘cos you know he’s meticulous like that.

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OMG Look at this Boy… with Temelalj C

I feel like such a dick saying this, because I hate to sound shallow, but Temelalj C didn’t look at all like his picture when we met in person. In Taipei, Roman Tanitchev was our Elska assistant, and Temelalj was someone he found. Roman only ever showed me one pic of him, and well, I wasn’t titilated by it… But you know, everyone’s welcome in Elska whether I personally fancy them or not – each to their own, right?

But OMG look at this boy! This was the first pic I took of him, fixing his hair as we got ready to start the shoot. Gorgeous, right? 

See more of Temelalj C and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (05) Taipei

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(Rethinking My Motivation… with Lucas M by Jean-Baptiste Huong)

The story that Jean-Baptiste Huong wrote to accompany his Lucas M series in the Elska Taipei issue really got me thinking. In it he discusses how he’s able to get the attention of men who he perceives to be vastly more attractive than him though the process of photographing them. It is actually a motivation for photographing them at all. It made me wonder if this ability to be up close with beautiful men is a motivation for me too.

My natural, instinctual response is that this is not my motivation. Certainly there is no sexual attraction going on when I shoot my boys, no matter how hot or how naked they are. But then perhaps that’s more because I’m too busy concentrating on the camera to give sex any thought. 

I do recall one time scrawling a text onto a model’s naked body using lipstick. He was ten years younger than me and had abs better than Jesus on the cross. There’s no way I he’d have let me put my hands on his naked body for any other reason.

And then what happened? When it came time to wash the lipstick off, I went into the shower with him to help him scrub it all off. Even then I didn’t get a boner, and it’s not that I have issues with impotency. Not yet anyway!

So I don’t know, I stand by my response. What I would say is that I love beauty and that I love to capture and reproduce it. Maybe photography is my way of being close to beauty, but it’s not some sneaky way of perving up to fit lads. Then again, perhaps I’ve misunderstood J-P Huong’s text. He’s also in it for the beauty, and is just a little bit of a pervert!

See more of Lucas M and read the story in Elska Magazine issue (05) Taipei

See more work by Jean-Baptiste Huong: http://jeanbaptistehuong.com/

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(Picked Second-to-Last for the Team… with Rhenz T from Taipei)

One of the things I didn’t like about growing up in Chicago was the cultural obsession with sports. Even when I moved to London as a teenager and saw the football culture, it was somehow different. It was possible to be a worthwhile human being and not be into sports, but not in Chicago. It was part of why I felt so out of place there.

I was terrible at sports in school, and though not picked last, I was always picked second-to-last for the team. It’s not because I had any talent, but because my somewhat bigger size made me seem like good goalkeeper material for hockey or soccer. Sometimes at the start of the school year, I’d even be one of the first picked for American football ‘cos I looked like I could withstand a tackle, but the problem was that no one would even try to tackle me since I could never catch the ball. 

There was a time when I was quite into sports, into baseball specifically. I used to watch the Cubs play with my grandfather whenever a match was on. I also used to dream about being a professional baseball player (I wanted to be third baseman). But then, sometime around the age of nine when they first let us play baseball in PE at school, I saw that I was rubbish. The coach would tell me just to concentrate, but I couldn’t with the other kids shouting at me about bringing the rest of the team down. 

Some even said that if I was just a bit more confident that I could do it. That’s what Rhenz T said about his basketball days. Maybe he’s right, but I could never overcome the stress barrier in school. A few years ago, however, I did join the Warsaw Gay Badminton Club. I was pretty bad, but I was better than I expected. And I actually enjoyed it. But these guys weren’t shouting at me, telling me how much I sucked. So maybe that was what made the difference.

See more of Rhenz T and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (05) Taipei

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(The Power of a Smile… with Joe F from Taipei)

I fell in love with Joe F almost instantly after we met. He didn’t really speak English at all, so there was little conversation, but he said a lot with his smile. And this guy almost never stopped smiling. 

I met Joe F along with Jo’i D in Tamsui. Roman, my assistant for the Taipei project, found Jo’i and then Jo’i suggested his friend Joe to join as well. The more the merrier. At first the plan was to shoot Joe nude at home, but he couldn’t use his place to shoot and I didn’t want another hotel room shoot. So, although I’d have liked to shoot him naked, we opted instead for an outdoor shoot. Plus, although I love nudes, I already had five nude shoots in the Taipei collection and don’t want too many. I didn’t want to turn the Taipei issue into another Berlin issue!

Anyway, we were happily taking photos around Tamsui and then just as we walked past a quietish alleyway, Joe stopped to whisper something to Jo’i, who then translated to me that Joe wanted to go into that alley for a few stripped down pics. You can see the whimsy on his face, which I snapped just when a group of four old ladies happened to walk by and spot Joe with his trousers down. 

​Although I couldn’t chat to Joe, I still felt connected and like a friend. Everytime I looked at him he would smile back, and it melted my heart, making me feel safe and encouraging a serious bastard like me to smile too. A smile is a powerful, wonderful thing, and I think Joe may be the smiliest boy in Taiwan.

See more of Joe F and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (05) Taipei

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(Breaking Boundaries… with Gemi Sakinu Z from Taipei)

Without going into details and thus making matters worse, I heard from Gemi about some troubles online. He was getting very personal and creepy messages from a stranger who found him online. It can be so unsettling, even a little scary, and the same has been happening to me since I started Elska.​ I guess some people don’t realise that I’m just a guy. Every two months I go to some city, meet some boys and take their pics. Then I process them and paste them onto a PDF that I send to a printer. It’s not like I’m the editor of “Vogue” or something, but I’ve started to attract some weird people.

A few months ago a guy followed me on Twitter and messaged me that he’d like to meet up. I declined because he was a stranger. Now and again he’d message me to try to convince me, one time even sending me a list of other people he met on Twitter and encouraging me to contact them as references. I almost softened but finally gave a definitive “no, never" and he then reacted by launching a tirade asking his friends to block Elska Magazine on Twitter. 

Then last week I got a message on Facebook, also from someone I’d never met, saying "I want what you have… you are rich and successful.” I responded with an “lol and explained like I did above that I’m just a regular guy.”  He repeated it again and again until I said finally “what do you want me to say?”

His next response was “I want you to suck my fat cock.” Bizarre.

Then most recently there was a guy who’d seen me handing out Elska flyers in a bar and then messaged me on Grindr to tell me how ugly I was and how astonished he was that these hot guys would let someone like me photograph them. Why did he feel the need to tell me this?  

It’s times like these that I want to crawl underground, but I’m not going to stop doing what I’m doing. I’m just going to have to find a way to grow a thicker skin. Or just learn to accept that the world is full of nutters and just to pay no mind.

See more of Gemi Sakinu Z and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (05) Taipei

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(Tall Guys – a first date story… with Adrien M by Paul Sixta)

Picture it, Sicily, 1928… wait, that’s not it. It was Chicago, I was 17, and I’d been chatting online to an older guy (he was 21). These were the days when the internet was slow so there was no expansive social media profile to look at let alone an exchange of pics or video chat. Our choice to meet was based only on a personality connection – the physical side was a total risk.

We met at a coffee place in the Wicker Park neighbourhood. Whatever we had in common that brought us together evaporated instantly when I saw him – he was a giraffe to my badger, a towering 6’4 (193cm) to my 5’7 (170cm). It reminded me of my first time in Rotterdam (where this pic was of Adrien M was shot) – I felt like a mouse about to get stomped on (sorry for all the animal imagery).

He was also lankily lean with crystal blue eyes and a close cropped head of light blond hair. He looked sort of like a Marine, but one who’d not yet seen war.  I felt just so small and I was  intimidated into near silence. Thus the date was awkward, but somehow he called and asked me out again.

Our second date was planned for a late Friday night, and since it would have been too late for me to get home by train afterwards, he’d arranged for his college dorm-mate to move out for the night so I could have his bed. Only the second date and I’d be sharing a bedroom? Date One couldn’t have been so bad after all.

Anyway, Date Two started in disaster. He took me to a cinema night that served alcohol. I think it was called “Brew & View” and I remember it was on Sheffield Avenue. But since I was 17 and didn’t have a fake ID, I couldn’t get in, regardless of whether I’d be having beer or Pepsi. So instead we walked down to Ann Sather and had a long breakfast at night. Conversation was a bit easier, but I was still intimidated and also embarrassed that my age ruined our plans. I thought he’d leave me there to find my way home alone, but we went back to his dorm.

I took the bunk on top and he had his usual bunk below. The lights went out and we went to sleep. Or rather I couldn’t sleep, wondering if maybe I should climb down and crawl into bed with him. Perhaps it was a bit of bravery or just the realisation that I’d never get to sleep unless I tried… so I did climb down. As quietly and surreptitiously as possible, I lifted the sheets and spooned up to him. He was awake. We kissed. We got down to it, and even with the vast difference in height, 69 worked surprisingly well. After we came, I laid with him for a while, and when he fell asleep, I went back to the top bunk. And I slept really well.

See more of Adrien M and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (05) Taipei

And see more from Paul Sixta here: http://www.paulsixta.com/