As the naughty, rose-tinted publication returns after a decade-long hiatus, longtime fans and contributors discuss its lasting influence and how they feel now it’s back
The homosexual bible is back! When BUTT magazine announced its return after ten long years in late 2022, you could hear gay rejoice from miles around. This month, the publication’s comeback issue got its debut during Paris Fashion Week with a little help from Bottega Veneta. As the sole advertiser within the zine’s pages, the Italian brand threw a big green party, as Insta-gays threw ‘BUTTEGA VENETA’ captions around the platform.
The “delightfully direct and dirty” BUTT was originally founded in 2001 by friends Jop van Bennekom and Gert Jonkers in a tiny studio in Amsterdam. Their intention was to show a more authentic and less tan-and-shaved-everywhere image of homosexuality. The rose-tinted mag combined qualities of a literary title and a porn zine, and featured scruffy men in suggestive poses and various states of undress – as captured by artists like Wolfgang Tillmans and Ryan McGinley. Explicit questionnaires and short poems or prose often accompanied the editorials.
The idea was to reflect the IRL realities of its gay audience as much as possible, and publish content that would feel like meeting a great guy at a bar and having an intriguing conversation. Inspired by Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, the zine’s format of head-on Q&As often revealed blush-worthy anecdotes. In one interview, Craig Green described the tone of his pubic hair, while in another, Rick Owens talked about buying a buttplug with a real horse tail for a client.
Alongside the zine, van Bennekom and Jonkers launched BUTTHEADS, an online club that can only be described with justice as an older and more arty brother of Grindr. The chatroom-inspired platform acted as a network for fans of the magazine based all around the world who were searching for “buddies” – from one-night stands in the city they were visiting, to romantic partners for eternal love. The platform today resembles a relic of the times, inhibitions uninhibited without fear of violated cyber security and privacy. BUTTHEADS posted dick and butt pics on their profiles, and left horny comments under photos of others.
“In one BUTT interview, Craig Green described the tone of his pubic hair, while in another, Rick Owens talked about buying a buttplug with a real horse tail for a client”
The magazine’s latest issue has been created with the signature intention of “Providing an outspoken, sexy platform for a queer community in flux”, and encourages conversations around LGBTQIA+ intersectional solidarity and sexual freedom. Inside, BUTT 30 features a showcase of works by Black queer artist Clifford Prince King, as well as interviews with trans porn actor Billy Vega, queer sports and human rights collective HomoKomando’s founder Linus Lewandowski, and the mag’s first dyke, in-demand hairstylist Holli Smith.
To celebrate this big BUTT moment, we spoke to some of the zine’s diehard fans and contributors about the publication’s influence, their fave memories of the mag, and the brand new issue.
LOUIS PISANO – WRITER, BUTT FAN
“The first time I came across the magazine was through their anthology book Forever BUTT. I was at this boy’s house that I had been hooking up with, it was a Sunday morning after we had fucked, and I was looking at his bookshelf because I’m nosy like that, and saw this big-ass pink book, opened it and was like… ‘WOW!’ Then, this guy introduced me to the BUTT website which fully blew my mind. It was sort of like Facebook, but for naked queers.
The magazine was so kinky, I felt like a voyeur – I had never seen anything like it. I was quite conservative sexually then and this felt so fucking naughty. I felt like a whole new gay world was opened to me via BUTT, one a lot freer than the one I was currently in. It wasn’t afraid to be dirty. It wasn’t shiny and clean.
“I felt like a whole new gay world was opened to me via BUTT, one a lot freer than the one I was currently in. It wasn’t afraid to be dirty. It wasn’t shiny and clean” – Louis Pisano
I finally joined BUTTHEADS in 2016. I had been low-key lurking around on there and one day, I was like, ‘Fuck it!’ and uploaded my nudes. It felt very freeing and having guys from all over the world telling you you’re hot and that they want to photograph or paint you was fun. I remember one guy asking me if I could send him some pubic hair because he was making an artwork from men’s pubes.
I hope the new BUTT retains that independent spirit it always had but also brings it into the current day where internet culture is very different. I’m hoping for the same in-depth interviews that didn’t shy away from any topic and of course, I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more dicks.”
KUBA RYNIEWICZ – PHOTOGRAPHER, BUTT CONTRIBUTOR
“The first issue that stuck in my mind was the one with Julian Ganio on the cover, shot by Wolfgang Tillmans. I love these images! I didn’t know Julian at the time but I loved how honest and free and sexual these photos were. Also, I loved the readers’ letters section – the whole gay world united in the zine with pink pages.
BUTT helped me to come out actually. Not that particular issue with Julian (lol), but generally speaking, the language ot was communicating with the reader and also the visuals that were very often taken by artists I was inspired by. I also became a part of the BUTTHEADS club – I remember that I texted artist AA Bronson on there and next week, I was on a flight to Berlin to meet him.
I worked on three stories for the relaunch, each totally different and special in its own way. First was the shoot in Poland of Linus from HomoKomando. We met in Gdansk during Gay Pride last August and I photographed him the next day in the outdoor gym in the nearby town, Sopot. I guess this one was the most emotional for me because when I lived in Poland, there were no Prides, and the one in 2021 was my first one there. Polish Pride marches are on a different level compared to the Western countries – they are very political and people are strongly fighting for their rights. It was sad and amazing at the same time.
“BUTT helped me to come out actually, and I also became a part of the BUTTHEADS club – I remember that I texted artist AA Bronson on there and next week, I was on a flight to Berlin to meet him” – Kuba Ryniewicz
The second shoot was the closest to me. It was with Holli Smith, a super great dyke and hairstylist from New York. I know Holli well, and she and her partner Pony are the most wonderful people! We had lots of fun in their apartment in Paris during fashion week, and got a bit wildly honest and outside the lines for the photos… I will leave it here for now!
The third shoot was of the gay icon Sunil Gupta in his apartment in London. I remember seeing his work when I was a teen and dreaming of going to London and being gay. Sunil is one of the nicest gays I have met, we didn’t have a lot of time to take these photos, but we both have a special connection to India, so we had a good chat about that during the shoot.”
DINO BONAČIĆ – WRITER, BUTT FAN
“I never really experienced BUTT coming out in its own era. Nowhere really stocked it in Croatia (where I lived at the time), plus I was also closeted then I don’t think I’d even have had the balls to buy an explicitly gay magazine like that. However, I do remember seeing it during those early-ish days of social media by exploring the photography of Wolfgang Tillmans. I probably didn’t understand what was happening, but I did know it made me feel excited.
The first BUTT I remember owning was Issue 26 with the ‘happy gay family’ on the cover, which I stumbled upon in a second-hand shop. It was simple yet subversive – allowing me to enjoy it for what it was, but also the implicit meaning of a happy gay couple with kids.
One story I think about quite often is the interview with Daniel Pitout who today goes under the stage name of Orville Peck. Brontez Purnell’s story in issue 26 is also great as I feel it represents the writer’s raw essence, one I adore and still recognise in Purnell’s books today. Overall, I feel like BUTT‘s interviews – and more specifically Paul Flynn as an interviewer – were all really influential on my own idea of good journalism. Not to be lame, but I feel like I still try to emulate that style today – tongue-in-cheek and blunt yet uncomplicated in its presentation.
Sadly, I was never bold enough to sign up to be a member of BUTTHEADS while I was single, but I used to go on the forum and explore all the hot guys from around the world and their explicit imagery as my own form of Tumblr porn.”
WILLY NDATIRA – WRITER AND EDITOR, BUTT CONTRIBUTOR
“The 2001 issue with designer Bernhard Willhelm was the first time I came across BUTT: his underwear had a hole in them and he was holding an ironing board. I remember thinking it was so wrong and so good at the same time. I was working in Paris that summer and managed to get a copy. It wasn’t easy to get BUTT in Johannesburg where I studied and lived.
BUTT was great because it broke all the rules but was very well designed (Jop is amazing). It also felt relatable. It had gay, queer men outside mainstream culture. Guys that weren’t trying to fit a mould. Also, the guys didn’t look like Versace models or Bruce Weber’s all-American jocks. BUTT had all body types.
One of my favourite past articles was the story of the gay man who stopped washing because he had a fetish for squalor and strong smells. In the interview, he talks about his first memory of being aroused as a schoolboy – he got turned on by the sight and smell of a very attractive homeless man and that became his fetish. Jop told me he gagged when he went to photograph and interview him. The man hadn’t washed himself for years and his bedsheets were filthy.
“BUTT was great because it broke all the rules. It had gay, queer men outside mainstream culture. Guys that weren’t trying to fit a mould. Also, the guys didn’t look like Versace models or Bruce Weber’s all-American jocks. BUTT had all body types” – Willy Ndatira
BUTT 30 has no overarching theme, which is what makes it so great. It’s a mix of people of all ages, genders, and sexual kinks. People who have contributed greatly to the Black and POC queer scene and art. Gert and Jop said they like to think of BUTT as something made with and by contributors. A publication that is created in collaboration with the LGBTQIA+ community around the world.
For the relaunch, I profiled artist Clifford Prince King. Clifford’s work has a great sensibility and centres around queer POCs. The work is racial but not confrontational. Clifford’s gaze doesn’t fetishise, it humanises. With the rise of racism in mainstream gay culture, it’s a good thing. We had the best Zoom session (he’s based in Los Angeles) during which we talked about his life and his process. He is inspired by cinema and casts people from the LA scene or people he meets on Grindr. You can read about it in the issue!”
POL ANGLADA – ARTIST, BUTT FAN
“I remember being around 16 or 17 years old when I first found out about BUTT Magazine during a trip to Barcelona. The unapologetically gay diversity in characters and body types and the representation of the queer underground was something revolutionary for me. I think the first one I remember seeing was the issue with Julian Ganio on the cover. I was obsessed!
I loved its pink paper, easygoing interviews, and fanzine-like format. In the editorial context of the time, BUTT stood out for its representation of broad and free sexuality and non-normative body types sometimes only found in underground publications. Something that now is way more popular was once revolutionary among publications only showcasing stereotypes.
I’m so excited about the BUTT comeback and ready to be surprised! Gert and Jop know how to turn it upside down and still be intellectually relevant nowadays while maintaining BUTT’s carefree community feeling.”
“I still read BUTT‘s online archives now and then, and there’s always something fantastic you haven’t seen before in there – for example, I just stumbled upon a ‘sex review’ from 2009 with the title ‘HAIRY MAN IN GHOST COSTUME BECOMES CUMRAG’” – Zac Bayly
ZAC BAYLY – PHOTOGRAPHER, BUTT CONTRIBUTOR
“I’ve always loved BUTT‘s warmth, inclusiveness, and humour – I’m excited to keep seeing more of it! Gert and Jop have a gift for making magazines renowned for having the very best interviews, the very best art direction, and the very best contributors, but I think what’s really at the core of why their work is so special and why it connects with people so much is that they’re very much interested in real life – real humans, real bodies, real sex, and so on.
In past issues, I loved seeing all sorts of body types and people from really different walks of life, all treated equally, plus some of the funniest and most revealing interviews I’ve ever read. And of course the most outrageous headlines ever! I still read BUTT‘s online archives now and then, and there’s always something fantastic you haven’t seen before in there – for example, I just stumbled upon a ‘sex review’ from 2009 with the title ‘HAIRY MAN IN GHOST COSTUME BECOMES CUMRAG’. LOL.”
Head here for more info and to grab your own copy.