In the beginning, before Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman, there was BUTT magazine. The brainchild of Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom, whose aforementioned titles are among the world’s most admired printed publications, BUTT was a lo-fi phenomenon. It described itself in a now famous tagline as an “INTERNATIONAL FAGGOT MAGAZINE FOR INTERESTING HOMOSEXUALS AND THE MEN WHO LOVE THEM.” For writer Paul Flynn, it was a magazine about “gay sex, art and fashion you believe in.”
Paul has written one of two introductory essays for FOREVER BUTT, a rugged new tome from Taschen which celebrates some of the best content from BUTT since its launch in 2001 (it follows a 2006 book which showcased the best of the mag’s first five years). It includes an incredible array of subjects and contributors, from Gore Vidal and Perez Hilton to John Waters and Marc Jacob via performers like Jonny Woo and porn stars like Greek Pete.
Wolfgang Tillmans, the photographer, longtime BUTT collaborator and author of the other introductory essay, gives us an interesting insight into how Gert and Jop chose who would appear in the magazine. “Showing just ‘some guy BUTT likes’ has never been reason enough to feature somebody in the magazine. BUTT always has ambitions way beyond that. Its makers have always wanted to hear from the widest variety of guys…I can imagine Jop and Gert, hard at work, trying to find the right mix of people for each issue. The obscurity of some of their subjects, and the high celebrity of others, sometimes meant months trying to convince so-and-so to grace BUTT’s pink pages.”
This eclecticism was always a key part of BUTT’s appeal, Wolfgang goes on. “If BUTT has ever been a ‘fanzine’ in any sense at all, it’s because it appeals to magazine lovers. But unlike the traditional single-focus ‘fanzine,’ BUTT displays a curious eagerness to accommodate normally conflicting entities. How else could an interview with a hobo from Amsterdam who hasn’t washed in decades and hasn’t changed the bed sheets in 11 years be featured in a magazine with a Dior ad on its back cover?”
And Paul Flynn pays an articulate tribute to the scale of its founders achievement. "The magazine is a flytrap for a particular sensibility that Gert and Jop presided over,” he writes. “They’re two tall Dutch men with good eyes and ears. Sex, taste and emotion are the perennial enablers when you’re building communities. If they won’t say it themselves, I’ll do it for them. Gert and Jop built one.”
Printed (of course) on pink stock, the book is a tremendous celebration of all that BUTT stands for. Across the interviews, the photographs, and the drawings it’s a dirty, funny, illuminating, and at times gleefully near-libellous tribute to a magazine that for many still continues to define Gert and Jop, whatever successes they’ve had and will go onto have. My impression is that would be absolutely fine by them.
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