We’ve all got our favourite reads, but there’s a new publication on the scene. According to editor Amos Mac, Original Plumbing is like the trans love child of BUTT and Girls Like Us. A zine for trans-men and their admirers, Amos chatted to Same Same about how he got the whole thing off the ground.
Where did the idea for Original Plumbing come from?
The idea started out as a photo zine to showcase photographs I had taken of various trans guys. I wanted to create a place where I could publish intimate, sexy and even humorous photos of the trans guys in my community. And I wanted it to be in a space where I felt comfortable showing the spectrum of diversity that FTMs exist in. As people started to hear about the magazine and other guys started to pitch story ideas to me, Original Plumbing grew into more than just a photo magazine. The main thing behind Original Plumbing is visibility for trans men, giving us a space to be honest and show the diversity of an under represented demographic of people.
What kind of aesthetic are you going for?
Our first issue is a mix of color and black and white photo spreads, interviews, personal narratives, fiction and articles based around trans issues and interests.
What was the inspiration for Original Plumbing? And how is it different from what’s already out there?
Original Plumbing is the first magazine to concentrate fully on trans male sexuality and culture. It’s different from other publications because it’s the only magazine out there that you can pick up and know that every photo spread is of a trans guy, and every article or story is going to represent something that a FTM experienced, or expressed and wanted to share with the world.
As a huge magazine enthusiast since I was a kid, I have been inspired by a mixture of publications. From the likes of BUTT and Pinups magazine, to classic porn magazines from the 1960s and even glossy teen magazines from the 1990s.
So how is Original Plumbing produced?
Original Plumbing is produced out of my bedroom in San Francisco and various internet cafes around the city. I’m the editor in chief and I take all the photos and compile submissions, and Rocco is the assistant editor and the guy who does the ad sales and public relations stuff and bounces ideas off of me. We take submissions and love it when we get ideas pitched to us, especially from trans guys who live in places far from San Francisco, because it takes us out of the queer bubble we live in and gives us perspective on other guys’ lives. And really, that’s what Original Plumbing is all about – sharing and celebrating all the different contexts that trans guys experience and putting it out there, showing diversity and celebrating the fact that there isn’t just one way to be a trans man.
How have ad sales and budgets been? Any creative ways in which you’ve had to make some cash?
Just like the heavy response to the model calls and writing submissions, a wide-variety of businesses, from local bars to queer Canadian porn sites, to New York-based clothing lines, have been very receptive and purchased ads for issue one. To pay for the rest of the printing costs we had a benefit at The Stud, which is a gay bar here in San Francisco. Then in October, comedian Ian Harvie will be producing a benefit comedy show to raise funds for us as well.
It’s so exciting to know that even in an economy like this, people are still reaching out to help make community-based projects like Original Plumbing a reality.
What have you worked on before this?
I’m a photographer and a writer. Most recently I co-curated the Homo a Go Go art show (homoagogo.com), and in the past my photographs have been in a lot of group exhibits, mostly in NYC and San Francisco and this summer in Mondo-Homo, Atlanta.
Usually, my photos revolve around queer-centric portraits and themes and my own personal documentation of how I see the community. My most recent exhibition in San Francisco was The Popsicle Project, a collaborative photo project with Rhiannon Argo, where we took photos of 50 different queers (featuring some high profile homos such as author Michelle Tea, Brontez of the band Gravy Train and artist Cristy Road) sucking on popsicles in the sun.
I feel like here in Australia there is a lot of excitement about Original Plumbing in the community. How does that feel, that excitement from across the other side of the world?
I expected a positive response, but I had no idea how wide spread the interest would be and how hungry everyone seems to be for a magazine like this. It’s amazing and inspiring to get such feedback from around the globe and it fuels my creativity for future issues. As this is a magazine made by trans guys for trans guys, and their admirers, it’s in the our hands to create something remarkable that represents our experiences. It’s definitely time.
What are you doing for the launch?
We have a lot going on! Bi-coastal release parties in both NYC and in San Francisco – Sugarland in Brooklyn and Club Chaser in San Fran. Then a smaller release party at a local shop in San Francisco, The Seventh Heart, that will be selling the zine.