Elska Magazine, a publication dedicated to sharing the bodies and voices of gay communities around the world, has put the spotlight on São Paulo, Brazil for its latest book. Inside readers are invited to travel virtually to the city and get to know a cross section of local gay, bi, queer, and trans men through intimate photography and personal storytelling.
Shot last November-December just as Brazil was starting to re-open and usher in a post-COVID summer season, a city full of hope and pent-up queer energy was revealed. Many locals were keen to take part in the Elska project, to let the world discover what Brazil has to offer, and to declare that São Paulo is one of the gayest cities on Earth. Although a third wave was yet to hit Brazil and the world, the issue’s release comes now at a perfect time as much of the world is seeing brighter days.
“We’ve taken Elska to thirty-three cities around the world so far but nowhere did we have as much interest among local guys to take part as in São Paulo,” says Elska editor and chief photographer Liam Campbell. “People were just so easy-going and proud to share their stories and show their bodies in front of the camera. We chose to visit Brazil for its famed diversity, which we found in spades, but we didn’t expect the locals to be so proud of their diverse nation and welcoming community. It makes me proud just to have met them, and I look forward to returning to Brazil one day soon and finding more of what this amazing country offers.”
Elska São Paulo is divided into eleven chapters, each dedicated to a different local guy. These chapters include a selection of photographs by Liam Campbell, shot in a spirit of honesty and spontaneity. The men were photographed in their own homes and in their own neighbourhoods, dressed in whatever clothes they want or in nothing at all, revealing their personal style and what’s underneath. This issue is one of Elska’s most naked editions, and it’s definitely the sexiest yet, but not by intention, just because the guys the Elska team happened to meet in São Paulo were themselves so naturally sexy and free.
In addition to the photography, each chapter also contains a story. Each participant was invited to write about anything from their lives as long as it's something true, and these Paulistas shared a wide range of topics that invite you into their lives and into São Paulo life in general. Some of the story highlights here include Murillo J's description of a Paulista nightclub full of creativity and free-spiritedness, and how they tried to adapt it for the COVID era; Rodrigo K's ode to anime, especially its prevalent homoeroticism and how it helped inspire him to become who he is today; Bruno V's tale of his transition, including devastating setbacks post-surgery alongside a spirit of gratitude and much hope for the future; and Mike F's chronology on how he discovered and then pursued his dream to become a dancer.
Elska São Paulo is 212 pages and is available from a select group of shops around the world as well as for order online from the Elska website. Also available is a special companion zine called Elska Ekstra São Paulo, containing five more Brazilian guys and their stories for whom there weren’t enough pages for in the main mag, plus behind the scenes tales and bonus outtakes. Also inside is a special feature on how Elska got started following three photoshoots in Incheon, Korea. The list of stockists and details of the subscription service can also be found on the Elska website: www.elskamagazine.com.