See the great thing about California in 7 ‘Crotch’ pictures

The special California edition of Crotch has Sam Smith to thank for its existence.

Frank Strachan, the magazine’s editor in chief, is a London-based stylist and creative director who was touring with the “Unholy” singer through the West Coast last year when inspiration struck. (Others among Strachan’s creative collaborators include Kylie Minogue and the Pet Shop Boys.)

Ramon Christian

While on tour, Strachan contacted the photographer and Crotch collaborator Ramon Christian, arranging for him to follow Smith’s bus from San Francisco to Los Angeles — with stops in Big Bear and San Diego — and take pictures of beautiful men along the way. It was a homecoming in a sense. Crotch, which published 10 issues before this special, had been born in L.A. several years ago as a men’s underwear and swimwear magazine celebrating sexual liberation. California is in its DNA.

Ramon Christian

“I wanted to create something honest and unapologetically sexy — where the model is in control and gets to show their best sexual self,” Strachan shares of Crotch’s raison d’être. “I’m not hugely interested in male models; I prefer the aesthetic of real guys.”

“I’ve always had something of an underwear and swimwear fetish, and I love beautiful photography,” he adds. “We see horny images whenever we want online, but in print, it’s slower, calmer; the quality of viewing the printed image is a unique experience. It looks stunning on your coffee table.”

Ramon Christian

This new edition of Crotch is a celebration of the Golden State as much as it is the male form.

“I wanted it to be a mix of Californian landscapes and also the midcentury homes of some of the models to really capture what it’s like to live in California,” says Christian, a British-born photographer who now resides in New York and L.A. “It really is a special place. There is nowhere else like it.”

Ramon Christian

“I’ve always had a love for San Francisco, like so many, I imagine, from reading Tales of the City, and got to have a great night out there this time,” says Strachan, who also sees natural beauty as a key part of the state’s appeal. “For me, it’s the beach and the climate. California has a lot more than that, but I grew up in Blackpool, a seaside town [in England], which is a hard place to beat, but California has the sunshine.”

Ramon Christian

To illustrate the power of this print photography to capture Cali’s queer soul, Strachan points to the back cover image of models Chris Damned and Andrew Forrest “running into the Malibu surf naked, which just makes me want to throw down my phone and do just that. And then there’s Enrique Agudo at In-N-Out Burger; I defy you to show me a better-worn jockstrap.”

Ramon Christian

“Shooting Chris and Andrew in Malibu was so fun, those guys are amazing,” Christian adds. “They understood what I was trying to capture and then went for it, 100 percent. I’ve always loved Malibu since living in L.A. I find it so peaceful and magical. So it was important for me to do something there.”

This story is part of the Out March/April issue, which hits newsstands on April 2. Support queer media and subscribe — or download the issue through Apple News, Zinio, Nook, or PressReader starting March 18.

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