LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

Monday, August 15, 2011

“ALL BEAR”: Not Your Father’s Wank Mag! (But It Might Be Your Daddy's!...)



 “ALL BEAR”: Not Your Father’s Wank Mag!
(But It Might Be Your Daddy’s!…)
     In the world of “bear-otica”, the online magazine “ALL BEAR” has become a very popular new kid on the block. And that‘s a block with some very woofy neighbors! It makes you realize how much times have changed since a lot us were horny but closeted teens trying to maintain our dignity while buying a copy of “Playgirl” at the local 7-11 (or risk getting caught shoplifting…). As erotica moves away from paper to webzine format, “ALL BEAR” jumped right in. The PDF mag is available worldwide at the click of a mouse… and at $2.40 an issue, that’s a lot of “Grrr!“ for your money! “ALL BEAR” features photo spreads of a wide range of hot and hairy models-- all of them, if you’ll forgive a too-obvious pun, showing off their “bear assets“. You‘ll see everything from amateur Grade A beef to the men of “Bear Films”, one of the most popular Bear porn studios. What you WON’T find is a single twink in any of the 10 issues of “ALL BEAR”. With all the hirsute heat, you may have a hard (ahem…) time scrolling through each issue before your computer screen goes into hibearnation… plus, chances are you‘ll run out of paper towels along the way. The newest issue, Issue 10, features an extended pictorial of Bear couples. Issue 11, featuring an interview with and photo spread of “ginger bear” porn model Buck Ramsey, is due to be out on September 12th.  True, the average issue of “All-Bear” is jam packed with more testosterone than a rugby team drink-up at the local pub. There‘s also erotic fiction, adults-only artwork, and porn DVD reviews. But what makes “All Bear” more than just… shall we say, “masturbation material” is that the magazine has its paw firmly on the pulse of Bear culture. In addition to features and stories, “ALL BEAR” has interviews with and profiles of some of the most dynamic Bears and Bear-supporters on both sides of the Atlantic. Each ish features some nice eye candy with photos of woofy celebs (gay and straight) from the worlds of music, athletics, film/TV, and more. There are also some intimate interviews with the likes of DJ Tim McLoone, writers Paul Chandler and Tony Morgan; “Bear City” director Doug Langway and “Bear City” star/musician Blake Evan Sherman; adult film stars Boyd Summers, Joe X and Jim Grrowl; and Bear Title Holders JD Leggett (Mr. International Bear 2010) and Joe Mannetti (His Titles include Mr. International Daddy Bear 2009). Actor/model Mannetti, in fact, is also a columnist for the magazine. And, not to forget our Goldilockses, one Issue features an interview with singer/songwriter Jill Sobule (the voice behind 1995‘s “I Kissed a Girl” and 2010‘s “The Bear Song”).

The man behind “ALL BEAR” is 51-year old Brit Colin Gunn, who is Creator and Editor of the magazine. Colin, who lives in the town of Stroke-on-Tent… uh, I mean, Stoke-on-Tent (a city which Colin says is “full of Bears”), is happily partnered to Matt for four years. Colin and I spoke about his renegade magazine:
JR: Hello, Colin! Greetings from New York City! So, to start off, when did you first realize that you were, for lack of a more original name, a “Bear lover“? (Hmmm… actually, we should invent a new, exciting term for us guys who love our big and hairy brothers! Contest, anyone?)
CG: Well if I am to be honest, it was at an early age: around 13 or 14. It was at a seaside resort in the UK during one summer and I saw a big, built guy in his late 40’s-- very hairy, and wearing nothing but these light blue, towel-like material shorts. I could not take my eyes off him. And, the fact he was flying very loosely under those shorts helped! (Laughs) From then on I have always been attracted to big hairy guys.
JR: I know the feeling! So, how was the idea of “ALL BEAR” Magazine conceived?
CG: Believe it or not it, it was whilst reading a PDF “Doctor Who” fanzine. I thought to myself that I could do something like this and share a passion. That passion being, of course, BEARS!!!!!! In June 2009, I did a mock up for fun cover of an imaginary Bear magazine showing my partner Matt off in all his glory (that infamous cover appears in “The Best of ‘ALL BEAR‘ 2010“). From that cover, the idea for “ALL BEAR” was born. What followed then was months of research. Yep, research! (Laughs). I wanted “ALL BEAR” to be different from what had come before. I wanted it to appeal to everyone, and highlight that you don’t have to have a 6-pack to be in it. I wanted the everyday man to have his moment in the magazine through the “Featured Guy” pages. Their was only one stipulation and that was, and still is: if you are hairy and stocky/big build you are in. I also wanted to show off the talents of writers and Bear artists, and to freely promote them along with promoting Bear organizations, events, and websites as well. I was also aware of how difficult it is for our Middle Eastern Bear followers to be able to get a publication of this nature, so I wanted to be able to bring a mag that would be ‘safe’ (for want of a better term) for them to enjoy as well as everyone else. I then contacted a lot of my “pals” on various personal sites that I was a member of, asking what type of mag would best suit everyone, i.e. hard copy paper one, or digital one. Out of around 300 plus people I asked, 98% said digital. A vast proportion of them were Middle Eastern or “STR8” guys, many saying it is safer for them to have a PDF version as it was easier to hide away or destroy-- rather than a paper-based one. (Having such material in the Middle East is a criminal offence). Then came the idea of making it a not-for-profit venture. I wanted to share my passion for our Bear brethren, but also wanted the magazine to be easily accessible to everyone-- so I decided, like in the good old days of the fanzine, “ALL BEAR” would be non-profit making. I worked out the monthly hosting fee for the site, the cost of all the software and updates used for it, and came up with the very low price for it…a price that will never ever rise. A promise I intend to keep! One of my biggest bug bears is that people think I make money from this. We live in a far too-commercial world these days, and not many remember the good old days where people did something because they enjoyed doing it and wanted to share with others! In fact, I am very much out-of- pocket with “ALL BEAR“, but I carry on with it because I enjoy it. And if “ALL BEAR” ever starts turning a profit, then anything made after the cost of the magazine’s outlay would be donated to a charity. So a few months later, after being fairly happy with what I had found out, Issue One was released in February 2010. It was very trial and error, and to some extent a bit rushed, and bears very little resemblance to what “ALL BEAR” is today. You can see a clear evolution through the issues to what it is now!
JR: A while back, “ALL BEAR” was boasting a “new look”. How has the reaction been so far?
CG: I cannot believe the response I get from the new look. It has been very positive, and many people think the magazine looks like it’s a professional-looking magazine that you could buy in a store, put together by a team of like-minded individuals. When people find out that in fact it’s 99 percent “me” that puts it all together-- layout and design, editing, getting all the guys’ photos and articles, website design, upkeep of the website and the blog, Facebook, publicity… to name just a fraction of what I do, et cetera-- they don’t believe it! (Laughs) I spend around 40 to 60 hours a week on it at times.
I do sometimes miss the “old” look, but I do think that this new look has a more polished feel to it.
JR: I’ll make a safe bet that most of the guys who read “ALL BEAR” do so for the hot and hairy photos! I myself have a hard (ahem…) time getting past those layouts. Woof! But “ALL BEAR” also has an incredible variety of other great and intelligent stuff: interviews, fiction, artwork, news, and lots more. Do you ever want to just throw your hands in the air and scream, “Hey guys… there’s more to ‘ALL BEAR’ than just naked bears!“?
CG: My aim with “ALL BEAR” was always to make it more than just a “wank mag“. I wanted to strike a reasonable balance of eye candy and articles/stories/interviews, et cetera. I think now I have. Many comments I get are along the lines of “Great mag, about time we had something to read as well as being able to pull one off over – a true full package” (Laughs) My job is done! (Laughs) Predominantly “ALL BEAR” will always be about the pictures; after all, we ALL like to look at pics of hot looking guys… but that does not mean that we cannot have text-based items in as well. Their are some incredibly talented writers out there who I have had the good fortune to feature, like Sean Cockwell and BearquestMN to name just two. And I hope more come on board as well.
JR: While on the subject of “cumming” (ahem), where do you get the models who are in the exclusive “ALL BEAR” photo shoots? Do a lot of guys send in their pictures? That must be hot!
CG: Well as I have said before, I wanted the everyday man to have his spot in the limelight, so to speak. So ALL the guys that have been featured are all from personal sites, like Bearwww.com, Facebook etc. They cannot believe it when I ask them. They think its a wind up (Laughs), and many doubt that they should even be considered to take part in a magazine because they don’t have a six pack or muscled arms!!! One guy I featured actually cried as he could not believe I thought him worthy enough (his words) to even be considered. It helped his confidence no end being featured, and he gets quite a few e-mails from guys after being seen in the magazine.  I do think that some of the other magazines out there have forgotten what a Bear is, and its this stigma that makes people think they have no chance of being in a magazine. I wanted to break that mould. It’s all in the title, really: “ALL BEAR“-- chubby, young, old, middle aged, muscled, et cetera… it’s “ALL BEAR”! Another thing I thought of would be get the Featured Guys to send their own pics in. This in itself opens up “ALL BEAR” to be a true international affair, as it meant no matter what country you live in, you can be in the magazine. But something I felt was important was: if people sent their pics in, as opposed to us doing photo shoots, that meant that the individual to be featured would have TOTAL control over what was going to be shown in the magazine. For instance, I ask for around 10 to 14 pictures to be sent in to work from. If I use only 8 of the pics, then the person who sent the set in is OK with what I show, as they sent them in. However, if we went out and took a load of pictures and I choose one that I think may be good, but after it has been in the magazine the individual turns around and says “I wished you had not used that one of me.”, then I felt things could get messy. By sending them in, the individual has said “I don’t mind what you use of these, as I have OK’d them.” It saves a lot of time and hassle and also gives some control of the magazine content over to the individuals that appear.
JR: Gotcha! Now, “ALL BEAR” sometimes uses pictures of hot guys from the so-called “public domain”. Has anyone ever objected to their picture unwillingly showing up in the magazine?
CG: I spend a lot of time considering what goes in the “Internet Zone“. It is one of the most popular sections of the magazine. Again it’s our Middle Eastern friends who appreciate this section more then anything, as it collects together some of the better pics on the net so they don’t have to spend the time looking through the internet. In fact, I also get lots of emails from ‘STR8’ guys saying thank you for this section. The aim of that section, for me, is: If a picture appears in that section then it means, “Hello, what a hot looking guy!” And it is meant to solely honour the individual. I did get an e-mail once that had the subject heading “I wished you had said you were going to use a picture of me!!!” Before I read the actual message itself, i thought, “Oh shit!” But the message then went on to say if I had told him, he would have sent loads more pictures in. In fact, he did and has been a Featured Guy since. Another thing I do with every picture is try to find out if any copyright goes with the picture. If their is a copyright notice on the picture, I stay well clear from it. Anyone wishing to protect their work must ALWAYS put a copyright notice on there image. If no notice is on it, I then run every picture through Photoshop which tells you if any copyright has been tagged within the picture itself but cannot be seen. I have to confess, I do not like this form of stealth copyrighting. It stinks of trying to entrap someone. If you took the image and you think its good enough to show on the internet-- after all, it got out there some way-- then put a clear copyright notice on it. If a picture is of a fairly well-known guy on the internet, then I contact them to ask if its OK to put that particular picture of them in the section. If anyone does ever object, all I can do is assure them that it is there because of how hot as a picture and a guy I thought he was… and I only wanted to honour the individual. And then, of course, to try and get him to be a Featured Guy (Laughs). But I always stress to these guys we are NON-PROFIT making.






JR: “ALL BEAR” is different from a lot of erotic magazines of the past because it’s only available in on-line or PDF form. Do you think people miss the “old school” feeling of actually holding a printed magazine in their hands?
CG: I would love “ALL BEAR” to have a paper incarnation. But it’s down to finances. Plus, I think it would lose what was the original intent of the project in making it accessible to everyone, worldwide.  I did start on doing an A5 36-page version on paper called “ALL BEAR Digest“, which would have been a collection of some of the best of the main magazine with one or two exclusives for the digest version. Because of content, it would have to be made and produced in-house; so again, it was finances that held it back. Plus, it would have had to cost a lot more for this than the main PDF version. So, I took that into consideration as well, and felt that it would make it too commercial and would not go with the message of what “ALL BEAR” was all about. That is not to say in the future, I would not reconsider it. But everyone seems to like the digital version more, because of its look and accessibility.
JR: Well, I for one am enjoying it… and I don’t have to worry about getting the pages sticking together (Laughs)! Now, do you have a model who was particularly popular with the readers?
CG: Oh God, their have been plenty. But one in particular did seem to wake everyone up (Laughs). As soon as I released the cover to issue 9, featuring JJ Begley on Facebook, and on the “ALL BEAR” website and blog, I was plagued with emails requesting that I release the issue early. And that is no exaggeration. That cover is rather good, after all. And of course there is Buck Ramsey (Issue 11) as well who has indeed been getting the same response… and we have a returning Feature Guy coming up in Issue 12 that really got everyone’s pulse racing… and that was Brutus, who shares more hot pics with us and is also featured on that issue’s cover. I like to tempt the readers in with those covers! (Laughs)
JR: It works! As Editor, you have the job of looking at dozens of photos of hot, hairy men. It’s a hard job (ahem…), but somebody’s gotta do it! But what do YOU personally find most sexy in a guy?
CG: Yes, it can get to be a bit of a chore at times. NOT! (Laughs) But that question is an easy one to answer: killer smile, fun personality, shaved/short head hair, hairy and stocky to big build. Gets me every time. Think Bob Hoskins in the “Long Good Friday“ or “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and you won’t go far wrong!
JR: Who would be your ideal celebrity or well-known personality to appear “au naturel” in “ALL BEAR”?
CG: Oh my God, what a tough question. Where to start? Bob Hoskins, James Gandolfini, Steven Spiers, Patrick Cox, Michael Chiklis, Kevin James, Nick Frost, Mark Addy… and that is just off the top of my head!
JR: (Laughs) Imagine having them all at the same photoshoot! You better have a really great caterer! (Laughs) Now, what exciting things do you have in store for us for the next few issues of “ALL BEAR”?
CG: Well as I type this I am thinking and planning out the next eight issues of “ALL BEAR“. I do not want to give to much away but their are some really hot guys coming up in the Featured Guys section. Subscribers will be getting a little “Thank you!“ in December in the form of a free 36-page (minimum) special Christmas Edition of “ALL BEAR“… and the cover for this is another fantastic picture of Jesse. This will ONLY be available to subscribers of the current run of issues (10-12). I am toying with the idea of dong a special Collected Edition of all the fiction that has appeared in the magazine… but not sure about it yet. But it is something I would love to do. So, I will be approaching all the writers soon with that idea. There are some great interviews lined up with Bear celebrities, and I am hoping to be doing something special for the guys over on “Bear City 2“. I am also thinking of Collecting “ALL BEAR”’s back catalogue to date on a CD-ROM, which will be in a jewel case with front and back cover, along with disc label. This will then mean something physical for our readers to have. If this idea took off, then I would think doing that for each issue. And of course, I am always on the look out for more guys to feature; and for anyone who wants to contribute a story or article, they are always welcome. Contributions secures “ALL BEAR”’s future. As a final word, I would just like to thank everyone who supports “ALL BEAR“, either through buying it or through contributing to it. “ALL BEAR” is done for all you guys out there, and I hope you will enjoy it for a long time to come!
JR: Well, I’m enjoying it, that’s for sure! Thanks for speaking with me, Colin!
     Pictures, stories, features, erotica, dirty cartoons, interviews… The only thing missing is a “scratch and sniff” feature! Colin, are you listening? Visit http://www.all-bear.co.uk/ for more!

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