Sugar, spice and all things nice, candyman Luis Venegas, is sweet like chocolate! The Creative Director, Editor and Publisher of Fanzine137, EY! Magateen and C★ndy has the fashion world at his fingertips.
There’s an old English proverb that states "the eyes are the window to the soul," but for Luis Venegas, it’s his hands. Reading from left to right, Luis’ hand tattoos read *hard work*. Reading from right to left: *work hard*. Although you might find Luis dressing up as Anna Wintour at parties, it’s his own one-man editorial empire that has made him one of the most influential figures in the fashion industry, and more importantly, it’s what brings all the boys, drags and queen bees to the yard. Wintour is an apt model: bold, eccentric, does things her own way and of course, knows magazines, as does Luis. But you don’t need to be a palm reader or hand specialist to figure that one out, just look at his trans-Iberian collection, which might be enough to land him a spot on US TV show Hoarders. Luis likes his magazines how most of us like our wine: fragrant and mature. All the same, his own output expresses a fascination with youth. With the release of issue 9 of EY!Magateen, we prise him from his 'wiesta' (working siesta) to talk balls, bears and Barbra Streisand.
What first sparked your interest in magazines?
I’ve always been in love with magazines. I remember visiting my grandmother in the eighties and spending hours at her home looking through all her cheap Spanish gossip magazines. When I grew up, I was fascinated by the images in Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair, especially because of the Annie Leibovitz covers, and the pictures inside Liz Tilberis’ Harper’s Bazaar, Anna Wintour’s Vogue and above all, the fabulous Vogue Italia - probably my favourite title in the 90s. I visited newsstands daily, looking for the new issues, and each new issue of Vogue Italia was an important event for me. It burned in my hands and I always dreamt of doing a publication that'd make people feel the same excitement. I still try it with every new issue I do.
What’s your favourite magazine?
The most special magazine in my collection is the famous Harper’s Bazaar from April 1965, with model Jean Shrimpton wearing a pink astronaut helmet and blinking her left eye… You have to hold it in your hands to realise how special it is, and how influential it became... It’s probably the finest fashion magazine ever done in my opinion.
The list of people who have contributed to your magazines is outstanding. Who would you most like to work with? Is it still Barbra Streisand?
Yes, of course, it’s always Barbra Streisand and will be until the day I make it happen!
When do you feel most inspired?
While working - that means always. I heard Tom Ford say in a documentary, “if I’m awake, I’m working.” I understand that feeling very well. That so-called 'inspiration' can come to me from the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times, for the most unexpected reasons.
"Each new issue of Vogue Italia was an important event for me. It burned in my hands and I always dreamt of doing a publication that'd make people feel the same excitement."
What were you like as a teen, was it anything similar to the boys in your magazines?
No, I wish! I’ve never had an amazing body like the EY! boys have! I’ve always been short and quite a nerd. I didn’t go out too much at night, I always preferred to watch movies, read comic books, magazines and books… But I’ve always had amazing friends, I never felt isolated, or teenage angst. I was just a regular, pretty, happy, nerdy, teenage guy.
From your experience, do you think most boys are similar?
Each person is a world, and where you grow up and live obviously affects your personality. But I think there are some coincidental characteristics that make youth, and specifically boy’s, pretty similar everywhere. The unique sense of freedom, the excitement for everything new, the joy of fun and friendship.
When does a boy becomes a man?
When a boy leaves his parents’ home and becomes financially independent. The same for a girl to become a woman.
When was your coming of age moment?
When I left my home in Barcelona and moved alone to Madrid to start working with my favourite fashion designer of all-time, the incredible Sybilla. It was in 1999, I was 20 years old.
What is it that fascinates you about youth?
It’s a unique moment in our lives. The things that impact us as teenagers stay with us forever - it builds our personality, our taste, our knowledge. Youth is an exciting time of many discoveries.
If you could stay one age forever, what age would it be?
My favourite age is right here right now. And, as the song says, “the best is yet to come!”
Do you think that gay tastes have changed, in regards to men?
I guess you’re talking about the recent gay men cliché: beard, moustaches and tattoos. It’s a trend, it’s okay, it’s one of the main masculine looks of our time. In the case of EY!, I prefer to show a certain ideal of aspirational, athletic, healthy and young beauty that developed in the Arts during the Ancient Age by the Greeks and Romans. It’s my choice to show that type.
What candy do you like the most?
Gummy bears and gummy jellies!
When was the last time you did drag?
It was during the C★NDY Halloween Drag Ball that we did with the MoMA PS1 in New York City. I didn’t wear any make-up, just a kind of Laura Ashley flower printed polyester dress. I wanted to make it a bit Saint Laurent grunge, but at the same time I thought it would be cool to have something that would remind people a bit of Norman Bates’ mother (Norman from Hitchcock's Psycho). It was Halloween, you know.
Who is your all time favourite gender bender?
It changes, I have different periods… Nowadays I’m in love, once again, with Divine.
If you took part in a drag ball, what house would you belong to?
The House Of Saint Laurent! Because of Octavia Saint Laurent… what a muse!
What do you think the future looks like?
I feel like most people, between 17 and 21 years old, are really focused on what happens in the virtual world. That bubble keeps growing and I am beginning to feel that it’ll explode soon. There’s too much information, too much self-exposure everywhere. Sooner or later young people will get tired of it. I kind of feel there’ll be a new generation of young people coming soon and wishing to escape from all that and their reaction will be to do things differently from what their older brothers and sisters are doing nowadays. I hope it’ll happen soon.
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