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go crazy, crazy, crazy for pornographic zayn malik fanzine, solo

We talk to the editor of Solo about fan fiction, fantasy, and dismantling the teenage dream.

by Billie Brand
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24 August 2015, 8:35am

When the news broke earlier this year that Zayn Malik had left the world's biggest boyband, you could hear Directioner hearts breaking and Directioner tears falling in unison around the world. But don't fret! The Louis Vuitton-clad naughty boy is heading in the right direction of single glory. Welcome to the candy-coloured wonderland of Solo, a pornographic, post-One Direction Zayn Malik fanzine that your wildest teenage dreams are made of. It's a little slice of fandom heaven, featuring the heartthrob bent over backwards with jockstraps, sex toys and more. We share secrets with the brains behind the beauty of Solo, Zain Curtis to discuss pop stars, pubescence and scenes of a sexual nature.

Can you tell us about Solo?
It's a celebration of Zayn becoming a solo artist. I've wanted to create something like this for a while. I didn't know how to properly execute it until I saw that he was signed to a new label and actually was going to put out a record. I wanted to do something fun and sexy with him, so being drawn in various 'solo' masturbation scenes seemed to piece it together for me. It parodies the shedding of the 'cookie cutter' image that every pop star eventually runs away from. It's exploring the sexuality of someone who maybe had to repress it, while at the same time, it was being sold as a product to audiences.

Who's the Solo reader?
It's a mix, the diehard One Direction fans that are now grown up, and queer Tumblr boys that always fantasised about something like this.

What inspired the pastel-hued, pornographic aesthetic?
I feel like art that is categorised as pornography can still be harsh. I actually identify as asexual and it's my first time working with and releasing x-rated content so maybe it's a way for me to feel more comfortable with making it. I guess it can feel a little more playful and not taken so seriously.

Why did you decide to combine fandom with fantasy?
I don't believe any fan base stops at only what they see. Every devoted fan thinks what could happen one day and so on. There's so much creativity in fandoms - tons of fan fiction on forums of ongoing stories about celebrities they might not meet but have a deep connection with. It can be therapeutic and comforting really. I might not be doing anything that different with this project, but just isolating what people are already doing with those stories and presenting it in a different way.

You're also the founder of Teen Witch, a magazine that "puts BOP and J-17 through a kaleidoscope, aiming to honour and give praise to the gay and trans youth underground scene." What is it about dismantling the teenage dream that appeals to you?
I think it goes along with people believing what an idol actually is. They're built up into what the audience want, which is this perfect person, music or art, then realising that that person isn't like any of that. There are a lot of facades in pop music that can be very damaging on both ends. It was an effort in getting teens to see that they can look up to peers like them that are doing cool things, making pop music and art that is easily attainable. I wanted it to serve as a guide to the more underground things going on mostly on the internet. Events and styles can happen so quickly on the web, it was nice to have a way of documenting a moment in time.

It's clear the bubblegum-pop style of teen magazines is a big influence on your work. What is it about that coming-of-age period that you find so inspiring?
I think it's a time where you grow the most. Other than physically, you are put into so many new situations and really gather most of the knowledge you use for the rest of your life, which is crazy because it's the most influential and reckless you will be. It's just a really strange and vulnerable time which is perfect to pull from. There's a lot of power there.

What were you like as a teenager?
I was really into pop punk music, my hair was always dyed colours and I went to the mall a lot. I would stay up all night watching music videos on MTV, talking about them on the phone with my friend until we had to go to school in the morning. I was from a small town so the only thing to do other than that was walk around Wal-Mart. My friends and I would play pranks on each other relentlessly and always got in trouble. We all worked at the same movie theatre that I was fired from three different times.

If we were to rewind time and peek inside your teenage bedroom, what posters would we find on your wall?
Oh God, I had lyrics of Good Charlotte and AFI written in black sharpie all over my walls and ceiling. There was a huge Karen O poster that I drew myself and a lot of My Chemical Romance concert ticket stubs taped everywhere. There was no space left unfilled.

Who would be in your dream boy band?
I don't know, it would have to be super authentic feeling and not like cheesy matching outfits. Maybe I would set it up like S Club 7 or when Diddy did that Making the Band show. I would love to see Jaden and Willow Smith in a band together. Conor Maynard and Zendaya could be cute with them. Maybe Kylie Jenner after I see what her music will sound like.

Who's the hottest pop star on the planet?
Well, it has to be Zayn.

Solo is out 9th September, you can pre-order it here.

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Text Billie Brand