10 years of C☆NDY
Luis Venegas discusses 10 years and 12 issues of ‘C☆NDY’: a celebration of the “transversal world” that’s taken in everything from Nan Goldin’s photography to a cover imagining the first transgender president.
Creative director, editor and publisher Luis Venegas should really receive an honour for his services to print magazines. In the past decade, the one-man publishing powerhouse has created not one but five independent titles that traverse the worlds of fashion, art, photography, sex, gender and dogs cleverly and uniquely. As Tim Blanks once said, “The world of print is a better place for the presence of Luis”.
While every magazine that he makes -- Fanzine137, The Printed Dog, Ey! Boy Collection, Ey! Magateen -- has a unique perspective and unrivalled roster of collaborators, the jewel in the crown of his publishing empire is undoubtedly C☆NDY. A fashion magazine that celebrates the “Transversal universe” -- it takes in the work, stories and imaginations of the most incendiary trans and queer creators, shot by many of the best photographers in the world. It’s a visually rich, often subversive take on the classic formula of a fashion magazine, always imbued with a knowing look and glint in its eye.
What can we expect from C☆NDY 12?
Believe me, I think this is the best C☆NDY I’ve ever done, and I’m not just saying this because it has just come out and want to promote it! There’s so many people in it that I wanted to feature. Fran Lebowitz, the actresses of Pose, Aquaria, the legendary Joey Gabriel. Then there’s Tilda Swinton (again!), Amanda Lepore's unseen polaroids, Arca, actress Jamie Clayton, Candy Darling mythical images by Avedon.
What's changed in the last 10 years, and how does this issue vary from the first ever one?
While creating this 10th anniversary issue of C☆NDY, some friends asked me: "What are you going to do to celebrate its anniversary?" And my answer: "The same as usual". This magazine remains firm in its commitment to the celebration of the transversal world, trying to surprise, amuse, entertain, inform and inspire its readers. C☆NDY never changes but is in a process of constant transformation. What has fortunately change is the context… to mention a significant example, a few months after C☆NDY’s first issue was launched, Givenchy had the model Lea T star in its campaign. There was so much publicity because she’s a trans woman. Nowadays trans models are leading fashion shows and the greatest campaigns in the world and that’s barely news. Obviously there’s still so much to do in order to accomplish total equality, but things like that make me feel like we as a society are progressing in the right direction.
What did you set out to do when starting C☆NDY?
The first issue was published in 2009, a time when starting a publication like this seemed like an unrealistic editorial project. Although I already had experience by then as an independent publisher with Fanzine137 and EY! Magateen, I still had not carried out the idea that excited me the most at that time: creating a style and fashion magazine. The main obstacle was the creative block that I had somehow imposed myself unconsciously: with so many fashion magazines out there, why create another one? Whenever beginning an editorial project I try not to make it similar to anything that already exists. One day -- who knows how? -- the idea came to me: there was no publication in the entire world that celebrated the present and past style, fabulousness and creativity of what I decided to call the "transversal” world, something I was always fascinated by.
What's it like putting together an issue? Complete chaos or organised and efficient?
It’s always an exciting mix of both. The contributors of each new issue are usually very strong personalities who work on many different things. I manage everything: I deal with the artists, the stars who are going to be featured and their agents, the stylists -- occasionally the brands who lend the clothes for the shoots -- the advertisers, the printers, the estimates, the deadlines, the distribution, promotion, the stores… everything! At the same time I depend on all the people working on all those things, nothing is completely under my control, quite the opposite. So I guess you could call all that mix a very beautiful chaos. I’m lucky to have Sergio Ibañez and his graphic design studio Setanta in Barcelona help me organise everything on the final pages.
What have you learnt over the last decade?
The list would be too long, honestly… I admit that "I took the plunge" with a certain innocence, and without a complete knowledge of what I was getting into, but I was also without fear. I ventured into the creation of C☆NDY because of my admiration for the transversal world and my curiosity to explore and learn more.
Is there a story or issue that you have a particular fondness for?
How difficult to choose! Dressing up as Anna Wintour for the second issue shot by Brett Loyd, imagining the first black transgender woman president of the US for the cover of the fifth issue starring Connie Fleming and shot by Danielle Levitt, Lady Gaga naked by Steven Klein, the fold out cover with the greatest transgender role model women of our time by Mariano Vivanco, having Hari Nef as guest editor, having Nan Goldin and Inez & Vinoodh shooting long portfolios, Stonewall veteran Agosto Machado shot by Ryan McGinley… Honestly, every single story published during the last 10 years is equally meaningful and important for me.
Why is print still so important?
Well, I’m very conscious you’re asking me this from a digital platform, but I really think print is relevant because it is something you can touch, hold, smell… so it’s somehow more “real”. There’s so much more effort and thought about what goes on a printed page, rather than what goes on a link.
We’ll see… but I guess it’d be about time to do a C☆NDY Transversal book compiling the “greatest hits” of the 10 years the magazine has been alive, don’t you agree?