'cave homo' is where skaters and queer artists collide
The second edition of Luke Williams cult zine features Lacey Baker, Matty Matheson, and a host of queer artists.
Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein.
Luke Williams publishes Cave Homo, the brilliantly named zine that made quite the splash last year with an issue dedicated to skateboarder Brian Anderson, who’d just come out in a Vice documentary. It depicted Anderson in a gloriously queer light that had nothing to do with skating, and was unapologetically personal. Issue two is no different, this time featuring another queer skater, Lacey Baker, aka “The Rebel Queen of Skateboarding,” alongside the work of 17 queer artists.
Obviously, the scope of the magazine is ambitious, which comes down to Williams’ fierce belief in what he does. “I actually moved here [to New York] to work for a gay magazine, and it was the worst job I’ve ever had,” he laughs when asked how he came to be a magazine publisher. “I don’t want some corporate view — I want people to be themselves wherever they are, and be okay with it.” We talked to Williams about how he arrived at his all inclusive worldview.
Tell us about how Cave Homo came about.
My friend Christian Trippe was coming here to work for six months, and I said we should do a project, and I thought we should do a tattoo zine with Brian Anderson, as we’re friends. And Brian said, “I don’t know about a tattoo zine, but maybe something, let’s figure it out.” We planned a photoshoot, and Brian brought maybe three or four big sketchbooks of his drawings, and an envelope of Polaroids, and outfit changes. So it went from “Let’s take pictures of your tattoos,” to this whole thing. I think we took about 2,000 pictures by the end of the day.
We wanted to distill it down to something that was really pure. Brian really went out of his way to give us something incredible, and I was afraid to show it to him because it was a different aesthetic to what he’d shown before.
The magazine has a very unique visual aesthetic because of that.
He’d just come out in his Vice documentary, which was a look at him in the skate world. This was just a look at him as an individual, being open and gay. I grew up loving Brian as a skateboarder. I guess really, it just went from there, and we took it as an opportunity to put something really new out there for Brian, outside of the lens of skateboarding.
Brian has such a great personal style.
He has such style, he loves putting together crazy looks, and it’s just instinctively him.
How did you alight on the name? Cave Homo is so great.
The reason it’s called Cave Homo is because Brian had scribbled it in bright orange on a black notebook, it was one of the ones he brought. He wasn’t necessarily correlating it to being gay, more like “Cave Homosapiens.” but I was like, “That’s what we’re going to call it!”
My idea is that it’s a lens on gay culture and people, including our 17 different queer contributors. It’s a different look from the traditional media at what queer or gay people are, and perhaps less polished. And that is important to me, because I don’t want some corporate view — I want people to be themselves wherever they are, and be okay with it.
LGBTQ magazines can be terrifying.
I actually moved here to work for a gay magazine, and it was the worst job I’ve ever had, and I’ve always worked blue collar jobs. It was super anti how I thought gay people should be represented, so I left after five months — it was my first design job after going to school in my late 20s. So I left and went to work in other things besides publishing, being a designer. But I had a hankering, and Cave Homo issue one was my first publication — which I’m very happy about!
What went into making issue two?
Well, when I was a dishwasher and repairman I was still into artistic endeavours and wanted to be a part of it. There have been people I’ve been following creatively for years before I could engage with them and try to work with them. So it’s people I’ve been a fan of. James Unsworth I’ve been a fan of for maybe eight years or more at this point, but I didn’t have an outlet to do anything with them. And the rest of them are friends. Everyone was pretty on board with it, which really blew me away. I was continually getting new stuff in, which kind of propelled me to keep going.
It also sounds like a typical print magazine nightmare!
Things were coming in the day of printing, and I was scrambling! Even after eight months of compiling material. All together between photographers, and stylists, and makeup, and assistants, I think there’s around 25 people involved in this issue. And it’s just me organizing that!
Where can we buy Cave Homo?
The main way I distribute it is through my website, and then the store McNally Jackson has picked it up, and Printed Matter! And then the Cave Homo Instagram is the best place to stay up to date with all our work and events, stuff like that.
We’re just happy to see that other people want to see glamor shots of Matty Matheson.
It was so amazing, when he did the shout out on his Instagram, people started ordering the magazine. At the end of the day, I put $12,000 on a credit card to make this happen, and the money I make off this I donate to charity, and give to the Trevor Project. But yes, I never imagined that Ryan McGinley would give me photographs of Matty Matheson.