TQ Nation had the marvelous chance to interview the infamous photographer and co-creator/ editor-in-chief of Original Plumbing Magazine, Amos Mac.
Amos Mac is a world renown trans artist who documents a realistic view of the queer community through his camera. He has been featured in publications like the annual documentary photo book “Cutter”, BUTT magazine, McSweeney’s, Maximum Rock N Roll and in every issue of Original Plumbing.
Original Plumbing is a quartley publication that documents the society of trans males through photography and was inspired by Amos Mac’s vision. A vision that became his full time reality in June 2009 and hit the stands later that year to become the first ever “magazine dedicated to the culture and sexuality of FTM Transsexuals.”
Amos Mac’s revolutionary vision is unique. Why? First, it is a dual creation between the great minds of Amos and his co-conspirer Rocco “Katastrophe” Kayiatos, which has combined the forces of two extremely talented and artistic transmen in depicting a very real look into their community that, up until now, has remained hidden. Most importantly, Original Plumbing is a very intimate and behind the scenes illustration into the lives of female-to-male transsexuals, which has opened the eyes of the world, and for many FtM’s has helped eliminate their feelings of isolation and awkwardness in their own skin.
Fascinated? Interested in finding out what all the fuss is about? Check out OP TV, Fan OP on Facebook, Follow OP on Twitter & Amos Mac on Twitter. Of course, you also need to go directly to Amos Mac’s website to keep up with his latest photography, events and news.
When TQ Nation was flushed with the opportunity (*wink*) for an exclusive interview with Original Plumbing’s, Amos Mac, we were honored! We asked 10 questions and received answers that were comedic, to the point and full of his energy. Amos has already made a huge impression within the community and is on his way to establishing the most profound documented historical magazine of our generation.
Not to mention, he’s a TQ Nation citizen!
TQ: What do you believe has been your biggest role or accomplishment that has benefited the transgendered community?
AM: I feel that launching Original Plumbing magazine has benefited the trans male community for sure. It’s something I’m so proud of, and I had no idea that the response to it would be the way that it has been so far. It’s giving trans men a space to be highlighted and appreciated and giving us all a soapbox to talk about the issues we feel are relevant, and also it’s just so important to be more visible and acknowledge that we exist and we’re all out there and that we all have different stories. I also feel that my photographs of trans men are important for historical purposes… I’m documenting a culture and a group of men who have not been visible for very long and I’m trying to change that.
TQ: What is the craziest thing one of your fans has ever done to get your attention?
AM: Ha ha! This question makes me feel like a Backstreet Boy or something. My life doesn’t really work that way. I’m not exactly a performer or someone who is publicly seen on a stage, and the work I do doesn’t exactly warrant a crazy fan base. Does it? I mean unless I just don’t know about it. Plus in general I’m the type of person who is very approachable so when fans want to get my attention, they’ll usually just email me or walk up to me at an event.
TQ: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
AM: Still photographing, showing my work and publishing. Documenting queer existence in whatever form it has taken on in ten years.
TQ: Who is the one person that has played the most significant and positive role in your life? Why?
AM: Queer and trans artists and allies who have come before me. There are so many, I can’t pick one! Writers, photographers, sex workers, activists, performers… the people who were out there creating art or causing a scene while I was still figuring out my place in the world. All the people who gave me something to read and dream about when I was young. Also, so many of my friends, people that I spend my days and my nights with. The people closest to me inspire me daily. If you want me to name names, here’s a mixed list of all of the above : Rocco Kayiatos, Rhiannon Argo, Tuck Mayo, Leslie Feinberg, Michelle Tea, Max Wolf Valerio, RuPaul, AA Bronson, Cookie Mueller, John Waters, Tammy Faye, Austin Young, Pee Wee Herman, Daniel Nicoletta, George Michael, Michael Alig, Tara Jepsen, Kirk Read, Larry Clark, Ben McCoy, vintage porn, and all the drag queens I hung out with in Arlington, TX in the year 2000. To name a few.
TQ: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far in life?
AM: Original Plumbing magazine. And my moustache.
TQ: Being a face in the “limelight”, what types of privacy or safety concerns have you faced? How did you deal with them?
AM: The privacy and safety concerns I have usually revolve around meeting new people who do not already know me and me figuring out/obsessing over/struggling with how/if/when to disclose to someone that I am trans. Mainly I am referring to these situations in the cases of meeting new people when it comes to dating and/or sex, and how to live a safe life where I’m not putting myself at risk (physically, emotionally or otherwise) by disclosing. A plus side to this is that because of the work that I do, people often assume or know that I am trans, at least in some communities, so that is half the battle for me, because I’d rather people already know.
TQ: What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
AM: It doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have! Just keep shooting. Seriously.
TQ: What is the most interesting or memorable photo shoot you have done?
AM: Every one is pretty memorable for me. Even if I’ve just met the model that day and then never hang out with them ever again, I feel pretty bonded to them for life. From the hundreds of photos I’ll take during a photo shoot with one model, there will always be that one photograph that I single out that forever reminds me of that day or time in my life, or relationship to that specific person. I mainly shoot queer artists, a lot of writers and performers, gender variant individuals, drag performers, people who I feel are iconic in the queer community, so it’s impossible for me to choose just one shoot.
TQ: TQ Nation is giving you a personal soap box – What do you want to say? (include your spout outs: vents, complaints, thanks or anything you want people to know)
AM: Press is dying, and that makes me really sad. Support your favorite magazines, authors, and zines-makers… Purchase them at your local bookstores. Keep print media alive, and keep the stores alive that give printed matter a home.
Also, I love cats.
TQ: What upcoming event/tour can your fans look forward to in the future?
AM: I have two exhibits that focus on trans men I’ve photographed, both in San Francisco — One at the LGBT Community Center (called “The Boys of Original Plumbing – Past, Present & Future”) March 31-May 13th, then another exhibit at the Lexington Club in San Francisco, which will be up from June 22nd for a month. I’ll be doing a huge Original Plumbing model search at that June 22nd opening party, which happens to fall during Pride week madness.
On June 24th, as a part of the National Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco, Rocco Kayiatos and I are curating a multi-media event featuring 6 different trans male performers.
Then, in April 2011 I’ll be on Sister Spit tour with Michelle Tea and an all new line-up.
Written by TQ Nation 1st Lady, Sicily Skye
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