By Kelly Lovemonster; All photos by Bradley Roberge unless otherwise noted
When AHDM4U sat down to brainstorm the Hearththrob Issue, the first name to go on our list was New York City’s tattooed babe, photographer and publisher Amos Mac. I mean, have you seen his casual swooping front hair tendril? Swoon. Backstory: Mr. Mac was also our Art Basel boyfriend. We spent several days last December frolicking around Miami art fairs and after-parties taking IG selfies. But his boyish good looks and perfect personality for a travel companion aren’t the only things that have us fawning over Mr. Mac. He designed and published the trans-male magazine Original Plumbing and the beautiful trans-female focused TransLady Fanzine. Mr. Mac has been a contributing photographer for Vogue Italia and Butt Magazine, among other publications, and he has shown his photography in galleries all across the country. He’s busy.
Mr. Mac’s images are always beautiful, often hold an undercurrent of struggle and transcendence. Credit for this must go in part to his subjects, strong gender variant individuals whose stories amplify through Mr. Mac’s lens. We sat down with the photographer after the first annual SF Mr. Transman Pageant. Obvs, we talked about his cat, Justin Bieber, and the New Kids on the Block. It’s the Heartthrob Issue!
AHDM4U: When did you start taking photos?
AMOS MAC: I’m not sure how old I was when I started taking photos. I was still in my single digits. I would be asked to take pictures at family events. This was also back in the day when you had to post ads in the paper to find dates. My mother was a single parent, and she would also ask me to take photos of her for ads. I mean, she wouldn’t run the photos in the ads. The ads would read something like ‘single white female in search of,’ and when she made a connection with someone then they would exchange photos.
AHDM4U: Do you consider your current photography a form of activism?
AM: Not really, I think taking photos is fun. I like to look at pictures so I make pictures. I like seeing things in a rectangle or a square. People and moments.
AHDM4U: What’s currently your favorite thing to photograph?
AM: My boyfriend. He hates being photographed, but I think he’s so pretty. So I’m trying to warm him up to the camera. And also I really enjoy taking photos of the cats at my house, Bruce and Namjoo. Bruce is my cat, and Namjoo belongs to Rocco my roommate and Original Plumbing co-collaborator. But those pics are usually just with my phone for Instagram.
Cats from Amos Mac’s Instagram account
AHDM4U: Tell us a funny story about Bruce and Namjoo.
AM: Bruce and Namjoo get along really well. There’s some interesting power play happening between the two. Bruce appears to be a top 90% of the time. If a famous actor were to play Bruce in a made-for-TV movie it would be Alan Cumming. I believe Alan’s a bisexual.
AHDM4U: Who would play Namjoo?
AM: Jeez … Rory Culkin. (laughs) I mean, I was just trying to think of a young boy. I mean Michael Fishman could work too. And I say boy, but I tend to use female pronouns when talking about Namjoo. But Namjoo really looks like Hello Kitty. So in the end it’s kind of hard to find a human that fits.
AHDM4U: We know you love Justin Bieber. What are some of your favorite Justin Bieber moments?
AM: I love the moments before his voice broke like around the time of the song “Baby” and his album My World 2.0, the whole thing is my favorite. The early years before he turned. (chuckles) The moments before “Beauty and the Beat,” you know, that song with Nicki Minaj. That for me was around the time he really started to become cocky. Now One Direction is my age-inappropriate band of choice.
AHDM4U: Are you currently working on any other projects?
AM: Um … I shot a series with Julianna Huxtable for TransLady Fanzine. This is the second edition. I’m just waiting on money to publish it. I’m also doing a lot more work in fashion. I shot Sir New York’s FW14 lookbook. I’ll also be there for [Sir New York designer Auston Björkman]’s Fashion Week presentation and shooting portraits of all the male models. I really love being in that environment. It’s a different experience shooting people who have photographs taken of them for a living. I like it.
AHDM4U: Rumor has it you have a collection of teen mags like Tiger Beat. What do you find so alluring about these magazines?
AM: I like the bright colors, teen culture and pop stars. I always have. I have an international collection actually. Every time a family member or friend goes to another country I have them bring me one back. I recently acquired one from Sweden called Popcorn; my mother brought me back two Italian teen mags — one has One Direction on the cover; and my friend just brought me back a Thai teen mag as well.
AHDM4U: Who was your teen heartthrob?
AM: When I was a teenager I hated everything. But when I was a pre-teen I was all about New Kids on the Block, Joey Lawrence, and Corey Feldmen. Oh, and the guys from Saved by the Bell and 90210.
AHDM4U: You’ve lived in both places. Which do you prefer New York City or San Francisco?
AM: New York City. The struggle feels good. It keeps me going.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER Bradley Roberge is a San Francisco-based photographer who is partial to documentary portraiture in addition to shooting nightlife and food. His most recent project was the 2014 Cub Camp calendar. Find more of his work here.