Monday, June 2, 2014

GUYDAR: The Surreptitious Imagery of Matthew Rettenmund

If you are unfamiliar with Matthew Rettenmund, here's a crash course. Matthew was the founder of Popstar! Magazine back in 1998 and was Editor in Chief of the publication until 2012. Popstar! was the very first teen entertainment title to be published in full color on glossy paper. It is credited as being the blueprint for the teen celebrity magazine market as we currently know it. All the other magazines started imitating Popstar's look and feel. And as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Matthew was the first to cover future teen idols Zac Efron, Hilary Duff, Jessica Simpson, the Jonas Brothers and more.

But, we are just getting started. Rettenmund is also an acclaimed novelist and pop-culture historian. His books include the novel Blind Items: A (Love) Story (1998) and pop-culture non-fiction books  Encyclopedia Madonnica (1995), Totally Awesome '80s (1996) and Hilary Duff: All Access (2005). And let's not forget the hilarious, politically incorrect spoof Queer Baby Names: A Completely Irreverent Guide to Naming Your Lesbian/Gay Tot, which he co-wrote with Jaye Zimet.

But, perhaps most popular of all is Matthew Rettnemund's 1995 clever, insightful debut novel Boy Culture, which was made into a highly entertaining movie in 2006 by Q. Allan Brocka. The film played at Tribeca, Outfest, NewFest and tons of other film festivals around the world. Author Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy) praised Boy Culture, "...Mr. Rettenmund's little throw-away deconstructions of Madonna...and his run-through of current gay 'types' are genuinely new. We need an observer like this, someone capable of analysis and interpretation, simply because what he is observing is constantly reinventing itself... Matthew Rettenmund, with his sharp eye and his careful, knowing prose, sounds like one of the freshest voices on the block." The Boy Culture movie is on Netflix right now. Go watch it! 

Which brings us to Matthew Rettenmund's amazing BoyCulture.com blog. Matthew started the blog in 2005. Always fresh, always provocative, Boy Culture is just a glimpse into whatever parts of life happen to catch Matthew's attention on any given day. But, there has been one amazing mainstay on his site - GUYDAR - surreptitious images of amazingly attractive men who, for the most part, are unaware they are having their photo taken while they go about their lives. There is no posing. No preening. Just candid, heartwarming, and insanely charming images of guys with their guard down. 

I asked Matthew where he came up with the inspiration for Guydar and if he recalls about his first picture. 
Matthew: I was totally taken with the iPhone's camera the moment I got the first version of it. I loved that it would take interestingly blurred photos as I passed by people, places and things. Then, I was standing by these boys in Chicago at the John Hancock building, and the way they were standing together looked hot and interesting at once to me. I snapped, and the rest is (my) history. I believe that was the first legit one, though I did take some other cool dude shots before that, one of which was so trippy I couldn't believe I'd taken it—this guy in a crowd in Times Square, and his face came out clear and everyone around him was a blur.


And, of course, I had to ask if anyone had ever reacted negatively to having their picture posted.
Matthew: I've had I think one negative reaction (out of a grand total of maybe two dozen reactions): A woman wrote me a legalistic letter on behalf of her "flattered" straight male pal who didn't appreciate being photographed with his permission, demanding I take it down. I replied to her, politely, to tell her I had every legal right to take and reproduce the image and reserved the right to do so in the future, but that I was happy to remove it from my blog for the time being. I'm not out to embarrass anyone; I'm trying to do street photography in a complimentary way.
Matthew further explains the legality of Guydar images in an interview with 60by80.com, "If you’re in public, you’re fair game. The only restrictions are in places where privacy is assumed (a locker room, a john) or shooting intentionally up someone’s clothing by positioning yourself in a spot that would grant you that access."

There's lots of great ways to view the entire Guydar series. I would start with the BoyCulture.com blog collected works, since they are full sized and you can see the images as Matthew intended. If you wanna be able to view them all super quickly as portraits, Matthew Rettenmund's Instagram is ideal! And, of course, you should follow Matthew on Twitter!





*Image of Matthew Rettenmund courtesy of Venfield 8.

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