What do Kerry Katona, Effy from Skins and that politician who dated one of the Cheeky Girls have in common? They all feature in the inaugural issue of Fag Mag, of course!
A self-described “noughties nosh-off zine created for the gays AND the girls,” Fag Mag dives headlong into the 2000s, taking us straight back to a decade of Motorola Razrs, velour-clad heiresses, and all the trashy-fabness that high street retailers are currently flogging back to us by the bulk load.
“If I were to describe Fag Mag in three words, it’d be a controlled sexy chaos,” says 21-year-old journalist, Bailey Slater, who made the zine for his final project at Central Saint Martins. “I wanted to create something that I’d not really seen before; an explicitly queer title marketed towards internet-minded teenagers that love pop culture, music and fashion.”
Growing up in a small suburban village just outside Peterborough, Slater spent most of his adolescence parked in front of a computer screen, devouring as much naff telly and scandalous pop-culture garbage that he could find. What enticed him exactly? “Ugh! Where do I start?” he asks. “The absurdity of product launches, like, getting two of the Atomic Kitten girls to stand next to a gigantic loaf of bread, or the Sugababes doing up billboards for KitKat. Everything Russell T Davies did on Doctor Who to spread the gay agenda. Celebrity Big Brother putting Coolio, Mutya Buena, Tina Malone, LaToya Jackson and Verne Troyer all in one house. There are too many events to mention.”
Ultimately, what fascinates Slater about the 2000s is the idea of fame becoming democratised. “We were making celebrities out of everyone and anyone,” adds Slater. This was a decade where any ol’ lad or ladette could be plucked straight from behind a supermarket till and plonked on the front pages of the tabloids, overnight, thanks to shows like Big Brother and Pop Idol.
Inside the issue, you’ll find a listicle of Xenomania’s best hits (they’re the brains behind all the good Sugababes and Girls Aloud tunes), a deep-dive into the most legendary pop culture moments from ’00-09 and even a guide to “rhinestoning the shit out of” your favourite pair of shoes. There’s also a Madonna horoscope thrown in there, because, why not?
Fag Mag takes everything good about Smash Hits, Just Seventeen and all the other now-folded teen mags noughties kids grew up on and merges it with a so-tacky-it’s-good design lexicon inspired by gossip mags Hello and Heat – with Slater working alongside art director Sam Sands to bring his glittery vision to life.
It’s also worth noting that Fag Mag, isn’t stuck in the past, and instead, Slater dedicates a large chunk of the issue to creatives that are keeping the Y2K vision alive – cleverly dubbed “the GAY2kers”. These include photographer Brent McKeever, fashion designer Chema Diaz and photographer Aadam Sheikh, who shot experimental pop star, GFOTY – straddling a champagne bottle – on the front cover.
As for what’s next for Fag Mag, “I’d love to work with a cool brand to make some merch – that would be really sick. I’m talking branded tampons, bedazzled headphones, perhaps even thongs for men,” says Slater. “I’d love to land a few more of my queer heroes, too. So Nicole Richie and Lil Nas X, if you’re reading this – call me!”
Imagery courtesy of Fag Mag. Purchase Fag Mag’s GAY2K issue here.