Playbear Magazine is a bear-centric magazine. It’s been described as “Playboy” meets “Vanity Fair” meets “GQ” for the bear, otter and cub communities, as well as the broader gay community.
The first thing that stood out to me was the quality of the publication. It’s beautifully produced. The time, care and attention to detail is clear to see on every page, and in every article. Often times, LGBT media doesn’t have the highest production values for a number of reasons (budget restraints, tight deadlines). Playbear Magazine doesn’t show any signs of these constraints.
The thing I loved most about the magazine though, was its content. It’s funny that in these times of 24 hour news cycles and media overload, it’s actually hard to find genuine, original, unique and engaging content. Playbear Magazine touches on a lot of issues that I find fascinating and fun to explore (sex, body image, community). It presents articles, ideas and images in a way that’s fun to read, while giving you something to think about too.
I was very fortunate to be able to chat with Playboy Magazine Founder & Editor Steven Tilotta (pictured below).
LGB – Thanks for your time Steven. I guess the first question I have to ask is what made you decide to launch a magazine in 2015? Everyone’s saying traditional media is dead!
Steven – Well as of right now Playbear Magazine is only available as a digital download, and the environmentalist in me says it always will be. With digital download you can reach more people all over the world. We are putting out a calendar and maybe in a year or two a book with the “Bearcakes” of Playbear.
One of your stated aims with Playbear Magazine is to offer an outlet to celebrate all body types. Why do you think that the gay community tends to focus on a few, very limited beauty ideals? How do you hope Playbear Magazine can help address this issue?
I don’t believe that it is just the gay community that tends to focus on false ideals of beauty. It has been pumped into our minds someone behind a desk feels what we should find attractive. It is a hard battle but I’m up for the challenge.
I truly believe that beauty is everywhere and within everyone if we just pull it out. I know what it is like to weigh 140 lbs with a 6 pack and 220 with a keg. The looks and attention you get are different. I think as a people we need to say enough and decide for ourselves what beautiful or attractive is.
Playbear Magazine features full frontal nudity. One of the things that struck me as I was looking at some of these images, is how infrequently we get to see penises of different sizes, shapes and appearance. I think it’s so important to change the perceptions and expectations around penis size, and what makes a ‘good looking penis’ in general, would you agree?
I think all penises are good looking. In fact, I’ve never met one I didn’t like!
Keep in mind this is the first issue of Playbear and we are growing and learning as we go. In my mind penises are like finger prints they are all different. Is any guy really happy with their penis? I think that would be a great article.
I hear from so many guys I am average. It has truly gotten to the point I don’t even know what ‘average’ is because some guys tell me they are and I see and think damn, I am well hung, I should do porn. Then I see some from guys who told me they were average and I never want to whip mine out again. Are you happy with yours?
I am actually. But it has taken a while for me to get here. It’s actually kind of funny that I came across Playbear Magazine at a time in my life (having just turned 35) where I feel like I might be gravitating naturally towards the bear community. The article ‘What is the bear community? The truth might hurt a bit’ really spoke to me. I really did think (naively I guess) that the bear community isn’t as fixated on appearance as the broader gay community. Turns out this isn’t always the case though?
David who wrote that is a very opinionated guy but I love that about him. He even said the truth stings a bit as a bi-line. I loved his piece and I think we all love to believe “beary tales”. It sounds great doesn’t it that it is an all accepting group, but is any group ever all accepting when you try to get into it? Cliques are real, people just wanting to get laid is real.
I was about your age though too when I started gravitating towards the bears. They are fun to party with, host great events.
For me though it was that my taste in what I was attracted to changed. My partner of 12 years was a US Marine and had a body of death and I thought that was what I wanted. Then I met a guy who was bigger guy a bear 260lbs and he is an amazing man. If you were to put them both in front of me I would pick the bear over the gym rat. I think perhaps that could just be maturity.
The ‘Bad body image’ piece was incredibly powerful. What body images have you experienced in your life, and how did you overcome them?
That is actually my favourite piece in Playbear and will be in every issue. We invite someone to tell their story about how they learned to love themselves are become comfortable in their skin.
Like I mentioned earlier I used to weigh 140lbs and worked out everyday for 3 hours. I thought that my body was everything and that is what people liked about me. I was shallow and a rather prick to a lot of people. Then in a slip a doctor during a routine surgery cut my left and right bile duct and the main artery to my liver. I had to be opened up from the top of my abdomen to my growing and have a pretty nasty scar. You will never catch me with my shirt off. Like most men also, I have issues thinking my penis doesn’t measure up so maybe I will learn through the column.
What’s your favourite article or photographic shoot from the first edition? (For me, I thought the piece on the leather community was excellent in shattering stereotypes, and the Veiled images were absolutely stunning!)
LOL, I can’t answer that! I want them all to continue working for Playbear. I think they are all great and think it offers an alternative to your typical bear porn magazine. I like that we showcase a photographer, and an artist. I hope that it comes across as smart and artsy even with the photography.
What’s the response to the magazine been like so far?
It has been great so far and I just know it will get better and better. At least that is what I am hoping for. I don’t think anything sets out to do anything with the idea of failing to me it is not an option. There is a need for this and I think the time is now.
How can readers get their hands on a copy?
They can go to www.playbearmagazine.com the store and find it there. And just for your readers we will give them a $1.00 off when they use coupon code little gay blog.
Finally, where would you like to see Playbear Magazine in 5 years time?
That is always such a tough question. I would like to think that in 5 years we have made a dent in body image and that we have changed some lives. Maybe I will be happy in my own skin. Most importantly though is that it helped even if it is just one person look in the mirror and love what they see and not give a damn what people might think of them.