Monday 6th December

| BY Paul Toner

Ashish Queers The Pin-Up Calendar Just in Time for Christmas

Back in 2019, before the world seemingly turned upside down, Ashish Gupta took a break from creating his signature, sequined frocks to dabble in photography. The limited-edition publication dubbed Gaze – published by House of Voltaire – was a personal exploration of queer desire that was intimate, playful and totally joyous.

Ashish enjoyed putting the project together so much that he’s picked up the camera once more, this time to shoot a gay ol’ pin-up calendar.

“I studied commercial art at university (fashion came later) so calendars really tick a lot of creative boxes for me,” explains Ashish over email. “They’re often perfectly poised at the intersection of high and low culture. They mix photography, typography and graphic design. They are (literally) a product of their times.”

The A1 calendar features 13 saucy images that, to quote Ashish, “queer the year” – featuring blooming bumholes, Halloween-apt nudes and April showers (read between the lines here). “There’s a long tradition of erotic calendars, although they’re almost exclusively straight and so I wanted to subvert that,” he says. “How is the homo gaze different to the hetero gaze? How can I queer the year? A lot of gay imagery that’s considered hot is often borrowed from straight culture and I wanted to play with that too.

“Gay culture has assimilated and fetishised so many of body ideals and stereotypes,” he continues, “it’s important to create images that don’t fit into neat categories, spaces where there’s room for diversity; room for Black and brown skin; room for skinny guys and big guys; room for older men. It shouldn’t be radical.”

Creating a calendar that subverts the heterosexual male gaze, while celebrating queer bodies in all their uncensored glory, feels empowering. “We are too often shadow-banned online,” he explains, “our bodies are constantly being deleted from digital spaces, so it’s good to rip the centrefold out of the magazine closet and bring it into the light – cocks and arseholes and everything – blow it all up, pin it on our walls and claim a space. It’s telling that a picture of a hard cock on a wall can feel so anarchic.”

The limited-edition calendar costs £75, with all proceeds supporting Studio Voltaire’s artistic and community projects. Buy the calendar online and at House of Voltaire, 1A Nelsons Row, London SW4 7JR. 

houseofvoltaire.org