Gert Jonkers

Publisher and Editor‚ Fantastic Man

Amsterdam‚ Netherlands
Illustration by Sine Jensen
Interview by Nikolaj Hansson

May 03 2016

He has become a legend in print circles over the past several years. The singular‚ lo-fi gay culture zine‚ BUTT‚ he co-founded with Jop van Bennekom in 2001 practically came to define ‘cult publication’ in the early internet age‚ and though its iconic pink pages are no longer in print‚ it is living quite the afterlife in books and online.

That title’s less-racy but far more handsome successor‚ Fantastic Man‚ has arguably had a grander impact on men’s fashion this generation than any other title‚ with signature formality‚ a well-mannered demeanor and introspective content that upended previously facile notions of stylishness. These traits also run deep on the pages other publications Gert works with‚ including COS Magazine and Fantastic Man’s sister publication‚ The Gentlewoman.

In what way did your first magazine‚ BUTT‚ pave the way for Fantastic Man?

In every possible way. BUTT surely was the big stepping stone to Fantastic Man‚ in that we got to know a lot of people who contributed to BUTT and later to Fantastic Man.  In making BUTT we truly started to enjoy meeting and interviewing and featuring interesting men. Also‚ making a magazine about undressing like BUTT was a great preparation for a magazine about wearing clothes. BUTT and Fantastic Man may focus on two different sides of the male psyche‚ but they’re definitely related‚ somehow.

Is longevity an important aspect to your work?

Not per se. I love the timely aspect of magazines and media. They are for now. There’s nothing wrong with that. (Every health guru and therapist will tell us that we’ve got to live ‘in the now’.) Also‚ I like to think that‚ in work‚ the process is as important as the result. I think that’s why

I became a journalist in the first place‚

because I like the process of getting attracted to a subject‚ being interested‚ investigating‚ digesting the information‚ writing‚ editing‚ etcetera‚ all the way until the outcome (the magazine or the feature article or the series of photographs).

Does making a magazine become more exciting if you’re‚ to some extent‚ unaware of the topic you’re writing about?

Yes‚ absolutely. I love the aspect of discovery during the process of journalism. That’s why I got interested in working for media in the first place. Being a journalist is a perfect excuse to find things out‚ discover things‚ walk into places you normally wouldn’t walk into‚ drink drinks that you otherwise would never drink‚ listen to music or watch films you wouldn’t normally feel attracted to‚ and try on all sorts of clothes that you think you might hate or that might not seem ‘right’ for you but are just such fun to try on.

Clear proof of why being ‘uninformed’ or ‘unaware’ is a very practical situation to be in is the interview: it’s so much easier‚ more interesting and more fun to interview somebody you don’t know very well‚ and it’s pretty tricky to interview a good friend. Nothing’s impossible‚ but a natural and genuine curiosity is very healthy.

Will you ever stop working in print?

Could be. I’m not against change at all‚ and there’s no way to predict the future. I can totally envision a magazine in the form of a sound file or a radio program or something like that. Why not? Maybe I’ll end up writing pop songs‚ who knows?