Caitlyn, Hastert, the Pope, Yadda, Yadda… I’m All About Mouthfeel

So many items on the homosexual agenda this fortnight! LGBT Command Central, hidden in a secure underground chamber deep below a bar in Hell’s Kitchen — if I named it, they’d have to poison me — has been working overtime to keep us in the spotlight.

First we’ve got the Dennis Hastert shocker: turns out the former speaker of the US House of Representatives has been paying hush money to an as-yet-unidentified male to keep him from revealing the sexual abuse he suffered at Hastert’s, um, hands when Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach back in East Jesus, Illinois.

Yes, high school wrestlers can look fetching in their tight spandex singlets, and as YouTube viewers fond of college wrestling matches also appreciate (who, me?), young wrestlers often get what the novelist Carl Hiaasen calls “supernatural erections” at the most inappropriate times. But keep your tongue in your mouth, Coach. High school kids are off limits. You can look, but you must never, ever touch.

The sweet irony of three sanctimonious Republican congressional leaders – Hastert, Newt Gingrich, and former Speaker-elect Bob Livingston — all of whom worked feverishly to impeach Bill Clinton only to have their own gross sexual misconduct brought to light — was scarcely lost on Barney Frank, who discussed his disgust on Huffington Post Live. Hastert, of course, opposes same-sex marriage, but had no such moral opposition to forcing himself on a teenage boy. The GOP is beyond hypocritical. It’s sociopathic.

Next we’ve got the aftermath of Ireland’s overwhelming vote in favor of marriage equality, including one militant Catholic goofball blaming Pope Francis for the lopsided numbers. The twisted logic behind this hypothesis is that Francis didn’t launch a publicity blitz in support of Irish bigots, so too many Catholics either voted Yes or sat out the referendum altogether. Never mind that countless other commentators noted the steep drop in the Church’s influence after a multitude of Irish pedophile priests got caught with their chasubles up. It’s tough to maintain absolute authority over people’s moral sense when your company looks less like a religion than an organized crime syndicate.

And we’ve got chic Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair! Brava, Caitlyn! You look marvelous!

But this week’s Media Circus isn’t focused on any of those stories. Instead, we’re celebrating the launch of Mouthfeel, a gorgeous new magazine devoted to men, food, and visual culture. The creators of the journal describe it as “a unique food magazine written from a gay point of view featuring hardcore punk aesthetics and content. With a personality-forward focus, the magazine explores the complexities of food and the characters involved. Designed for readers with unrestrained appetites for food, men, music, and humor, each issue will contain profiles, photos, artwork, recipes, essays, and more.”

I have no idea what “personality-forward” means, though the expression calls Lypsinka to mind. And sorry, fellas, but your elegant magazine has no hardcore punk aesthetics. I was at CBGB one night when Johnny Thunders spat a mouthful of beer on the audience. That was hardcore punk aesthetics. There is nothing remotely similar in Mouthfeel.

Mouthfeel is a New Yorker’s magazine. It’s slick, sophisticated, funny, and brimming with hot men. It’s got ambition writ large all over it. The founder and editor-in-chief, Mac Malikowski, has a résumé that drops high-end names paired with low-level jobs — Daniel Boulud, for whom he worked as a busboy; Red Rooster’s Marcus Samuelsson, in whose office he once interned; and Momofuku’s David Chang, for whom he worked in unspecified front-of-house roles. He even goes so far as to trumpet the fact that for five years he was a barista at Blue Bottle Coffee. Take that, Bobby Flay!

The first issue profiles Ty-Lor Boring, a “Top Chef” contestant and chef at the locavore restaurant Almond, and Renato Poliafito, the co-owner of the sweets-specializing Baked. There’s a feature story on Fritz and Co., a currywurst stand in Berlin. But my favorite section is called Plates, which consists of what a press release delicately describes as “full-page artwork and design contributed by Ariel Roman and friends at Mother New York.”

Oh, honey, please. Don’t mince words! Plates is a series of photos of pornish men in various states of nakedity with food products superimposed over their cocks. One particularly alluring foundational photo appears to be circa 1980 — a black and white shot of a handsome, jacked stud lifting up his shirt to reveal a flat belly and exquisite treasure trail running down from his navel to a most invitingly thick forest of black pubes and a full-color Squirt ad layered over his rod.

Another, also looking like it comes from the ‘80s, is a black and white photo of a classic Colt type with a dark mustache and hairy pecs overlaid with a fuzzy color image of a Miracle Whip jar and a spoon holding a glob of the thick, white, inedible dressing. (The atrocious Miracle Whip always reminds me of my misguided cousin, who tried to make the hot artichoke dip that everyone was serving that season. It tasted awful, and Sally couldn’t figure out why. “I followed the recipe!” she defensively insisted. I asked her if she really followed the recipe. “Well, I used Miracle Whip instead of Hellmann’s,” she explained, at which point I dissolved in derisive laughter.)

On Mouthfeel’s first cover is a handsome dude with luscious eyes whose shoulders and upper arms line up perfectly with a Bundt cake pan spliced below him, forming a circle of edibility. The recipe for a lemon-blueberry Bundt cake, printed on glossy postcard stock, comes along with the magazine, as does a series of four small round pins. One is a smiley face with the words “rump roast” forming the mouth. Another seems at first glance to be an abstract series of pink circles with a dark sketched rim but upon closer inspection reveals itself to be a beautiful nipple surrounded by a border of chest hair. The whole package includes the magazine, the pins, the recipe card, and two posters, one of which is Robinson Muir's tribute to the Spotted Pig (a great restaurant in the West Village), the other a poem by Daniel Zomparelli titled “Lasagna, Slow (an instructional sonnet).” The poet employs the word sonnet in a figurative sense, since the poem does not consist of 14 lines of iambic pentameter.

The magazine is oversized, reminiscent of Interview. It’s 10 x 16 inches and comes along with the posters and pins in a 13 x 18 inch zip-lock bag suitable for marinating shrimp, fish, chicken breasts, or pork chops.

The first issue of Mouthfeel had a very small print run and quickly sold out online. I’m told it’s available exclusively at Colette, a fantastic Parisian cult store. But I cannot verify its availability, for even though I asked very politely and made what I still believe was an extremely persuasive argument, my earnest and hard-working editor failed to approve my pitch for Gay City News to send me to Paris on assignment.

Checking out the website — — is the next best thing. Superbly designed, it’s full of terrific content, with everything from an interview with the wizard behind Instagram’s “DragQueensEating,” Diana Dzhaketov (get it?*), and a spring playlist that links via Spotify to a bunch of hip video clips, my favorite being one in which a handsome guy with thinning hair on his head but thick black fur on his neck, upper chest, and shoulders simply runs his hand across his mustache, raises his eyebrows, and shoots us a thumbs-up with an adorable smirk.

So Malikowski, bro — I gave you a fantastic review. Give me a copy of the first issue. This is not quid pro quo. It’s just the right thing to do.

Follow @edsikov on Twitter. And re: * — It’s pronounced “jack-it-off.”