THE XXX FILES
Tired of gay erotica's guilt- laden messages, publisher NEAL CAVALIER-SMITH is reinventing the top shelf with his Prowler Press empire. Words: Lila Rawlings
V‘thO REVIEWS 0 SEXY
THE HIGH PRIEST of gay porn would be an accurate description of Neal Cavalier-Smith. At the helm of the successful publishing group Prowler Press Ltd. he produces more than 40 magazines and videos annually, also overseeing Prowler Soho in the heart of London’s West End — the first gay superstore. a boy’s one stop shop for all things erotic. complete with a travel agent and trendy coffee bar.
Cavalier-Smith’s enthusiastic. zealous approach to achieving his mission st0ps nothing short of sexual evangelism. ‘lf you can‘t feel good about gay sex. how can you feel good about being a gay man‘?’ says the Prowler Press MD. He believes sex is a defining moment for gay men and as such should be a good, guilt-free part of their lives. Still under 30 and at the helm of a multi-million pound business. he has hit the jackpot.
Prowler Press was founded partly out of
Cavalier-Smith‘s frustration with the magazines available to him as a young gay college student. ‘They didn’t speak to me about the way I felt and were bordering on self—oppression and guilt,’ he says. ‘The models were hairy leather men and skinny street kids. My sexual fantasies were in full colour and bursting with GQ models.‘ With a bank loan and experience of publishing his student rag tnag, Cavalier- Smith went to work on a fresher. younger looking magazine from his student flat in Sunderland. The oflice — an answer machine under a bed in London — was checked daily from the college computing faculty. That magazine went on to become the Prowler Press‘s best-seller. Euro/Ivy. bursting with fresh-faced, clean shaven models. Since then.
Man size: gay porn is big business for Prowler Press
other magazines and videos have been added to the Prowler Press catalogue including Hunk, Uniform and Prowler, which cater for more mature tastes and bigger muscles.
Cavalier-Smith prefers to describe Prowler Press’s publications as erotica rather than pornography. ‘ln Britain. porn is taken to mean hard core stuff,’ he says. ‘I prefer erotica. since pornography still has bad connotations.’
Part of Prowler Press’s guilt-free message is based on Cavalier-Smith’s idea of gay erotica or pornography as compliance. ‘ln straight pornography there is a big argument raging about sexism and the exploitation of women, which isn’t an easy argument to counter,’ he says. ‘What we do is totally different in that there are gay men participating for and amongst themselves in something that they all want. There is no issue of one sex dominating another. A lot of straight pornography is
’The models were hairy leather men and skinny street kids. My sexual fantasies were in full colour and bursting with GQ models.’ Neal Cavalier-Smith, Prowler Press
degrading and exploitative towards women.’
Despite his distaste for mainstream porn, he admits to borrowing devices used in straight porn magazines.
‘When I was starting out. I went out and brought armfuls of magazines with names like Big 'uns.’ he giggles. ‘At first EumBoy was just pictures because we felt people could build their own fantasies, but readers kept writing in asking for models’ names, how old they were etc, so we started putting all of that in. Now our magazines look more like straight magazines, with readers’ letters, confessions and readers’ husbands. These are formulas people want. These things help readers to access their fantasies.’
For Prowler Press publisher and photographer Bjorn Anderson, finding models is the easiest part of the job. The company has talent scouts in all the major UK cities, but the majority of models volunteer to be photographed or filmed for a nominal fee.
‘lt’s usually something they do for their egos, for fun or horniness, but the last group are usually disappointed.’ says Anderson. ‘On most photographic shoots there’s a lot of standing around waiting for hours doing nothing. We’re trying to make things more accessible for our readers by presenting each of them as someone who could live next door, someone that you could, literally, get to grips with.’
Although gay pornography is increasingly available and visible on the shelves of major UK book stores and record shops, Cavalier- Smith is concerned about what he describes as ‘the more difficult attitudes towards sex, particularly homosexuality, that exist in Scotland‘. While most of the aforementioned magazines and videos are available in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland’s smaller cities and towns continue. for now, to ignore Cavalier-Smith’s guilt-free ‘gay sex is good sex’ message.
If there’s one man willing to go a few rounds with the ghost of John Knox, though, I can think of no one better qualified.
For a free Prowler Press catalogue, call freephone 0800 454566.
9—22 Jan 1998 TIIE UST 17