Senior West Hollywood Correspondent, Poppy Fields chats with
creator and photographer of the
“THE MEN OF 2015: LOS ANGELES” CALENDAR
Every smart chanteuse has a top-notch team of professionals around her, and usually one of them is a fantastic photographer (or should be). I’m a lucky lady, because my go-to photographer is the wonderful Austin Wondolowski, with whom I’ve been working for about 4 years.
Austin was based in Los Angeles for a short time, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay area; but on a recent visit to West Hollywood, we sat down to discuss a fantastic new project that he has in the works.
PF: Austin, darlin’, it’s great to see you, and thanks for working me into your schedule while you’re visiting, because I know you’re busy! I’ve missed you!
AW: I’ve missed you too! This trip has been a non-stop thrill ride, but there’s no way I wouldn’t take the opportunity to visit with you, Ms. Fields. By the way, great show at the The Cavern Club Celebrity Theatre. Bravo! Congratulations to both you and Mack on your sold out run.
PF: Thank you so much. We had a great time! And by the way, I need new photos…
AW: I’m sure we can work something out, my dear. Let’s tawk…
PF: You and I could talk about so many things, but what I’d love to discuss today is your upcoming calendar – “The Men of 2015: Los Angeles.” Now, I know this will be your third “Men of…” calendar. Tell me a little about the first two, and how this one came to be.
AW: In 2012, while living in Los Angeles, I wanted to create a project that would not only allow me to exercise my photographic skills, but network a bit in this town that’s all about who you know. The first year I teamed up with the (insanely hot) Shawn Morales…you know, “Pit Crew” member on RuPaul’s Drag Race?
PF: Oh, yeah…I know Shawn…hubba hubba…
AW: The calendar was a cross-promotion project to not only promote my photography, but to promote the several monthly events Shawn produces and hosts in the LA area. I met a lot of great people; and the calendar, although not a financial success, was a HUGE success as far as getting my name out there.
After moving back to the San Francisco Bay Area last year, I decided to take what I had learned from producing the 2013 calendar, use it, and apply it to a “new and improved” 2014 calendar featuring the men of San Francisco. It was a crazy to me how much coverage the calendar got. It was featured on smaller blogs, like Accidental Bear, to mega blogs like LogoTV and NewNowNext (alongside calendars for Beyoncé, Tom Daley and Ben Cohen, I might add).
PF: That’s wonderful. And you do the whole thing – layout and photography – because you have a background in graphic design, right?
AW: Wow, Poppy, you’re very well informed.
PF: Well, I do my research.
AW: I do. I work every angle of the calendar from casting, organization, shooting, designing, printing, releasing and fulfilling orders. It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding. I attended school for photography very briefly, but when I realized it was going to cost me $250k to get an art degree…I changed majors and went into graphic design. It’s always shocking to me how I’ve been able to marry these two areas of my life into a unified skill set.
PF: This 2015 calendar is being done as a fundraiser for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, which I think is fantastic.
AW: It absolutely is. I decided that if I were to do a calendar for 2015, I wanted it to be able to give back to the LGBTQIA community. I thought if I could get some of the more high-profile, connected-to-the-community men of LA to agree to pose for me, I would turn it into a charity calendar to benefit the LA Gay & Lesbian Center.
PF: And you’ve managed to land some amazing guys for the shoot.
AW: To say the least! Colby Melvin, Mario Diaz, Mike Munich, Karamo Brown, James Cerne, David Pevsner, Ross Milam, Dominick Munafo, Jesse Jordan, Dan Lovell, Andrew Blake Ames and Brad Townsend are all slated to participate. On a side note, Brad Townsend is our only “ally” model…and I couldn’t be happier to have him. It’s straight people like Brad that are helping us all bridge the gap to equality.
PF: Yeah, he could be my “ally” any day of the week…woof! So, did you meet a lot of them when you were photographing weekly “nights” here at the clubs? Remind me which events you photographed?
AW: While living in LA, I was fortunate enough to be asked to photograph some really fun events. “DiLF” (presented by DJ Ryan Jones) and “Big Bad Wolf” (presented by Shawn Morales) at Faultline Bar were my “ongoing” events…and I met some really great (hot) guys through those events. Ironically, most of the men that are being featured in this year’s calendar are not ones I met through the nightlife circuit.
PF: “DiLF” and “Big Bad Wolf” sounds like my target demographic for dates. It’s great that you got so many to sign-on for this.
AW: I took a leap of faith and specifically reached out (cold) to most of these guys, presented this idea and asked them if they’d be interested in participating. Poppy, they have been so wonderful. They were right there saying yes and offering whatever level of help I needed and whatever they could provide. A couple of the guys, Colby Melvin of Colby Melvin and James Cerne of Slamenskraam, are actually designing fashion for us to use during the shoot. Sam Salman of Horse of Arabia is also graciously designing and providing pieces for my guys. I’m a very fortunate and grateful guy.
PF: Where can people go online if they would like to contribute?
AW: We have a GoFundMe page setup at www.LA2015AW.com so folks can help us raise the capital necessary to produce the calendar. Once they are produced, the same website will direct people to our store where they can purchase the finished product. This way 100% of the money raised from the sale of these calendars will go directly to the Center (along with any unused production costs).
PF: I hear you have a really attractive makeup person for the day as well.
AW: As a matter of fact…I do! Thank you, Poppy, for donating your time and talents to this fundraising effort. It is going to be a blast. I’ll be so busy the day of the shoot…I’ll need you to be my eyes and ears…
PF: I’ll try my best, but with all those guys around, it’s going to be very distracting! Listen, thanks so much for talking with me. I wish you the best of luck on the calendar, I can’t wait to work on it with you, and I hope you raise bunches of money. It’s certainly for a good cause.
AF: It’s been my pleasure, as always, to spend some time with you, my dear! I’m looking forward to seeing how much good comes from this project. No matter what, I am already proud of everyone involved for making the effort to make a difference.
“The Men of 2015: Los Angeles” calendar will be available Autumn 2014.
For more information or to contact Austin: