“A man’s first rebellion occurs once he sheds confinement,” according to The Advisor, a new digital gallery that curates handwritten letters of advice from revered men working in the arts. Edited by Alex Kazemi, who also directed a controversial Snapchat film last summer, this newly premiered site is a brother to The Provocateur, which centers on the same concept, but features women, like Molly Crabapple and Karley Sciortino.
For The Advisor’s April launch, Kazemi tapped underground New York filmmaker Richard Kern and Canadian director Bruce LaBruce, with Marcel Castenmiller, Rad Hourani, Justin Tranter and Nabil all in the pipeline. Though Kern acknowledges no one will listen to him because we all think we know everything (true), he offers unusually convincing advice about the importance of posture, while LaBruce lists off 23 key lessons to live by, including winners like, “Monogamy is monotony,” and, “Explore your bisexual potential.”
We caught up with Kazemi in lieu of this week’s premiere to talk about how he chose his subjects, what he hopes to accomplish and why he created a site that focuses specifically on one gender identity.
What’s the purpose of The Advisor?
Alex Kazemi: The Advisor is a digital gallery that will be inviting every week a successful male [or male-identified individual], who has put a dent in our culture, to write a handwritten letter of inspiration to young men or a general male audience. The gallery is mostly meant to empower young men who are struggling with their creativity or internal issues. We want to inspire all different kinds of men, and showcase all kinds of men—and to show that everyone has their own path on coming into their own, along with hitting them with some tricks of the trade.
How did you choose your subjects?
AK: It’s been a long road, but I think we have a diverse bunch. I was just thinking in all the different kinds of careers men might aspire to [have]. What if some guy out there wants to be in front of the camera, like Marcel Castenmiller, or behind the camera like Richard Kern? What if some guy wants to design genderless fashion like Rad Hourani or write pop songs like Justin Tranter? What if some guy wants to make homo-heavy flicks like Bruce Labruce, and make expensive and gorgeous music videos like Nabil? Even though all these careers are different, when they are viewing the gallery, they will receive empowering advice from all the different subjects. We hope to have some athletes in by the end of summer.
Why feature handwritten letters?
AK: Nobody’s handwriting is the same and that represents what I’m trying to get across by curating this gallery. I struggled for a long time with thinking that there was one set way in being creative or even [in being] a man. I thought you had to be like ‘XYZ’ or your process was invalid, but realized at the end of the day, it’s just about doing you. You can be still be successful and create things your way.
What’re you hoping to accomplish by curating this digital archive?
AK: I want to help young men who are in a black hole feel that lightning surge of hope I do when I read a quote or interview with one of my favorite [male-identified] icons. I would ideally like this to be an intimate experience for our viewers, who can learn and open their minds to all different kind of men in our culture. I’d love for stories and topics like abuse and violence to be covered at some point.
What constitutes a “venerated man” to you?
AK: There’s no set idea of what an ideal man is. To [some], a man might be Arnold Schwarzenger or Dan Bilzerian; to another a man might be Trent Reznor or RuPaul. To me, a man is rebellious and sheds confinement, and is comfortable and true to themselves. I respect any man who is being themselves. If men identify with masculine role models and that’s truly in their heart what they want to be, then they should have all the power to be it, along with the men who have role models that explore their feminine or submissive side. I’m all for everything. I think anyone who is being themselves and isn’t disregarding their natural truth is being a man.
Why divide the sites by gender?
AK: I think that any person can relate to this advice, but most of the time it will be for men who can understand being a man. Women can’t understand being a man, and men can’t understand being a women. It’s hard to relate. I just don’t know what it’s like to get dick pics and be objectified and cat-called and fear rape; in the same way, women don’t know what it’s like to get awkward boners and naturally identify with, or be excited by, or be pressured into what is considered ‘male culture’ and ‘male camaraderie.’ I think it will be interesting to see what’s going to happen with the gender binary, and the younger generation. I’m just watching.
Talk me through the two names: The Advisor and The Provocateur.
AK: The Advisor is more about a person who is advising, or watching over them—maybe like a guardian. I think The Provocateur is more about promoting self love toward women, and that women shouldn’t have to be insecure—that they should be strong. It’s provocative for a women to love herself in the truest sense with no underlying insecurity, and I think lots of men just want an advisor—young men, especially. It can be so confusing, trying to navigate all of this alone.
Who’s on your dream list for subjects to feature?
Logic, Marilyn Manson, Future, ILLANGELO, Lex Luger, Mike Will Made It, Diplo, Gus Kenworthy, RuPaul, Marc Jacobs.