Behind the Book: Mouthfeel Magazine

Mouthfeel is not, according to its mission statement, a gay man’s Good Housekeeping. As the suggestive title might suggest, the Brooklyn-based print magazine deals with the culinary world in a very different way. It might be described a little bit gay and a little bit rock and roll. Or perhaps as an adventure in frenetic typography, cut-and-paste artwork, food, and vintage gay porn (that somehow manages to be mostly safe for work). The writing is remarkably personal and funny. Unlike a lot of food publications out there, Mouthfeel isn’t trying to sell you a boutique lifestyle.

We hooked up with Mouthfeel at the Food Book Fair in 2016 and suggested we try producing their next issue as a custom printing project. At the moment, this 9 x 14 format isn’t available via print on demand. But it’s a stellar example of what you can do when you work with our Large Order Services team.

This third issue, hot off the Blurb presses, is about coffee. We asked the perpetually caffeinated founder and publisher, Mac Malikowski, how it all started and where it’s going.

When did the idea of Mouthfeel first occur to you? And did the title come to you at the same time?

The idea of Mouthfeel came to me in 2015. I had been working in restaurants, cafes, and food media for a long time and realized how badly I wanted a food magazine that pertained pretty distinctly to my interests: a mix of food, men, music, and humor. I made a list of 50+ food terms that I thought had a nice double entendre, sounded cool or just made me giggle. “Mouthfeel” was on that list and stuck. It wasn’t till I linked up with my creative director, Yego Moravia, that the concept was really flushed out and we turned the magazine into an oversized art piece with a hardcore zine aesthetic.

I think it’s a great culmination of a lot of what Mouthfeel is about: personalities, sexuality, and an interest in the past.

There’s a ‘zine-like feel to Mouthfeel. Were you one of those teenagers who made ‘zines?

No, I didn’t make zines growing up actually. I was definitely involved in the hardcore and punk scene in Northern Nevada and California, so I was always exposed to DIY politics and art. But I didn’t get into the idea of publishing or image manipulation until I went to college at Hunter.

Since this issue is all about coffee, how much coffee did it take for this to come together?

More than I can remember. In fact, the issue would not have come together without the support of Stumptown, The Barn Berlin, or Variety Coffee Roasters.

Since we’re on the subject of coffee, how about tea?

I love tea! You’ll find a pretty interesting article in this issue about a really cute guy named Max Rivest. He’s developed a brand called Wize Monkey, which produces “Coffee Leaf Tea,” which is tea made from the leaves of the coffee plant. The product is great on a number of levels (taste-wise, environmentally) but it also builds a cool bridge between the two often polarized commodities.

Mouthfeel has a particular size and format—it doesn’t look like any other print magazine out there. How did you settle on the trim size and paper?

Being “different” was definitely a goal when developing Mouthfeel. Part of the impetus for the magazine, actually, was the pervasiveness I saw of the “Kinfolk-esque” lifestyle magazine. Magazines that have been coming out over the last decade have had a very similar content style. This is true in their delivery as well. We wanted a magazine with a peculiar size, shape, and opening experience. Where it’s been problematic for shipping and merchandising, it’s also been a blessing to be noticed by high end retailers that sell MF like Colette Paris, UnionMade in SF, and Ooga Booga in Los Angeles.

There’s a fascinating story about your obsessive search to find out more about this issue’s muse, porn actor Buck Hayes. It sounds like it’s pretty easy for you to go down a rabbit hole of research. Have any other details of his story come in since you went to press?

I’m really proud of “Coffee With Buck Hayes”. It’s a great culmination of a lot of what Mouthfeel is about: personalities, sexuality and an interest in the past. I’ve been very lucky to get this  far with this story, but there are definitely still some questions to answer.

How do you distribute something like Mouthfeel? If someone wants to pick up a copy, where can they get it?

We have 10 retailers around the world, from Pittsburg, to Berlin, and LA. You can find a retailer near you at mouthfeelmag.com. You can also order directly through our site (including t shirts, original art, posters, and vintage magazines, and cookbooks too!)

What’s the next issue about?

Either a cover story on trans competitive eaters or a high gloss nude photo series of former NY Times food critic Frank Bruni. Any leads are appreciated!

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