On the heels of the release of his new book SEX = POWER = FREEDOM, Andrew Christain embarked on an international tour to promote his Indigogo-funded photo journal of the world-famous Andrew Christian models. I caught up with Andrew while he was in Las Vegas for a book tour and a preview of his spring fashion collection.
"Is that for me?" I said as Andrew greets me and unwraps the Gold Limited Edition. "It is," he replied. I had become familiar with the book last month with the announcement in our February issue but had only seen digital previews.
The project began last October when Andrew started an Indigogo campaign to raise funds to print the book. The campaign raised over $100,000 in just four months.
There are two versions of the book: a holographic silver version available on andrewchristian.com, and a Gold Limited Edition which is reserved for people that come to a book signing event where we give a limited number out for free in a raffle.
QLife: We are strong advocates of crowdfunding. In fact, we just signed on for our 3rd year as sponsors of the Global Crowd Funding Conference here in Las Vegas. Tell us a little about your Indigogo campaign.
Andrew: We started the campaign in October. We had over 1,000 people contribute to the campaign. Even before we printed the book we had that many people believing in us and backing us. Everyone that contributed to our IndieGoGo campaign also received a copy of the Gold Limited Edition.
QLife: You are known as one of the most popular brands in underwear and swimwear for gay men. What inspired you to publish a book?
Andrew: There was a lot of messages on LGBT empowerment that I wanted to work into the book that had to deal with sex.
QLife; Mostly "G" empowerment looking at some of the pictures.
Andrew: Yeah. Right. [Laughs] After the election had happened, I had already sent the book off to the printer, and they were about to go to press, and I pulled it back after the election and re-wrote the book and gave it a definite voice. It was already going that direction. In some communities, especially San Francisco and Los Angeles, we lived in a bubble and started taking things for granted. I've done gay prides around the world and the weren't like they are here. They weren't celebrations, they were political movements. They were there asserting their rights to exist, to be open and accepted.
QLife: Why do you think you have such a strong brand appeal to the gay community?
Andrew: If I wasn't gay, I wouldn't be as successful as I am. Being gay is what makes me so successful.
QLife: You're in Las Vegas tonight for your book signing at Piranha Nightclub. Where does your tour have you going?
Andrew: We're going all through the US, Israel, Mexico, Spain, UK, We're booked out now through July, but will keep adding locations. We just did Los Angeles last night, but we'll be back in May for DragCon. It's such a fun event.
QLife: We've made such great strides in equality over recent years. You said you pulled the book back from the printers after the election. Do you feel that our equality is still at risk?
I came across discrimination just trying to get the book printed. I was working with one printed in Hong Kong and everything was ready to go, and at the last minute they dropped the project, and they wouldn't give me a reason why. One of my best friends who lives in Hong Kong called them up to speak to them in Chinese, and basically, they were homophobic cowards that didn't want to be associated with the book. There's nothing in Hong Kong law that says it's illegal to print this.
QLife: Your models are known for representing your underwear and swimwear designs, but there are some nude photos in the book?
Andrew: Yes, some slight nudity.
QLife: One of the models, Arad, fled Iran. Tell us a little more about his story.
Andrew: He's here now and has his green card. He defected from the Iranian military and walked two days through the snow to escape from Turkey. He was thrown in prison for 6 months because he had a fake passport. He was able to get into the UN relocation program because if he were sent back to Iran, he would have been killed for leaving the military. If he were found out to be gay, he would have been killed as well. He lived in Turkey for three years during the relocation process, then was relocated to Dallas with $500. He even had to pay back his plane ticket to the UN. Now he's a model and traveling all over. Today he would have been turned away for being Muslim.
QLife: This could have just been an erotic coffee table book and done well. Yet you chose to take on more of an activist role with some of the messages.
Andrew: Not that I'm Nostradamus, but some of these things I wrote are coming true:
"People will try to limit your sexual freedom, civil liberties, and right to exist to increase their own power, and they may be your own friends and family."
I think a lot of LGBT people found out after this election that a lot of people in their family voted for an administration that is against them.
QLife: What's been your biggest surprise in writing the book?
Andrew: I didn't expect so many people to crowdfund it before a tangible thing was made. That felt really good.
QLife: This is your first book. How does this compare to when your first garment came out of the factory?
Andrew: This is more fulfilling because it's touching peoples lives in a different way. Giving them courage, Giving them ambition.
QLife: Do you see yourself moving into more of an activist role?
Andrew: I definitely do. I have a voice and part of having a voice and having reach is to use it for good for our community.