Type/Face’s Gabe Ayala Talks Porn, Underwear & More

LA-based photographer Gabe Ayala has a daring, distinctive style that sets him apart from his peers. Frequently shooting adult performers in a style at once raunchy and decidedly high fashion, Gabe’s downtown aesthetic is nothing if not captivating. Having shot for underwear brands and various print publications, the young entrepreneur has begun publishing his own magazine Type/Face with friends and collaborators Colby Keller and Will Wikle lending their talents to the new venture.

As a little experiment, we assigned one of our contributors to speak to Gabe without any prior knowledge of the photographer’s work. The results were quite revealing, as Gabe opened up about his personal style, aesthetic behind the camera, and what he’s planning to wear to his first ever underwear party.

Check out the full Gabe Ayala interview as well as some of his hottest photos below, and keep your eye out for this one—he’s sure to be full of surprises!

The Underwear Expert: So my editor put me on this assignment and I was instructed to know nothing about you, and I’ve done my assignment!

Gabe Ayala: [Laughs] Okay, no problem!

TUX: I’ll start with, are you a model?

Gabe: No, I’m actually a photographer and magazine editor.

TUX: So.. you work with models. Are they often in their underwear?

Gabe: Yes, I’ve done a lot of work for Marco Marco, and I shoot models in and out of underwear, as well as fully clothed for more fashion-oriented shoots.

TUX: By ‘in and out of underwear’ do you mean you shoot models naked?

Gabe: Yes.

TUX: Are these more stylized, NSFW photos or actual pornography?

Gabe: Definitely more stylized, but I have actually shot with a number of porn stars.

TUX: What porn stars have you worked with recently?

Gabe: I’ve shot with several Randy Blue models, including Sean Zevran and Jordan Levine. Also Nicco Sky and Lucky Daniels, who are also really close friends of mine. I’ve shot with a bunch of CockyBoys models, including Jake Bass, Max Ryder, JD Phoenix, Levi Karter, Dillon Rossi, and Ricky Roman. I’m actually shooting Colby Keller tomorrow here in LA. We’re doing a sort of superhero nerdy type theme, playing off his own personality.

TUX: Wow. That sounds awesome, we love Colby! You said you were also a magazine editor, what magazine do you work for?

Gabe: Well, I just started a magazine called Type/Face.

TUX: So you’re the Editor in Chief? Can you tell us a bit about the project and what inspired you to start it?

Gabe: I started Type/Face because I felt that there was a resurgence in the zine market, and I was seeing a renaissance in printed materials—almost as a form of fetishism because everything is so readily available online. [I was also seeing] even more online zines, since it’s so easy to self-publish nowadays—anyone who can tinker around with InDesign can produce one and sell one in a variety of different ways.

But the work that I was seeing was kind of redundant and regurgitated, and I felt that there was a sort of apathy with the work that was being produced, because it was on a lower commodity point than an actual printed magazine. The effort wasn’t being put forth, and I really wanted to pour myself into this project. Even though it’s not something of the caliber you’d buy on a newsstand, it’s still quality work.

TUX: Is it a free magazine like Next or H/X used to be?

Gabe: No, it’s available for purchase at shop.typefacemag.com. It’s actually printed and bound, and they’re all limited runs. Each issue will only run for about 500 copies. We sell them at a certain price point, because of the A-work put into it, and it’s printed on high quality paper so it’s not something that’s necessarily a throwaway.

TUX: What’s the nature of the editorial content? It includes much of your own photography, and do you also write stories? Does it cover what’s going on in LA, or any sort of special interest?

Gabe: The first issue, and probably the first few, will primarily be composed of my own photography. I do want to open this up to collaborators but it’s difficult to ask people to collaborate on a project you can’t visually show or explain perfectly. So I had to put out a couple before I had a proper idea of how to explain it.

The stories are mostly in interview format. I am open to having more narrative pieces involved as the issues progress. Aside from the interview content, Colby Keller is my art contributor. So he’ll be sending me work monthly, along with a narrative piece to correspond, or an explanation of how it came to be.

I also shot content in different cities, so it’s not just functioning as an LA magazine. For the first issue, I shot some content in New York and San Francisco, I also had submissions of street style from Seattle, New York and San Francisco.

TUX: That sounds awesome! Now, let’s move on to some underwear questions. I’m gonna go right there, what kind of underwear are you wearing right now?

Gabe: One of my friends here in LA owns a store called Dilascia’s, and I’m wearing a pair of his that’s technically one of a kind. They’re basically underwear that’s crafted out of old t-shirts and old polos.

TUX: How cool!

Gabe: Each pair is one of a kind; you can’t really copy them unless you recreate the shirt. I like the resourced and found aspect of it. So that’s what I’m wearing right now, and it’s actually an American flag—not an actual American flag but the American flag printed on a shirt. If I was wearing the American flag as underwear, I’m pretty sure that’d be illegal.

TUX: What’s the name of your friend’s store?

Gabe: The name of the store is DiLascia’s.

TUX: We’ll have to seek it out! What’s your favorite style of underwear?

Gabe: Briefs.

TUX: Why is that?

Gabe: A: I feel like it’s the most visually attractive, and because it’s the most fluid in terms of movement, no fuss no muss. The less amount of material the better. I’m also a runner, and I couldn’t wear any other kind of underwear, except maybe a compression brief.

TUX: So you like briefs when you’re running as opposed to specifically athletic underwear?

Gabe: Yes, for the most part. It actually really depends on the running shorts I’m wearing. If they have a lining, then I just won’t wear underwear because the compression underwear is already built in.

TUX: What kind of underwear do you find sexy on other guys, and the models that you shoot?

Gabe: There’s definitely a fetishism for jockstraps, but they’re pretty impractical in real life as far as daily use. I really feel that on the right model or guy, anything can look sexy, and it’s always more about the model or the man than the actual underwear. I feel like the underwear is the cherry on the sundae.

Just depending on a person’s aesthetic, I think they can lend themselves better to different styles.

TUX: Would you ever wear the same pair twice? Would you turn your underwear inside-out if you were really behind on laundry?

Gabe: Probably not, I’m kind of an odd germaphobe in that way. I’d probably just not wear underwear if it came to that. Or, I actually have separate underwear for those cases. For example, I’d probably wear a jockstrap because I have it, but it’s not like I wear them everyday.

TUX: So, you have a back-up supply of jockstraps for just that situation.

Gabe: [Laughs] Yeah, or promo underwear I have leftover from shoots that aren’t necessarily my everyday style, but on laundry day why not?

TUX: Underwear the models haven’t worn yet?

Gabe: Yes. I mean, I actually have worn underwear that the models have worn, but it has been in the wash.

TUX: Are you a fan of underwear parties?

Gabe: I’ve actually never been. I think I’m actually hopefully going later this summer to Daniel Nardicio’s party, because Will Wikle is a pretty good friend of mine and he’s in the first issue [of Type/Face].

TUX: So you’ll be going out to Fire Island?

Gabe: Hopefully, I’m still figuring out the logistics.

TUX: Well, they’re very fun and a little crazy. We were just there this last weekend and there were something like 700 people. It’s not an enormous venue, so it was definitely packed but a lot of fun.

Gabe: Yeah, I’ve heard stories that definitely left a lot for me to imagine.

TUX: What are you going to wear to your first underwear party??

Gabe: Since it’s my first one, I’d probably be more demure and wear a standard cut brief—nothing too wild. Although I’m kind of that person who will plan ahead and change my mind at the last minute. So I’ll probably bring a couple options, and maybe call my friend [who made the underwear I’m wearing today] and ask if he wants to make me something custom. That’d be rad.

TUX: Totally! Fortunately packing a bunch of underwear isn’t really a problem, so you can definitely bring options! Let’s talk about your photography. Can you tell us a bit about your aesthetic and your point of view, what you like to get across in your shoots?

Gabe: I have two very different styles. I do a lot of nightlife and events in LA, and sometimes I travel to New York, San Francisco, or Chicago for events—and that’s kind of fun, sexy party stuff that I have under a separate company called Rolling-Blackouts.

Anything editorial, portrait or fashion, I shoot in a very different manner and I always try to have some sort of narrative. After you shoot hot guy after hot guy, the hot guy pictures become kind of stale. While they’re really enjoyable, I want to give the audience a little bit more than that and stylize it a bit more. If I had a trademark, I think it would be a more stylized point of view.

TUX: So you’re more focused on telling a story and constructing a narrative with your shoots?

Gabe: Yeah, and it would even necessarily need to function in a series, I always like constructing a narrative within the image. It doesn’t necessarily need to be fully thought out and developed, but I like constructing something that you can have different people look at and they will read it differently.

TUX: Do you often tailor what that story is to the models in the shoot? You mentioned your upcoming shoot with Colby Keller that’s based on his interest in superheroes and comics.

Gabe: Yes, sometimes. If I’ve worked with people before or we’re good friends, then I definitely like to collaborate and I’m open to their ideas. But, I never go into a photo shoot having too defined a narrative or idea of what I’m doing. With all planning aside, life actually happens.

There’s this quote by Wolfgang Tillmans—and I’m probably going to butcher it—but it’s something along the lines of a photograph being like a contract between the photographer and the sitter—if both people don’t agree, then it doesn’t work. So you can go in and project all you want onto the model, but if they’re not on the same page or you don’t have that perfect moment then it just doesn’t work.

TUX: In addition to Type/Face, what are your upcoming projects?

Gabe: Aside from the magazine, I want to build Type/Face out to be a more all-encompassing brand. I work with a graphic designer and I’m talking to Will [Wikle] right now about doing some limited edition tanks. I also want to include more media and go more into music and video, like I had a DJ who I shot for the first issue do a mix for the issue. I have a lot of talented friends I want to give more exposure, and curate a more all-encompassing lifestyle brand.

To see and learn more about Gabe’s photography, visit gabeayalaphoto.com and rolling-blackouts.com.

Photo Credits: Gabe Ayala

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