Wonderland.

Max Emerson

Enjoy a topless treat as we get to know YouTube favourite, Maxisms.

With a body to-die-for (and personality to match), a boyfriend who conjures up #RelationshipGoal vibes and a plethora of LOL-worthy online vids, there’s no questioning why star of social media, Max Emerson, has clocked up over half a million Instagram followers and a loyal 100k+ YouTube subscribers – all under his moniker, Maxisms.

Aside from being one of the most swooned-over men on Insta, he’s also got his head – and heart – in the right place. His latest project, a feature film entitled Hooked exploring homelessness within the gay community, seeks to raise funds for LGBT homeless shelters. The project was birthed after Emerson found himself at events, surrounded by charity CEO’s who rolled up in expensive cars and clad in premium attire.

As he prepares to tour the film at festivals across the globe, we grabbed a moment with meet Max to find out more about his life on and off the screen (all while he span playfully on his chair).

Can you tell us how you got into YouTubing?

Kicking and screaming! It started with Instagram, my agents kind of forced me into it so I treated it like a job and then I realised it was a platform I could use to raise funds for the projects that I write myself. I did a novel and then we ended up with all this extra money raised from the novel so we ended up making a web series with a drag Queen named Willam on how to become a male underpants supermodel, and it just kind of took off from there, so I just sort of started treating it how I do Instagram, where you just kind of put yourself on the schedule and post something every week. It doesn’t always have to be amazing it just has to be something, and it has really really paid off! Its always been a means for me to work towards… I hate to say this… but higher quality mediums, things with a little bit more permanence, because social media is something thats really ephemeral, something that people forget about 48 hours afters its out there. It’s not to say I don’t enjoy doing it, its just always been a means for creating more meaningful content.

And you do some modelling as well?

I went to school for acting and directing and writing, and then instead of waiting tables I got into modelling, luckily! And then social media came after that so I kind of had a head-start with all the social media stuff, being that my pictures were all over tumblr and such already! You could google about half a million shirtless pictures of me before I even joined Instagram. So it just seemed like a logical thing!

You’re currently working on your own film project Hooked, can you tell us a bit more about this?

Hooked is my second crowd funding project, the first one was a novel when I got to 50,000 followers and this one was a film about LGBT youth homelessness, which is a silent epidemic. For example, gay kids are 8 times more likely than their straight counterparts to be homeless, and then once they’re homeless they’re another 8 times more likely to suffer sexual and physical abuse. The point of this project is to raise awareness about the cause but for me that feels like an empty platitude so we’re donating half of the profits of the film directly to shelters that are helping, which includes London’s Albert Kennedy Trust, New York’s Ali Forney Centre, the LA LGBT Centre and Lost and Found in Atlanta. Every screening we do, the goal is to have each screening as a fundraiser for community shelters, so if you go to Ohio, and they don’t have an LGBT youth shelter, we will work with a regular shelter with the requirement that they undergo the training so they know how to accommodate LGBT kids.

The real problem with these shelters is trans kids, they really get abused in traditional shelters so the thing that NY’s Ali Forney does, is they go around and they teach other shelters about how to be accommodating and how to keep these kids safe, specifically trans kids but it really is for everyone!

That sounds really interesting! What was it that really made you want to explore this subject in particular?

It’s my usual process, something pisses me off! The project idea in itself came from attending so many charities and parties whether it was working as a caterer in college or attending as a guest, as a model, I just see so many charities where their goal is to raise awareness but in reality the organiser of the charity buys a new Porsche, and it just really started to get to me!

I find that my audience is the LGBT community and so I made some films in college and screened them, had an awesome party because it was Miami and an open bar and like 700 people showed up to this beautiful venue but the message of the film was really not for gay people, it was more for everyone and it was essentially preaching to the converted.

So the message of this film is more directed at the gay community, it’s a story illustrating how we are somewhat cannibalising ourselves in our reckless pursuit of self satisfaction. The moral of the story is that we need to start taking better care of each other, and stop just using each other so that was the inspiration for writing it. I wrote it seven years ago, at this point before I even started modelling. I’ve written tonnes of things, its just that I meet with producers and they say ‘oh that’s great, but do you have anything that not LGBT that I can sell, also do you want to go on a date?’

All clothing RON DORFF

You’re not shy about getting your kit off on camera, do you think it’s important for people to be body confident?

I think its a double edged sword, I know very much that it’s a necessary evil and a kind of pre-requisite in social media land, it’s not going to make you or break you, if you have something to say you can still get by, you can have your tits out in every picture and not get a following! I just think its fun, I just think its funny, I didn’t want to join social media, like I didn’t want to do Instagram, all of my model buddies were just being total whores all the time like ‘lets take a selfie make sure you tag me in it and I want to be on the left because that what people click first!’ It just felt very narcissistic and mastabatory so when my agency told me to join Instagram I vowed to be the most narcissistic and mastabatory, so I kind of like created this character who was the ultimate super douche, it was just super shameless all the time, I would have competitions with my friends to see who could be the most shameless and it just kept spiralling and got crazier and crazier and it really surprised me that people actually got the joke, not everyone of course, but that’s really where it started, where the initial following came from. Then, when it got to like 100,000, quarter of a million followers I realised I’m not a character, I’m not a drag queen, I cant fake date people and say whatever the hell I want, I do have to have a social conscience and be politically correct, not constantly lie about my life because there are too many people out there who are actually looking up to the shirtless monkey they see on the screen the whole time! So there was this weird transition where I realised people are getting really offended, they’re taking this seriously, I should probably be real now. So, there’s still a bit of the super douche there but for the most part it’s kind of just like a daily journal which has been fun!

We had a look through some of the comments on those pictures, and it’s fair to say that you’re a focus of desire for a lot of people, how do you handle that kind of attention?

I find it funny, because it’s not real! I used to use dating apps before I found my boyfriend, and I would meet people and be like, ‘I don’t know anything about you, like I know we chatted but its all the same thing and I don’t know if any of that’s real’. Like I am currently on dating apps in 12 different countries because people are using my pictures, I just don’t think anythings real, like if you look at the before and afters of photoshop and face tune and everything people are using its not who you are its who you’re telling everyone you are, so I’ve never really taken it that seriously, and there are so many people who just want attention. I just think of it as a game. It’s important to not let it go to your head. With my boyfriend, I talk to him about it a lot because he went from like 1200 followers to 100,000 the next week and I’ve seen his use of the apps go up much more and the way he photoshops and the types of pictures he posts, and I kind of have to remind him ‘don’t change who you are just keep doing what you were doing. That is why I dated you that, why I liked you, I don’t want to date me!’ It’s very Pavlov’s Dogs, as much as you say its not real you see 20,000 likes on a picture and you like that, and you want to maintain that but there’s a line between doing what you want and what you like and doing it for the approval and validation and likes so I think you’ve got to find ways to disconnect from it and remember what is real.

What is the strangest encounter you’ve had with a fan?

I don’t know if they’d be called a fan but I was at the gym and I was leaving the locker room and someone Instagram direct messaged me a picture of myself getting changed in the locker room asking if it was me!

That’s kind of intense!

Yeah its like, next time say hi! You can say hi in a locker room it’s not a big deal!

Tell us, what are you hoping to achieve in the long run?

I would like to continue to create projects with my production company on larger and larger scales and budgets, whether I’m writing them, acting [in] them or directing them, depends on the project, but that’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do!

I made films in college for $500 and then I made short films for a couple of grand and now I’m making this film for $150k and my next one I’d like to make with half a million or $750k, so I’d like to keep on this scale, ideally I’d like to not have to crowdsource after this next one, but you know, you do what you can!

Finally, what other projects do you have lined up that you can tell us about?

We’re premiering my film Hooked in New York City at New Fest on 26th June. We have other screenings coming up in London, hopefully at the end of the summer. I can’t really talk about the other ones at the minute because they’re not totally confirmed yet but we have a web series about an Instagrammer which is about finding authenticity and taking control of your own life and being true to yourself. We’re doing another web series where my boyfriend and I practice being dads by telling our version of bed time stories to various proxy babies as drag queens and comedians and models re-enact the stories in front of a green screen, sort of like a drunk history, queen fairytales, like cinder-fella and the little mer-person and things like that!

We can’t wait! Thanks Max.

All clothing RON DORFF

All clothing available at the Wonderland pop-up shop, 192 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9ET

Photography
Sebastian Ayala @naitian
Fashion
Kamran Rajput
Words
Ryan Cahill
Grooming
Jess Mejia @ STELLA CREATIVE ARTISTS
Thanks to
Camberwell Film Studios
Max Emerson

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