In recent times (the last two issues) I’ve been very critical of FRONT magazine and it’s content. It’s something I don’t enjoy when I’m reviewing a magazine I buy religiously, but I feel it necessary to pull them up when I think output is shoddy. Equally, I feel it’s very important to sing the magazine’s praises when they do something awesome. Issue 176 is that something awesome, and goes some way to restoring my faith in the publication.
There’s a lot to cheer about in this Christmas issue, so I’m gonna jump straight in. First of all the cover, featuring Nicole Neal. I love, love, love the pristine white background and masthead chosen for this particular issue, echoed in Nicole’s white shoes, socks and hat. It’s Christmassy, it evokes thoughts of a white Christmas, and it works! The gold highlights play on the Christmas theme as well, and the whole cover bludgeons you with festive cheer. Nicole’s positional choice is inspired also. It’s never advisable to turn your back on the audience in a cover shot, but this half turn and peer over the shoulder works great. Curled in a ball with her knees under the chin suggests someone sheltering from the winter cold (and with not much clothing on, someone poorly attired for the season). There isn’t a flattering way of typing this, but it’s meant with positivity… The splay of her buttocks against the hard surface she’s sitting on is wonderful. Nicole is such a breath of fresh air with this breezy colour scheme and underlying Christmasness, I don’t even mind the ma-hoosive hat she’s got on (usually a pet peeve of mine with FRONT features). I wasn’t that aware of Nicole’s work prior to this issue, but there’s something about her cover shot that excited me, and drew me in. Which hasn’t been the case in many recent FRONT first pages.
Moving inside, and I have to mention the limited edition Alt Girl cover that FRONT are selling in their shop. It’s advertised on the welcome page, and looks immense! Featuring all the ladies from the Alt Girl party special (which I’ll spend the majority of this review drooling over later) wearing not a stitch. They say there’s only 200 available, which I would assume means they’re all gone by now. I hope FRONT gets some more done though, I don’t see why they wouldn’t, I’ll definitely be getting one when I get my arse in gear. It’s the perfect gift for Christmas and there’s going to be a clamour for them… why limit the extra revenue stream to just 200? They’ve probably already thought about this, but get that image on a poster and they’d fly off the virtual shelves. Sort it out FRONT bean counters (by that I mean money men, to avoid filthy confusion).
This month’s Full Frontal has been used to flog a new Suicide Girls book. I’m usually all over FRONT when they use one of the three shoots to sell something, but I can forgive them for this, seeing as the Suicide Girls are fantastic. To advertise the book they’ve chosen well, picking the very elegant Leon Suicide. Her image on page 16 is my absolute favourite. Leon is ravishing in heels and knee high socks, clasping her hands in an innocent praying position, next to an angelic face. We get a glimpse of the artwork on the back of her thigh, and the whole image is serenely sensual. On that same page there’s a tiny interview with Missy, the Suicide Girls co-founder. I’ve been trying to get this lady on my blog for ever, and from the minute interview FRONT managed, it seems tough to get this busy bee involved with anything non-SG. On SG and FRONT though, I think a union between the two is long overdue. Many FRONT models are already Suicide Girls, or that route is a natural progression from FRONT. Surely a relationship between the two houses of hornyness could be created, to share models and mayhem between two companies bound by Alt appreciation. But that’s another conversation for another time…
Forgive my rush to get to the Alt Girl party feature, but surely you can’t blame me if you’ve seen it. Things of note along the way though are: 1) The Todd McFarlane comic feature 2) The Harry Potter boxset bit. Not for the Potterness, but purely because I love the look of the case it comes in. I want that for my pens and envelopes etc 3) Olly Moss’ silhouette art book looks fun 4) Zach Shuta’s artist profile 5) I also like the ZombiU “she’s got a body to die for” double ad.
Page 54 = the Alt Girl party special feature! Double the length and five times the awesomeness of a regular Alt Girl shoot. My head didn’t actually explode when I came across this, but it was bloody close. Starring: Rebecca, Bella, Abbie Mac, Chelsea and Keshia, this is inspired work form the decision makers at FRONT, and an awesome Christmas gift for loyal readers. It’s hard to know where to start when talking about this shoot, but I’m gonna dive right in. First of all, special mention as always to photographer Gemma Edwards. I always praise this ladies work, and with good reason. FRONT seems to be settled with Gemma as the Alt Girl photog now, and that’s a terrific decision. She captures the girls wonderfully well, with a tone and spirit that is quintessentially FRONT. That’s what you get when you hire a FRONT fan to work on FRONT magazine. Hint, hint FRONT HR department, come get me in 2013…
We begin the set with Chelsea, one of my personal highlights from the Alt Girl section this year. I had the pleasure of interviewing her for this blog a few months ago, and she’s such a cool lady. Her picture is a fantastic way to kick off this feature, after her beautiful eyes my attention was drawn to her perfect bottom, and just above that her splendidly curved lower back. There are some great choices in this shot; the look over the shoulder, the thumb pulling down her undies to reveal a perfect posterior. Epic!
Page 55 sees Rebecca and Keshia playing a bit of hide and seek under the bed, and beginning their respective stripteases. It’s wonderful to see Keshia back in the mag; I remember her feature with Mel Clarke a few issues back, where I commented on what seemed like a passing of the torch between the two models. If this feature is a glimpse into the kind of girls that will lead FRONT forward, then I’m excited about the future. I hope the insanely positive reaction to this Alt Girl special will finally give FRONT the courage to put more faith in their Alt Girls as featured models.
Page 57 sees Abbie Mac’s introduction to the piece. I’m a massive Abbie fan; she’s made some incredible choices in her modelling life, and has produced some awesome shots along the way. I rhapsodise about every FRONT appearance she makes, and it’s always yet another example of her versatility as a model. Pairing her with Chelsea on this page was another master stroke. The two play off one another very well, and the final image of 57 is immense, with the two mirroring each another in both pose and gaze. Sublime symmetry, and a shot I’d hang on my wall any day of the week.
On 58 Bella gets to show off. As with most ensemble shoots, there are some models that might not get as much coverage. Bella seemed to be in that position slightly, with the shots she’s in not always showing her face. However, in the shots where she is the focus, she rocks it. I like the picture with Keshia on 58 where Bella gets a heart drawn on her bottom. It those kind of pictures that highlight the fun that must have been had on set. Another example of on set camaraderie is visible on 59, with the gang together on the sofa chatting, while Keshia sneaks a peek over her shoulder to camera. I love the voyeuristic feel to this shot, like we’re privy to the most awesome secret society meeting ever!
On 60 and 61 the set comes to a close with a line up of buttocks. The girls stand side by side, revealing their bums in unison. I would have liked them all to be looking over their shoulders to camera, just a final show of unity from what was a stellar set. But it’s still a great picture; with Abbie’s sultry stare, Rebecca’s nonchalant bottle of booze, and Keshia seemingly checking out Abbie’s arse, all quaint and positive notes on which to leave the party.
It’s very hard for the DIY section to follow such an epic Alt Girl feature, but it starts very well with Zoe Sutherland getting top billing in the section. I mentioned that I was a little embarrassed for FRONT last month, as having Zoe only in the DIY section represented a massive oversight on their part. She should be featuring regularly in the mag as an Alt Girl or in the Full Frontal section. But it seems others had a similar reaction, and “back by popular demand” is a good thing to read. I really hope I get to see her working with FRONT in a more official capacity in 2013.
Other ladies of note form the DIY section include; the magnificent Bon Bon on page 63, she looks so effortlessly cool, and I’d love to see what she might do given a proper shoot. I’d also love to know more about this lady, and will endeavour to do so. If anyone reading this can help, then I implore you to do so. Georgia Elizabeth and Izzy McKenzie definitely fit the FRONT bill, petit and very pretty. I’d also like to have seen bigger shots of Manuela, another very interesting looking contributor.
As mentioned, this month’s featured shoot with Nicole Neal is the first main shoot I’ve been interested in for a few issues. If the Alt Girl feature hadn’t been so incredible, it may have had a chance at overshadowing that most divine of sections. Still, Nicole really impressed in her solo feature debut. Her first shot on 83 is wonderful for many reasons. I love that she’s on tippy-toes, I love the skirty/tutu-ish thing she’s wearing, and I love the outline of her breast against the light through the door. But I particularly love the look she’s giving to camera over her shoulder. A crooked smile that seems to say “you’re going to enjoy what’s coming. “ And she’s right about that.
Pages 84 and 85 bring an array of wonderful pictures that range from the sheer beauty on 84, to the sublime artistry on 85. I’m not sure who the photographer is on this set, but she or he has worked wonders on 85. Nothing overtly sexual, the abstract nature of the images just sings, and the light and angles are perfection.
On 86 we get a glimpse of the ballet and dance background that the piece keeps harking back to. A stretch in front of the mirror is utilised very well to showcase Nicole’s elegant figure, as well as the poise her dancing has given her. On 87 a light emblazoned Nicole reclines against the wall, her perfect bottom and breasts a feature, but not detracting from a very well thought through expression and look to camera. A double page spread on 88 ad 89 hints again at an arty penchant from the photographer. One breast depicted in dappled lace is a unique image, and one that is a welcome change from FRONT’s propensity for a gratuitous and anonymous boob shot.
The great shots continue, as do the demonstrations of Nicole’s flexibility. On 90 we see a quite unfathomable pose being adopted, with Nicole extending her legs vertically and balancing on one spot. The wide grin on her face does let slip the effort it must have taken to adopt the pose, but it’s impressive none the less. 91 sees a very different Nicole, with her hair pulled back against white light from behind, her pouty lips and slender neck are highlighted. It’s a very soft and beauteous picture.
The double page spread on 92 and 93 heralds the customary FRONT “model on the floor” shot. Again Nicole’s luscious lips are a focus as the sun casts shadows about them; it’s a stock FRONT style picture I must admit. The final two images also embody the FRONT style, but in a much more pleasant way. Nicole on the counter with cereal is the very epitome of FRONT petit cuteness. One eye covered with her hair, legs together, with one coyly raised to cover her v-jayjay. I really like the placement of the hand on the counter here, it’s a solid picture. Lastly, page 95 gives us Nicole’s best impression of Cameron Diaz. Just my opinion, but I thought there was a striking resemblance. Either way, you can’t beat an over the shoulder look to camera coupled with a double handed self-arse-grab.
This review is a bit of an essay I must admit, but with good reason. Thankfully I haven’t been complaining about FRONT’s decisions this month, instead I’ve been extolling the virtues of an issue I thoroughly enjoyed. Hopefully for anyone that thinks I’m just down on FRONT, this review will demonstrate how much I long for the magazine to be awesome again. When they do it right, I’m gonna praise them to the hilt, so that they may learn what I and many other readers love about the publication. It’s been one of the best issues in a while in my opinion, and as always, these are just my views. It’s marvellous to leave 2012 with a bang in terms of FRONT output. It’s been a rocky twelve months, but I hope my reviews have been entertaining to readers, but also helpful to similarly frustrated voiceless FRONT readers. As well as giving anyone that reads my blog over at FRONT towers, a constructive view of what their customers are looking for/wanting. Essay over.