4 min

It’sabout ABBA

Matthew Lester's spiritual ways

BOYS AND BEAUTY. Matthew Lester lives his life for ABBA- Arts, Beauty, Boys and Alchemy. Credit: Kevin Teneycke

In a world of distractions and negativity, Matthew Lester remains in control and grounded and producing lots of fantastic art. This handsome young fella is going for the gold and if that means he has to make it from stones he is ready to do so. We chat about art, reincarnation and ABBA over beer at a Davie Street pub during a wet winter evening.

Michael Venus: So your work is art and a lot of your art is work-which is way cool. Let us all in on it.

Matthew Lester: I’ve been doing photography, graphic arts, and lighting. The photography is mostly of musicians, models and actors. I moved here as a budding fashion photographer but realized that wasn’t really happening in the city. So I ended up being a graphic artist and that’s what I am doing now. I’ve been doing graphic art within the music industry, movie industry and local photo based artists; it’s great! I have worked for over seven years in this industry with the coolest lab in Kitsilano, but I work in the back so if you came in with a gun, you wouldn’t find me.

MV: You do a lot of post-production work or shall we say computer plastic surgery. How or where did you learn all that?

ML: In Ontario I took a year of fine art in college and found it to be too broad a spectrum. I wanted to narrow it down a bit so I took another two years of photography and got my photography diploma. I then stayed for a third year and took an advanced class and it was great because it taught Photoshop, Illustrator and so on and so that is where I got my basis for graphic art. After that, I started shooting for the hair industry, doing lots of stuff for hair stylists, and local actors and models in London, Ontario. I liked it. Then I thought I would go for the gold in either Toronto or Vancouver and I liked the climate here when I came to stay for a week, so Vancouver was my choice.

And maybe snag a boyfriend with an accent and a little foreskin, which never hurt anyone.

MV: Does being gay sort of give you the aesthetic edge that benefits your palette?

ML: Definitely. I have always thought about what it would be like to have a straight twin because ever since I was a young child I have liked the effeminate things in terms of art, colours. The yin energy of colour-like blues and pinks and softer colours. In art classes, I could draw and paint easily. I am in touch with my male and female side, although I think my soul is effeminate because I am more comfortable with the feminine things in life. I think we are all masculine and feminine. I think everyone’s soul is either one or the other.

MV: Are you a very spiritual person?

ML: I’m quite spiritual, actually; more spiritual, I would say, than the average gay man. I am not religious, but I am spiritual.

MV: You don’t believe in corporate and structured religion?

ML: That’s right: go to church, give your money, we’ll make the gold church and you can praise it. No, my beliefs are closer to the following of Deepak Chopra. He is an endocrinologist who is from India and as a doctor he started realizing that your body is basically a product of your thoughts; what you think will create your body and your reality. I believe in the afterlife and completely in reincarnation. I remember being four years old and wondering how can I have so much experience at four, thinking things I was thinking with such limited lifespan. I had memories of experiences from somewhere else or before.

MV: I heard something about your fascination with ABBA? Not the musical sensation but your mantra, so to speak.

ML: ABBA is Arts, Beauty, Boys and Alchemy-which we’re talking about. The arts are one of the core things in my life, boys of course because I’m gay and I love boys, they’re an inspiration. I do paintings and photo shoots of boys just because I was inspired. Beauty, I am really into health and taking care of yourself and understanding how your body works and how you can sort of create longevity for your body. Also beauty like skin care, and trying to appear young. And alchemy which is the old-age fact from medieval times that studies the ability to change materials into something of value like gold. So it’s kind of along the lines of the mysticism in the fact you can change your experience in life to be a positive one and not a negative thing. You can change your life; it’s all about perception. Out of negative things grow positive things.

MV: Let’s be a little bit dirty. For starters: what is it that you like doing with boys?

ML: I like to fall in love with them, and I do that very easily. I do; it’s awful. I love to be laying on top of a boy on the couch, peeling back each other’s clothes and totally fooling around with him until the couch is full of sweat stuff ( giggles).

MV: What else?

ML: I would have to say I am more of a top, although there are a few boys who would disagree.

MV: So you are a feminine top (we both giggle). What is your motivation, or shall I say drive, to soar through life?

ML: I really like living. Sometimes materialism can get to you and you can sort of get caught up in that but it’s not really about that; it’s about experiencing things and learning from your relationships with people and I think that’s really about what life’s about. It’s not what you accumulate, it’s about how you treat people and how people treat you and what sort of circle of friends and family you have created.

MV: Any people who have inspired your work and ideology?

ML: If we are talking about photographers, the late Herb Ritts is a genius. I like Bruce Weber; his work, of course, is all male oriented. Greg Florial who is a huge fashion photographer turned video art director who is from Canada. In music, Madonna, of course, Culture Club. I love retro. I also love Montreal-based DJ Tiga.

MV: What about the future?

ML:I see myself in Europe. I see myself one day in the Old World. I could do so many things where I could fit in there.

MV: And finally: you have braces. What about that?

ML: It’s sort of about empowerment. I can afford to take care of myself and at this age, with the confidence to pull it off, and it’s a great fashion statement.