Tristan Rodgers is the creator and editor of MC1R, the magazine for redheads.
Where did the idea to create MC1R (the “ginger gene”) magazine come from?
In 2013 I was studying media technology in Hamburg and working for the university as a photography tutor. One night I was out with some friends in the Reeperbahn and at 3am we found ourselves at Parzelle bar. At some point we realised we were the only five people left and all happened to be redheads. One out of the group told me I should make some portrait photos of our group. Suddenly the series snowballed and during the shoots, I heard a lot of stories about being a redhead – growing up, the effects of recognition and self esteem. With all this content I was unsure how to present it, so I first thought about some kind of online project page – but there was too much content so the first idea of a print project came up. As an absolute beginner, I needed some support from friends, which I happily got and also with a crowd funding page I realized the first issue of MC1R.
Can you tell us about some of the interviews and projects which have emerged over the several years and editions of MC1R?
I enjoyed the latest interviews with inspiring people like Joel Meyerowitz, who celebrated 30th anniversary of his book Redheads last year and also influenced MC1R in its progress as a coffee table magazine about redheads.
Also, the redhead gatherings between 2017 and 2019 created a lot of learnings for myself and how to handle the community and more recently the creation of a design edition sunscreen.
Tell us about the sunscreen project and how it came about?
It was always a dream for me to create a MC1R sunscreen, especially when I started the ‘Sunscreen Club’ in 2016 with issue 5. I pitched the idea of a limited edition sunscreen with so many brands over the years. Then a friend told me in 2021 that there is this new sustainable brand called SUNS CARE. I was super interested in meeting the people and it turned out that their office was 500m away from my home. So, we met and had the same idea, values, vision and expectations about a cooperation. The plan is, of course, also to bring some attention to sun protection – especially as a redhead skin cancer is a big topic that needs awareness.
You also talk to Swedish erotic film director, screenwriter and producer Erika Lust about redheads in porn. How did this come about?
Erika and I met 2016 in Berlin and talked about possible cooperations. After two years of explorations, I created a short film concept with the redhead director Ricarda Brieden, who is responsible for our first short movie (you can see it on YouTube). I met Erika again in Hamburg at the Affenfaust Gallery in 2018 (I’d recommend you to go there) to discuss the idea. From that point we had the final detailed concept and started casting for redhead actors.
This was super tough, as we never found a second protagonist for the realization of our short movie. We are still on this, so let’s see. We’ll start a casting with our readers soon, so maybe there is the chance to bring the community in again!
Ireland is, obviously, home to many redheads. I believe you have attended the Redhead Convention here. Any hot takes on the power and appeal of the Irish redhead?
I’m also Irish and love every county of Ireland, so I think the power of it being a strong community is across the country – also within the redhead community it felt more special in Crosshaven, when Joleen Cronin organized the Redhead Conventions. I will never forget these events, as they were the most special redhead gatherings for me!
Your latest issue has a new designer at the helm too – can you tell us about the changes Marcel Häusler has made to the magazine?
I’m a big fan of Marcel’s work and we are colleagues at the creative agency Karl Anders in Hamburg. I knew his talent with layout design. I was always a fan of Max Weinland’s work and never wanted to break with what he created for MC1R – which was a big part of the success for this indie magazine project – so it was great so see how Marcel used this base and made his own interpretation of the issues which were published, creating a better version for all of us.
What has been the most challenging aspect of the magazine as it has evolved?
The financial part is super super tough. You can’t earn money with an indie magazine like this, but the people always expect high quality and cheap content. As I mentioned, I’m working for an agency and most of my money is going into paying bills of MC1R. It would never be possible without my fiancée who is supporting me a lot. As I try to create great memories for the redhead community and as I push the community to be stronger and stronger, I spend a lot of my life with this project, but I also need the support back from people as everybody around me creating the magazine, merchandise and sunscreen needs to get paid somehow. So, if someone buys a copy, a cap or sunscreen, it supports me paying the people who are creating all the things we publish and also all my bills.
Have you noticed subscriber and loyalty growth over time? What do you consider your competition to be? How significant has the social media aspect of promoting your product become?
Social media and press work is essential for the survival of MC1R. Without people talking about MC1R it would have been already time to quit this project. But I’m happy that this happens and I’m happy that the redhead community supports the project online and also it’s great that the people behind the news platforms are interested in talking about what I’m doing over here.
Can you tell us a bit about your ‘day job’ work in Brand Design at Karl Anders?
I’m working at Karl Anders since 2019 as a project manager and digital strategist. We have great brands from all over Germany, but I’m mostly responsible for projects in local public transport. But there will be a change soon, from September on I’ll work for Google and I’m already very excited about that!
Is there social stigma still attached to being a redhead in German society or elsewhere which you are aware of?
Yes, of course, and I’m trying to change this with MC1R. The first one is, ‘you must have been bullied at school’ and the second is that ‘you must be a cuckoo child if your parents are not redheads.’ It’s super annoying as it’s always the first reaction when talking about these topics with someone for the first time.
Do you find yourself personally more attracted to redheads? 🙂
What magazines and concepts have excited you most of late?
I’m always a big fan by the work of Uwe Bermeitinger who is responsible for print projects like Tissue Magazine and Stigma 420. He always had a great influence on my work from the beginning of MC1R in 2013/2014. If you look closer into what I’m doing with MC1R – you can find Uwe’s influence everywhere.
What is culturally exciting in Hamburg at the moment? Any top tips for curious visitors?
I’m a big fan of the cool galleries like MOM Art Space, Deichtorhallen and Affenfaust Gallery. If you are going to see some cool people in Hamburg check out bars like Thier and PALLAS in the Sternschanze or cool online stores like The Internet Shop and Habibi You Know for pop-up events. For dancing and nice music the Frappant, PAL or Golden Poodle. A hidden top tip is the HfbK opening party for the student semester exhibitions – it’s twice a year and worth every minute – it doesn’t matter what age you are and what kind of background you have, everybody is welcome and with 3000 – 4000 interested guests with over 70 rooms full of different small exhibitions, cheap drinks, great music and food over five floors you can have the best time.
MC1R #7 is out now, €15.90