Student Magazine Puts ‘Queer Spin’ on Iconic Rolling Stone Cover

A student news outlet in New Zealand recently snagged some press for putting “a queer spin” on one of the most iconic magazine covers of all time.

The famous portrait of a nude John Lennon snuggling almost baby-like with his controversial paramour Yoko Ono appeared on the cover of a January 1981 Rolling Stone issue dedicated to the former Beatles star. As the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) notes, “The image was photographed by renowned celebrity portraitist Annie Leibovitz mere hours before Lennon was shot on December 8, 1980.” In 2005, the ASME selected it as the top magazine cover published over the past 40 years.


Late last month, Critic Te Arohi at the University of Otago ran a pair of covers designed to reimagine the Rolling Stone shot and simultaneously “challenge perceptions about sexuality.” Both covers appear at the start of the magazine’s sex issue. They display student models posing much like Lennon and Ono — one featuring a mixed gender couple and the other two young men. A screenshot of the latter is below. (I’ve covered the slightly more exposed bum — click here or on the image to see the uncensored cover.)


As the mag’s editor Sam McChesney tells The New Zealand Herald, “We went with the two guys as well as the guy and the girl to raise awareness of heteronormativity and try and challenge that perception a little bit.”

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