Thomas Knights is Red Hot – celebrating the sexiness of the ginger
Thomas Knights is the photographer behind the Red Hot calendars – showcasing the heat that red-head guys can generate.
We caught up with him to talk about life in the ginger lane.
When you started the Red Hot project in 2013, were you surprised at how positive the reaction was?
I did some research when I started Red Hot and realised that there had never been anything in the history of the world that showcased ginger men as sexy and desirable – or simply showcased them.
It was a brand new idea, so I knew it was going to have an impact. But it did surprise me how positive the reaction was, especially in the gay scene. I think it was because it’s fundamentally about a group of people who have been marginalised for their difference – and who were now celebrating that difference and having a moment in the spotlight. It’s an experience that correlates with the gay experience.
Was there some sense of vindication for you, as a red-head, that finally the world was acknowledging how hot red-head guys are?
Yes, 100 percent. One of my friends said to me – ‘You only made Red Hot so you can have more sex!’ It was meant to be a scandalous discovery but it was totally true. It was all about self-empowerment – for all gingers.
But, as an artist, it was incredibly exciting to have created something that became a social movement and really changed how people saw ginger guys – I saw the power of an idea.
Regardless of hair colour, gym-fit white guys aren’t a particularly marginalised part of our community. How does celebrating red-heads help to illustrate the importance of representation and diversity?
Redheads are the only white ‘other’ so labelling the discrimination they face is a really grey area. That’s why ‘gingerism’ – for want of a better word – has been allowed to continue for so long. It’s one of the last forms of acceptable discrimination out there.
Yes, they are all mostly white, but the simple fact is that ginger kids have a really tough time growing up in the UK and around the world. They are picked on relentlessly at school – ‘kick a ginger day’ is a real thing in some places, driving some children to take their own lives.
Red Hot focuses on sexy ginger guys, but our message is about the importance of owning your difference and being proud of who you are.
Has the style of the calendars been evolving over the years?
It’s become way more sexual and naked! This has been largely dictated by our audience, and sales of certain things that have instructed us over the years. It was way more innocent when we began. But now, we try to give the people what they want.
You generally cast your models through Instagram?
Instagram is so important for us to discover new talent and to communicate directly with the models. We hold an online casting and ask people to submit their pictures. We get hundreds, if not thousands of submissions for each casting – the job of going through them is lengthy but rewarding.