• Green's leader Richard Di Natale is the latest politician to grace the pages of GQ. But what makes lifestyle mags crave political features? (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Richard Di Natale is the latest in a long line of politicians to show there’s more to them than party room policies. What’s the appeal of political leaders appearing in lifestyle mags?
By
Shami Sivasubramanian

14 Mar 2016 - 4:39 PM  UPDATED 15 Mar 2016 - 8:57 AM

GQ magazine might be known for its preppy fashion and executive style, but from time to time, the popular men's monthly delves into the world of politics.

But how does politics even figure in a glossy editorial like GQ?

And what's the appeal for a serious politico to even want to do a trendy fashion shoot? And furthermore, for someone to want to read it?

“A man looks for inspiration and information in their magazine," says GQ editor Matthew Drummond. "Yes [GQ] talks about cars and fashion, but it also includes long-form journalism. Ultimately it equips its readers with what’s going on in Australia.”

This month, GQ Australia features Greens leader, Richard Di Natale in it's GQ&A segment. The segment is posed as a profiling piece, and an opportunity to delve deeper into a the featured talent's inner thoughts.  

"He was a perfect gentleman. He opened a couple of Coopers Sparkling Green, of course. And served salami from pigs reared on his farm," says Drummond, who conducted the interview with Richard Di Natale.

“I started to think about him at the start of this year,” says Drummond, referring to the moment Di Natale shared he didn't have a problem with genetically-modified foods, a radical stance for a Greens politician to take and one Di Natale faced media backlash for.

Drummond also saw the politician as an interesting subject for the GQ&A segment in comparison to his predecessor, Christine Milne, who wasn't as willing to cross the floor on certain issues. So far the Greens leader has made headway on a few issues by forming deals with the major parties on issues like pension cuts and corporate taxes.

“He struck me as a guy who could take a few bruises to take the Greens in a new direction, which I think is towards the middle ground of politics,” says Drummond.

 

For Drummond, this issue will be his first since being appointed editor of the magazine. But he hopes to see more politics being covered within GQ's pages over his tenure. 

He also sees the style magazine as a natural home for that kind of political discussion, saying men's magazines, in fact, have a long history of producing long-form political and opinion pieces.

“The old joke goes, 'I read Playboy for the articles'. But Playboy actually produced great pieces of long-form journalism and some of the best in the country. That’s what we do in GQ,” he says.

 
This isn't the first time GQ Australia has featured politicians.

Most famously, then-Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull graced the magazine's cover back in May 2015 with the button-pushing caption "Primed Minister".

"It says something about these politicians to allow themselves to be presented like that and let themselves look their best,” Drummond says. “They have themselves styled for the shoot, present in a light you’ve never seen them in before."

Malcolm Turnbull's cover was the source of several snide comments following his cover, with several teasing him for looking "like a model".

 

Di Natale wasn't immune to jokes following his spread either, with people comparing his black turtleneck-look to The Wiggles and Steve Jobs amongst others.

But in spite of the haters, Drummond says the Greens leader's look is "so hot right now".

“Turtle necks are absolutely hot right now! Especially in the northern hemisphere at the moment. So we can expect to see them everywhere this winter. On that measure, Di Natale is ahead of the curve!” he says, laughing.

 

Drummond explained how the draw for Australian politicians to feature in GQ, specifically, comes from the unique ways in which the magazine broaches the subject.

Ultimately, GQ finds their view of politics comes from a pop culture perspective and how politics can influence a person's lifestyle.

For example, when speaking to Di Natale, Drummond made a point to ask about the Greens leader's long rumoured plans to form a coalition government with a major party - a decision that would impact all Australians.

“I asked him if he sees himself in government with Labor?" says Drummond, recounting his interview.

"He said ‘a government’.

“So I asked ‘Do you see yourself in government with Liberals?’

“He said, ‘Never say never.’

“The nuance of what he said was he doesn’t want to rule himself out with the Liberals. Since he doesn't think it's very smart to close yourself off like that," says Drummond, commenting on how novel a stance it is to have for a Greens leader.

 

Drummond believes politics definitely does have a place in lifestyle journalism.

Not just as a front for a politician to appear more accessible, but as a legitimate source for discussion on issues that affect all Australians.

But when giving thoughts on who he'd feature from parliament in the magazine next, Drummond had this to say:

"I’d definitely like to do a bit more politics in GQ, from the viewpoint of profiling the people who are changing the country, but I can’t say who we’d put in the magazine just yet.”

 
Before Di Natale, check out the other Australian politicians to grace the shiny pages of GQ Australia.

 

Malcolm Turnbull, May 2015.

 

 
Kevin Rudd in GQ&A, September 2015.

 

Julie Bishop in GQ&A, February 2016.