Before my phone call with him I was jealous of Matty Pipes. After all, his life is one spent scrolling through the stream of sexy photos emailed to him by hotties eager to be posted on his mouthwatering Instagram page @intoblackguys.. Right? Wrong. Drop all your assumptions about moodboard curators; every night isn't just another banger at a West Hollywood hotspot. No, he doesn't share a stylist with Bella Thorne, and although he’s a Los Angeles-ite, his days aren't filled with lunch dates with Erika Jayne from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. As a matter of fact, drop your assumption that his page is a moodboard at all. It turns out that Matty Pipes much prefers his house and eclectic sets of playlists to “THOTstravaganza’s in WeHo,” he’s got a passion for putting together killer looks all on his own, the Atlanta girls are much more his speed, and @intoblackguys is much more than a digital chocolate sampler box.

PM — I want to know about the incubation of @intoblackguys. On Instagram, on Tumblr—across all of these social media platforms—there are all of these moodboards centered around certain themes, but @intoblackguys seems to be a lot more needed, even purposeful. Tell me about the motivation behind it.

MP — The motivation behind @intoblackguys is two-fold. I started @intoblackguys about three years ago, but I’ve worked in digital media for quite some time—seven years—and I saw this trend of Instagram pages that were touting themselves as ‘the new standard in beauty and form,’ and I would follow; I would even try to get on some of them, and then realized that a lot of these pages just weren't featuring men of color—black men specifically—and it really disappointed me. Working in this space professionally, I recognized that Instagram and digital would be the new history of the world, and that everyone is trying to get in on this new history, and I didn't want black bodies to be erased from it.

On the other hand, I read an article (it’s the link in the bio of @intoblackguy’s page) about a black guy named Nelson who had a struggle with coming out. He went on a date with this white guy who told him: “I don't date black guys.” I felt for him; growing up and not having gay people around…not having black gay people around, not having that kind of brotherhood…feeling ostracized by your own community. I thought: “What could I do with my expertise in digital media to give a voice to people like him?” That’s when those two ideas merged and I decided to create a page that celebrated beautiful black men and name it @intoblackguys as a play on what that white kid said to Nelson.

Ten minutes in to our phone call and the jealousy falls away the same way that I’m sure your assumptions have. Hopefully you're discovering, the way i did, that this Instagram page is more of a historical document than a digital snack bar, and that Matty Pipes is a sharp shooter. As the our conversation turns to where he’s taking aim, that jealousy turns into a feeling of admiration.

PM — I’m obsessed! Tell me… What do you hope is the overall impact? I know you said you want to fold us into this new digital history, which I love by the way. I’ve often thought about this, but I’ve never heard anyone else articulate it quite that way. What’s your overall goal?

MP — When I first started, I just wanted to have a space to promote guys that I like, but as it’s evolved I’ve definitely set new goals for the page. When I first started the page #intoblackguys had only been used four or five times as a hashtag before.

PM — Really?

MP — Yeah. I use it on every single photo. That’s 2,611 times, but the hashtag has been used over 27,000 times since I started it. So that means that there are 24,000 other instances where people are feeling safe to hashtag #intoblackguys and have an internet conversation about what it means to be into black guys. It makes me feel as if a conversation has been started. It’s also sort of like a touchstone; when people see it they think about my page or about what it means… There is no shame in being into black guys.

Another goal is to help some of the guys I see on Instagram reshape the way they see themselves so that they can thrive even more in the digital landscape. Black men—we have such a need to look hard, to have this barrier of strength and masculinity and toughness, and we’re really fighting, sometimes, to feel vulnerable and be carefree. I really wanted to create a space where guys felt okay to show vulnerability in their imagery. I’ve definitely seen guys evolve… Three years ago, they were sending in all mirror-selfies from the gym, and now the images are more editorial. They're pulling back the camera and thinking of themselves as models, content, objects of desire… as beautiful men who don't have to hide behind this idea of what masculinity is, you know?
Fifteen minutes in and I’m starting to feel the weight of it all. If digital media is the new history, then managing a page like @intoblacguys is truly a scholarly endeavor. By rewriting the rules of what is beautiful you can rewrite history . Matty is making it clear that when we color outside the lines, it’s still beautiful.

MP — I like to post candid images that feel like real life… that are just a regular guy thriving. You know how you’ll watch The real Housewives of Atlanta… you never see them in the beauty shop, you never see them in the salon.

PM — Mhmm. That's so true.

MP — It’s the same thing with @intoblackguys. I don't want to post guys at the gym; we know you go to the gym, we get that, so show me something else. I want young men to look at the page and think “oh, that guy is just like me.” I think that it’s helped people who follow me understand that they can find beauty in their everyday lives and in the things around them. You don't have to be a supermodel to take a beautiful photo. I love seeing the guys who have evolved with the page.

The messaging of his page, the intentionality of his curation, and the sage Matty possesses when he speaks is, as I said admirable, but somewhere around the twenty-minute mark, the jealousy creeps back. I mean, all those chocolate action figures asking for his attention. I have to go there. I want to stay heady but… the chocolate!

PM — So, do you stay in touch with the boys? Do you check back? Do you ever get submissions from guys who have already been on the page? Going through, I don't see a ton of repeats…

MP — Yeah, I definitely get submissions and I definitely have my favorites, but I try not to post guys more than once in one week because I like for there to be variety. Also, if I post a guy too much my followers will be on me. I really want to make sure that I’m carefully curating and not just fangirling about some dude in Alabama. I want to show fit guys but I also want to show skinny guys, femme guys…the whole spectrum.

PM — Do you receive a lot of submissions or is the bulk of it searching?

MP — I get about 20 submissions a day.

PM — If the goal is to showcase femme guys, fat guys, and the lot, do you get those from submissions? Do you get submissions from all different body types?

MP — I don’t get submissions from all different body types but when I do get submissions from someone who is outside of what I regularly post, I definitely take them into consideration and I definitely encourage all types of black guys to submit images. I’m not the person who will get an image and reject it. If someone sends me a mirror selfie, well, I don't post mirror selfies, but I will go to their page and look through every single photo to try to find something that fits @intoblackguys because it’s not about me rejecting anyone.

PM — I find it so interesting that you mention how important it is for you to intentionally curate. Do you consider yourself an artist or more of a curator?

MP — Both. In terms of this page I definitely consider myself a curator. As you can see, I do three posts at a time—from three color to three black and white—just to keep it uniform. That's not random. It’s all very planned out. Not too many butts, not too many face shots, I want the triplet to match, and I want them to say something. I want there to be diversity. I want it to look like someone really is considering it. I hope people see that.

What’s a phone call with one of the girls without trade coming up? As we round the corner to thirsty I’ve gotta ask about straight boys.

PM — You’d mentioned earlier that one of your goals is to contribute to this conversation surrounding masculinity and its constraints. I don't want to make assumptions about people, but when I click on some of the guys tagged on your page, it seems like there are a good amount of straight boys on here. Where do you think this dialogue is headed in terms of black men and masculinity as it relates to sexuality, fluidity, intersectionality…the lot?

MP — My page has never been just for gay guys or straight guys; it’s for every black guy. The only thing that I ever tag on an image is #intoblackguys, and then tag the person featured. Obviously people speculate in the comments or they'll write me DM’s asking what I know about the guys, but at the end of the day—that's your business. I just like finding beautiful men to post and promote. Like I say in the profile bio: “Black Men can be anything they desire including beautiful.”

PM — I think your bio sums it up perfectly.

Join @intoblackguys and The Tenth @ CALI COD this Summer.