We’ve had our eyes on this week’s hottie for some time! Gabriel Gastelum is a photographer and creator based in Los Angeles, but working anywhere the wind takes him. His works celebrate all iterations of life from models, musicians, actors, and beyond–but he is most known for his amazing work with drag performers. Don’t get me started on the major commercial campaigns! But he is most known for his amazing work with drag performers. Trixie Mattel, Paul Rudd, Shea Couleé, Big Dipper, Miz Cracker, Meatball, and Boomer Banks are just a few in the lineup of folks who have been photographed by Gastelum. Gabriel emboldens the world through his own lens, with character, sense of humor, and great lighting!
Earlier this year, we featured Gabriel as one of our 15 Queer People of Color to Follow in 2021, and if you do follow him, you know he does not disappoint with the daily celebration of life you get through his posts.
Gabriel, 36, also shows his ability to think creatively through his transformation into Gabriel the Queen, his drag persona. A “Bearded Puta” as he calls her, she serves colorful looks and a hairy mug for days. Gabriel’s platform elevates the queer experience, honors body positivity, and reminds us to find a little levity in this chaotic place and time.
But more than anything, Gabriel Gastelum is a gorgeous teddy bear who we love to see living his best Palm Springs life. It is Gabriel’s hilarious stories, thicc and thirsty content, and infectious smile that make him our Instinct Hottie of the Week. He’s a whole snack Latino papacito we all wanna grab a drink with!
Let’s get to know Gabriel Gastelum a little bit more:
INSTINCT: What drew you to photography?
GABRIEL GASTELUM: The ability to tell a wonderful story just from one capture
INSTINCT: How long have you been photographing professionally?
GG: I have been photographing now for almost 11 years. Crazzzzzyyyy.
INSTINCT: Who have been some of your favorite people to photograph?
GG: Well if you follow me you know I personally love to photograph Drag Queens. I just love how each drag artist transforms and brings out a whole new side of them. I also love to photograph dancers, the way they pose with their entire body is incredible in front of a lens. I spent a few weeks in a village in Odisha, India one year for a project where they were building these villagers a new school. Photographing the locals and children of the school still remains a highlight in my career to this day.
INSTINCT: Tell me about your drag persona? When did you start doing drag? What inspired you?
GG: My drag persona is pretty much similar to my regular persona. Except that when I am in drag I just feel way more confident. I’m not a particularly loud person, and I would say I am more introverted than extroverted, but that really changes when I’m in drag. I started dabbling in drag about four years ago and had my first performance about 3 years ago. The number one reason I started drag was because of heartbreak. I decided to channel my pain into something creative and voila! Gabriel The Queen.
INSTINCT: What’s something about you that most people wouldn’t know?
GG: I don’t ride motorcycles because one time in Laos, I was riding one, and my head went through the windshield of a car! Haha! Yay for helmets.
INSTINCT: What brings you joy?
GG: Traveling is what brings me the most joy. Seeing new places, meeting new people and trying new foods. I’m at 41 countries now and I only intend to make the number go higher and higher. Oh my two beautiful nieces. Oh and a good taco.
INSTINCT: What do you think is the most attractive part about yourself?
GG: I would say my passion for doing things I love and my ability to nap anywhere. A lot of people have told me I have a very easy-going personality. Being a photographer you meet all different kinds of people daily. I really think I enjoy the fact that I am able to get along with most everybody. Unless you steal my food.
INSTINCT: What do you find you are physically complimented on the most?
GG: My legs are the most complimented part of my body. I guess all those squats while photographing weddings did me well. Oh and my chest for sure.
INSTINCT: What, to you, defines sexy?
GG: To me, sexiness is really hard to just limit it to one definition. I love the spectrum of what sexiness can be. You can find an attitude sexy, or someone’s aura, certain physical traits or even the smallest of mannerisms sexy. Everyone is sexy in their own unique way and I think THAT is sexy.
INSTINCT: What is your proudest moment in your life thus far?
GG: Honestly? The fact that I was able to accomplish my dream of becoming a photographer. I was working at a law firm, ready to go to law school, when I quit my job, rejected my acceptances and bought a camera. And here I am. Still clicking away.
INSTINCT: What haven’t you accomplished, personally or professionally, that you are wanting to do in the next 2-3 years?
GG: I wanna hit 50 countries before I am 40. Only 9 more to go. Or 8? I already forgot. But I’m going to do it.
INSTINCT: Have you found love? If so, what is the best part of your relationship and what do you love most in your partner(s)? If not, what do you look for in the ideal relationship? Or are you not looking?
GG: I am currently happily single! I have found love in the past though, and I think the best part of each relationship is how much I’ve learned about myself from them. I really am not looking, but I am not opposed to the possibility. I don’t have an “ideal” relationship. I think having those kinds of expectations just closes yourself off to so many possibilities.I treasure my time and solitude and now I know it will take someone very special for them to receive my time. Giving your time is such a gift. Don’t waste it.
Rapid fire question time:
- What is your all-time favorite movie?
- The Fifth Element
- Who is your biggest celebrity crush?
- Michelle Yeoh. God damn she kicks ass
- What is your favorite cheat meal or snack?
- Literally any pasta
- If you were stuck on an island for eternity, what music album would you want to have with you?
- Carly Rae’s Emotion or Ricardo Arjona’s Sin Daños a Terceros
INSTINCT: What does it mean to be featured as our Instinct Hottie?
GG: Truly honored and flattered to be asked! Thank you so much!
INSTINCT: Anything else you’d like to share with the Instinct readers?
GG: Don’t forget that the first cardinal rule of perm maintenance is that you’re forbidden to wet your hair for at least 24 hours after getting a perm at the risk of deactivating the immonium thygocolate.
Check out Gabriel’s website for a full portfolio of work.