Dutch pinball invasion, part 1
Pavlov Pinball meets Pinball Magazine's Jonathan Joosten
Consider this: The Netherlands is a very flat country. And this: Pinball machines need to be placed somewhere flat.
Coincidence? I think not.
No, you have got to think that there is some connection between these two facts: how else do you explain the way that the Dutch punch well above their weight on the pinball scene?
There’s Dutch Pinball and the Big Lebowski, there’s Silver Castle and Timeshock!, there’s Pinside, the global pinball forum that was started by Dutchmen in the heart of the Low Countries, and Jersey Jack Pinball’s LCD animator, Jean-Paul de Win, is also a clog-jockey.
And then there’s Pinball Magazine, the big glossy mag devoted to the silver ball.
Pinball Magazine is the labour of love of Jonathan Joosten, a 43 year old Dutch pinball fanatic who’s often to be found at pinball shows around the world promoting the magazine and – latterly – a pinball photography book he’s published called Pinball by Argentinian photographer Santiago Ciuffo.
Producing a glossy magazine is no small undertaking, and when the subject matter is as niche as pinball it’s hard to make it a full time job.
But it’s perfect for Joosten, who’s day job – if you can call it that – is a nightclub DJ. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights find him cranking out the sounds to late night revelers in the city of Utrecht. “One of the reasons why I started Pinball Magazine was that my DJing gives me four days a week to do something else but music,” he says.
Of course Joosten has form when it comes to magazine production: for three and a half years he was the editor of Spinner, the quarterly magazine of the Dutch Pinball Association.
And it was while editor of Spinner that he got to know Martin Ayub, the editor of Pinball News.
“I was talking to Martin at a Dutch pinball event, and he said to me that if I did a magazine like Spinner in English it would be the best magazine in the world,” Joosten explains. “If he hadn’t said that to me then I probably wouldn’t have done Pinball Magazine.”
Joosten’s modus operandum is to embed himself with the main subject of each issue of Pinball Magazine, and then to produce an in-depth interview about every aspect of their career in pinball.
It’s a technique he learned when Gene Cunningham announced that Illinois Pinball Inc. was to start building Big Bang Bar machines back in 2004.
“At the time Big Bang Bar had an almost mythical status, and I was tempted to get one but Gene was charging $4500 which was a lot of money in my eyes,” says Joosten. “I thought he might need some help so I called him and asked if I could come over and help with production and we worked out a deal.”
As a result Joosten spent several weeks over in the States working on the game’s production.
Did the deal involve receiving a complete game in return for working there? No, says Joosten, (although he does now have a Big Bang Bar.) But he did get something BBB related. “Gene kept his word and provided me with what we agreed on, so I am apparently one of the few people who got what they agreed with him,” he says. “I have no complaints about him at all.”
More recently Joosten spent two weeks in the company of the late Python Anghelo for the forthcoming Issue 3 of Pinball Magazine, and this has resulted in over fifty hours of recorded interview material.
This provides some insight into why, two years after the first issue was published, Issue 3 has yet to see the light of day. The fact is that Joosten produces the magazine almost single-handedly, and turning fifty hours of recordings into a printable interview takes vast amounts of time.
“If you knew Python, you know that the way he speaks is… non-linear,” says Joosten. “Python’s mind ran at a hundred miles an hour and his mouth did too. Transcribing and fact checking the interviews has been a nightmare, because listening to the recordings is not an easy task and often things turn out not to be as Python remembered them,” he says.
But that’s not the only thing that takes up time. There’s also laying out the magazine, selling it, promoting it, shipping out the monthly batches of orders all around the world, and plenty more besides.
“There’s a lot of work involved in maintaining the website, and I also have to read Pinside and keep up with what is going on in the pinball world,” says Joosten. “And Pinball Magazine is not the only thing I do in my life: I also have a girlfriend and a social life.”
So don’t expect Issue 3 until later in the year.
Despite this heavy workload, Joosten says that when the issues come together it all becomes worth it. “I love doing the interviews and learning about the creative process that goes into creating games: finding out why some elements were put into some titles and why some things were left out. I find it very intriguing, and doing the magazine satisfies my curiosity and lets other people find out as well.”
Talking of Pinside, it comes as no surprise to know that, thanks to the close-knit world of pinball in the Netherlands, Joosten is acquainted with Pinside founders Robin and Martijn van Mourik.
“I know Robin and his brother from Dutch Pinball Opens about ten years ago,” he says. “Back then Pinside wasn’t that big, and although I supported what they were doing I was more involved in the Dutch Pinball Association. When I started with Pinball Magazine I rediscovered Pinside and began spending more time on it again. ”
That explains how come one evening last year Joosten arrived at Robin van Mourik’s house for dinner with none other than Gary Stern… but that’s another strange Dutch pinball story that’s already been told elsewhere.
Footnote: Joosten has just launched a set of posters of photos from Santiago Ciuffo’s Pinball book. Proceeds from the sale of the Gorgar poster will be donated to Barry and Donna Oursler.
Big Bang bar photo by JeepersMedia
Feature photo by PavlovFollow pavlovpinball
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(based in Amsterdam)