Zinesters love sex almost as much as they love to disclose personal information. They get a rush from dissecting it, intellectualizing it, illustrating it, fetishizing it and demystifying it. Thus, the Toronto zine scene has a load of little mags that explore the art of feeling fine.A few of these indie publications are heads above the rest.
She's Got Labe ($2 or trade for your own zine at firstname.lastname@example.org) is an old-skool cut 'n' paste deeelight, the kind of woman-run publication that makes zineland such a great place to hang out.
Enter a space where riot grrrls write poetry about their Kegel muscles and disclose the intimate details of the hunt for a mutual masturbator. You can even take a slapdash little quiz about your favourite thing to listen to during sex with yourself: Beastie Boys, Peter Gabriel, Prince or porn videos inside your head?
Moving along, Teeny Misprint Press's Pocket Canon series ($2, email@example.com) has the corner on literary taboo. The intro to the first chapbook in the series, titled Anaïs, ominously asks readers whether we're ready for anonymity. The story inside is longish, in the vein of a novella like The Story Of O, in which a man and a woman live out sexual fantasies. At the end, the man seeks unusual absolution from a priest.
The idea behind Pocket Canon publications is that each will be written by a local writer, possibly well known, who chooses to remain anonymous. They may be staying incognito out of embarrassment over the text's explicit content, but so what? There's some excellent writing that deserves to be read. The series is a bit of a paradox. It seems to have mainstream pretensions, but it's packaged as a do-it-yourself publication.
Have you ever taken sexy photographs? Some local artists decided to bare all and publish their "art" in black-and-white on inky newsprint. In Shag ($5, firstname.lastname@example.org), page after page of local art stars play out their sexual fantasies on shag carpeting, daring the viewer to look again. It's basically an indie cum rag created by local artists Michael Barker, Cecilia Berkovic and Simone Moir. I see it as an alternative to the blond Barbies in Playboy, but not much else.
Trade: Queer Things ($4, www.tradequeerthings.com) has been a steady member of the small press scene for a few years now. Edited by the indefatigable Jon Pressick, the quarterly publication of intellectualized queer sexuality has articles on topics like the art of packing, bicoastal break-ups, boob binding and why gays and lesbians are stuffy and dull.
There are also frequent sexy features like the four-page spread of photos of backs (they are somehow titillating), a dissection of various brands of dildos and an overview of male bisexual porn on the Web.
What will Toronto zinesters think up next? To find out, check out the zine section of your local bookstore or pick up Broken Pencil magazine, the guide to Canadian email@example.com