They say sex sells, but sales is far from erotic magazine Phile’s sole motive. Founded by Erin Reznick and Michael Feswick, Phile was set up in 2017 to explore sexual subcultures, fetishes and kink. The biannual journal hones in on a wide range of questions surrounding sexuality and desire through a critical, sociological lens. “By looking at things from a sociological point of view, we’re able to make the connections between sexuality and cultural, economic and political landscapes. The more and more we research, the more unified these sexual expressions become – they’re all really about the same things. They’re about sensations, care taking, power struggles, control; things that feel innate to all of us,” Erin and Michael tell It’s Nice That.
Sex, gender, race and power are among the topics discussed in the publication’s second issue, which launches tomorrow (24 February). By interviewing transgressive creatives like drag queen and performance artist Christeene Vale and showcasing subversive artists like Latex Lucifer, Phile is at the forefront of an aesthetic and political movement that champions sexual freedom. “We started Phile because we think it’s important to hear and share stories of those who are underrepresented,” the editorial duo says. Despite its disparate manifestations, sexuality is a unifying force according to Erin and Michael who remind us that we all have desires we long to fulfil.
Interviews, essays, illustrations and photographic series are carefully arranged in this considered piece of work. The two designers, Julia Troubetskaia and Thomas van Ryzewyk, credit Eros as being a core influence on the magazine’s layout. Ralph Ginzburg and Herb Lubalin’s 1960s journal had a “guilefully academic quality to it” that inspired Julia and Thomas when considering Phile’s format. The design duo go on to say that they were “attracted to academic journals for the scale and formality they convey.” By drawing inspiration from scholastic publications, the Phile team produce a journal that retains an impartial distance from the content it covers and withholds judgement. In this way, Phile places trust in the reader to exercise their own critical capacity. “Our magazine doesn’t take a stance on the fetishes or issues that we cover. We’re not here for shock value or for fetishising particular practices. We aim to simply present the reader with what exists in the world,” the editors say.
Alongside the launch of its second issue, Phile will be introducing an online video platform that will showcase a variety of erotic and artistic videos and short films. “It’s hard to find erotic or pornographic videos that feature the types of people we want to see, at least in a respectful way. Our video library will live side by side with the publication in exploring and uncovering new ways of sexual expression. It will be artfully produced, while still being sexy and turning people on,” Erin and Michael explain. By expanding across different media, Erin and Michael strengthen their vision to examine, challenge and disrupt mainstream narratives of sex and desire.
“At the risk of sounding cheesy: By dismantling our concepts of gender and sexuality, we uncover our humanity. It’s a nice thought, especially during times when we feel disconnected from one another.”
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