Viewing sexual subcultures through a sociological lens

Viewing sexual subcultures through a sociological lens

Lust & desire — From cannibalism and butt play to homemade sex toys, Phile is the new zine exploring and celebrating sexual diversity around the world.

Buttholes, drag icons and phallic sculptures: just a few things to expect from Phile’s second issue, the biannual journal investigating sexual subcultures, trends and communities. The brainchild of Co Editor-in-Chief Erin Reznick and Mike Feswick, Phile – also billed as the ‘International Journal of Desire and Curiosity’ – is a reflection of the duo’s long-held interest in sexuality and the complexities of human desire.

“We wanted to create a platform where we could share different perspectives on sexuality,” Erin and Mike tell Huck. “We’re able to make connections between larger socio-political, economic and cultural trends. The most interesting thing about this project is uncovering how people express their most innate desires and understanding why.”

We’ve seen a number of boundary-breaking sex zines springing up all over the globe: from Working It, a platform for sex workers to discuss their industry freely, to the carnal confessions found in The Anonymous Sex Journal. What then makes Phile so different?

Phile_scans_issue2_09 Phile_scans_issue2_05

While the co-editors concede that there are “some amazing erotic publications being published today,” Phile distinguishes itself by inviting contributors to write about their own experiences. “This helps us avoid sensationalist reporting and allows us to present authentic and meaningful stories,” Erin and Mike explain.

“We don’t aim to shock people with the issues or fetishes that we publish. We simply want to present our readers with information on what exists in the world and encourage insight, exploration and acceptance.”

The spreads are undoubtedly provocative; from a photo series on fetish enthusiasts in Michigan, multi-media artist Kenya Robinson’s sculptures of ‘fifis’, handmade sex toys made in U.S. prisons, to an essay dedicated to the sexual history of cannibalism in the Western World, interspersed with contemporary artwork and interviews. The diversity of Phile’s latest issue, according to Erin and Mike, is a testament to the diversity of sexuality.

Phile_scans_issue2_03 Phile_scans_issue2_08

While these are to some extent taboo sexual practices, is it possible – in a world of adult babies and omorashi –  to still be shocked by sexual subcultures? “We definitely haven’t seen everything,” Erin and Mike say. “So much about sexuality is unspoken and immeasurable.”

A conscious decision to ensure Phile doesn’t approach sex and sexuality simply from a white, Western lens is deftly interwoven throughout the zine. While Phile is based between Berlin, Toronto and NYC – three cities selected for their rich queer and sexual histories – Erin and Mike researched stories across the world, ensuring that all contributors are of varying ethnic backgrounds, gender and sexual identities.

Writer Ashkan Sepahvand’s essay ‘La Pute Arabe’ is testament to this commitment, documenting his experiences as a gay man of Iranian descent in Paris. “It’s a meaningful and poignant perspective and Ashkhan delicately walks us through his experiences,” Erin and Mike affirm.

Phile_scans_issue2_04 Phile_scans_issue2_00Phile’s design, unlike its somewhat more modern contemporaries, is not dissimilar from academic paraphernalia, drawing on academic journals “because of the formality they convey.” However, Erin and Mike are cautious to remove the elitism so intrinsic to academia and instead “create an accessible avenue into the exploration of sexual freedom.”

Ultimately, Erin and Mike hope that Phile can serve as a tool for readers to celebrate and explore their sexual preferences and sexuality in a fun and playful way. Or, as they put it themselves, by “showing them what already exists.”

The second issue of Phile is out now. Follow the team on Instagram.

Follow Salma Haidrani on Twitter

Enjoyed this article? Like Huck on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.