Salacious is back for more. The self-proclaimed “Queer Feminist Sex Magazine” has built upon its debut with more genre diversity, some small, cute additions, and plenty of content to keep a reader busy for an afternoon or long commute.
Immediately, what sets Salacious apart isn’t its mission but its art. In our internet age, there is not shortage of writing nor smut. But lesbian trans woman erotic comics? Salacious has got you covered.
The art in Issue #2 shines, highlighting a diversity of artistic styles, skills, subjects, and tones. Justin Alves’s colorful paintings provide the magazine with an erotically playful centerpiece while offering stylistic nods to Basquiat. The leading comic “Any Way I Can” by Elenore Toczynski likewise demonstrates a sweet yet sexy exploration of queer sexuality through splendid comic design. Her keen transitions and terrific sense of framing engage the reader throughout the story, while never preaching nor patronizing. This monochromatic trans lesbian love story is a sweet visual counterpoint to Alves’s (presumably) gay male coupling.
Jillian Edward’s comic “Juniper” is likewise successful in its illustrative prowess, if its “To Be Continued” status is bit too premature to be satisfying.
While the illustrations soar, the fiction is a bit more uneven.
Many of the stories, while rife with imagination and sordid settings, lack a certain precision in the writing, creating confusing and meandering tales that could benefit mightily from a deft editorial hand.
That said, a few pieces hit the perfect balance of primal and cerebral.
T.R. Moss’s hot and elegant “The Baritone’s Throat” is the stand-out fictive piece in Issue #2. Telling a sordid tale of backstage lasciviousness among a chorus of hot young opera boys, Moss captures the art of sex. In its spare two-page spread, readers are treated to power dynamics, group play, gender play, age play, luxe sensations, and hot cock-sucking, all set to a Maria Callas aria. With Moss’s story, the easiest pun is also the most apt: the story hits all the right notes.
Frenchie’s “Dick Docks,” is a sweet, playful story that engages with humor more than eroticism, which, despite the explicit sex, actually works.
“This is How I See You Watching Me” by Coral Aorta takes an experimental approach that is both accessible and sexy. Though its format (a he said/she said style) is a small risk, the results are elegant and effective. It’s a trim and erotic story that relies on distance, both thematic and practical, to achieve the intimate.
This distance is where the erotic often lives, in the spaces that allow the reader to reach across the divide, to seek out sensations rather than having them foisted upon them. Some of the other stories could have benefited from this approach, most notably Alexandra Johnson’s “I See You” which left nothing to the imagination except, at one point, point of view. One can credit the story for taking risks with consent play, but a sparer approach could have maintained the heat while removing the confounding verbosity.
“Watching” a poem by Sossity Chiricuzio, is a beautiful counterpoint to some of the more burdensome fiction, as it reminds the reader of the pure power of a few well-chosen words: “your fist/ is so far inside me/ I doubt my own height”
Yet, in Issue #2, the written word excels most in the personal essays.
It is in these stories that Salacious seems to most live up to its subtitle as a “Queer, Feminist Sex Magazine.” Though not aimed squarely at titillation, these stories nevertheless often hit the heat, too. Frederick P. Dobson’s “Learned Among Lockers: Confessional of a Voyeur” manages to draw the sex from the intimate point-of-view of a young man indulging his attractions among his locker room peers. Dobson’s voice sells the whole piece, as play and personality mingle in a pleasant vignette of desire and voyeurism: “I was sold sex, but I purchased fetish (drag a single finger between happy trailed skin and elastic band, lift the band, release for a slight satisfying snap).”
Indigo shares a similar story that walks the line of titillation and editorial, sharing a scene in which her girlfriend and she reconnect with an old friend at a sex party.
These stories, offer the reader a chance to be invited into a world so exotic yet so familiar, providing an insight into a sex-positive community that is exemplified in the worlds created by all the contributors to the magazine. Here we meet Ms International Leather 2011, Sara Vibes. Editor in Chief kd shares her own experiences as the winner of International Ms Bootblack. And Jennifer Thibodeau introduces readers to the San Francisco Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival.
Queer sexuality, by definition, is not one-size-fits-all. These pieces provide a full experience of what sex really is to so many of us. It’s not mere groinal stimulation. Rather sex is a means to connect, to distance, to define and redefine our bodies and hearts. Salacious speaks to it all. This may be a frustration for readers of Salacious, for whom each page may not encourage a stiffie or wettie. But this is no design flaw. It is, rather, what makes Salacious special. It allows the reader to receive an erotic hit on one page, then a mental hit on the next. In this way, Salacious is the best representation of queer sexuality I can imagine: ranging in body and voice, in style and spirit, yet co-creating and co-habitating a sexual world of which we are all a part.
Salacious Issue #2 is on sale now and can be purchased on-line at select stores. The San Francisco launch party for Issue 2 is this Sunday, from 5 – 7pm at Good Vibrations 603 Valencia Street (at 17th Street) San Francisco, CA 94110. Go here for more details. To learn about submissions for Issue #3, visit the Salacious website.