In a world of accessibility, erotica of every nature can be found with a keyword search on the internet. Sexual subcultures cannot be simplified and understood in categorical terms as there are endless multiplicities. It is also true that many of them may be yet unheard of. In the decade that we find ourselves in there is more acceptance of different ways of being in the world. More freedom to express and celebrate one’s sexuality, fetishes and inner desires openly. What does this say about us as a human race and what does it say about our innate desires that are explored in a variety of media from zines, to academia to documentary work and erotica?
One such form of media dedicated to celebrating sexual diversity from around the world is the zine, Phile. In the pages of this erotic zine, you can expect to find drag icons, phallic sculptures and buttholes. This journal investigates sexual subcultures, communities and trends. Zines such as Phile, act as a reflection on sexuality and the complex nature of human desire, thereby breaking down one-dimensional perspectives.
The founders of the project, Erin Reznick and Mike Feswick, express that it has enabled them to see the connections between larger socio-political, cultural and economic trends. What they find the most intriguing about Phile is unpacking the way in which people reveal their desires. They then attempt to understand the human sociology behind it.
What differentiates Phile as a zine in comparison to the vast amount of other disruptive sex zines such as Working It (a platform where sex workers can discuss their industry openly), is that it invites contributors to write about their personal experiences. The founders of the zine believe that this method avoids sensationalist reporting and aids in creating more significant and authentic narratives.
“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,” Erin and Mike state in an interview with Husk magazine.
The provocative spread of their second issue features a photographic series on fetish fans in Michigan, sculptures of handmade prison sex toys called ‘fifis’, an essay that investigates the sexual history of cannibalism in the western world as well as modern art and interviews pertaining to sexuality, fetish and sexual subcultures. The diversity of their latest issue acts as a testament to the diverse nature of human sexuality. It might be conceded that some of these sexual practices are taboo, but in a time of omorashi and adult babies are people truly still shocked by sexual subcultures?
Phile operates between Toronto, NYC and Berlin (cities with rich sexual and queer histories). Mike and Erin research stories from all over the world to guarantee that all contributors are of varying ethnicities, genders and sexual identities, thereby preventing a domination of white western sexuality and experiences, and enabling a diversity of voices.
Phile then acts as an access point into explorations of sexual freedom for its readers. Mike and Erin’s aspirations for their project is that it will act as a tool for their audience to explore and celebrate their sexuality and sexual preferences in a fun and playful manner. Phile is also educational in that it shows its reader which sexual subcultures already exist. Creating a platform for this discourse and normalizing human desire is what makes Phile and other zines of this nature important. Sexuality and sexual preference are there to be celebrated.