The sex magazine making everyday life sensual

by Kitty Drake in April 2019
Erotic

A sex magazine with an unusual approach, Extra Extra is interested in life’s banal bits. This magazine’s most erotic moments happen in lifts, and meetings and empty corridors, as everyday encounters flicker into life. It’s this celebration of infinite sexual potential, not just in daily routine — but in architecture, and dance, and the act of writing — that makes Extra Extra intriguing. The British poet Keston Sutherland, who is interviewed in this latest issue, describes the feeling of writing his first poem as something physical: “I can remember thinking that my body somehow had been transformed by this experience of trying to summon within me the pressure adequate to express this intense desire”. Approaching art and criticism sensually is something we don’t usually do. Here it feels natural.

Pieces have an interesting quality of being academic and personal at the same time. And while the art featured is rarely explicit, it depicts casual moments where eroticism feels newly possible. The highlight of the issue is a series of photographs by the American artist Deana Lawson, picturing black couples and families in their homes. Sometimes they’re naked, but there’s an vulnerability about the images that goes beyond nakedness. Reading Extra Extra is not strictly arousing. It’s more like opening your eyes to the erotic as something more indefinable, and significant.

Contributing editor Samira Ben Laloua talked to us about presents, perverts, and the latent sexuality in book recommendations.

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The magazine opens with a short story about a woman on a feminist book tour, who has sex with a hot audience member after he asks her “[have you ever been] stroked so long, and so attentively… all your feminism went out the window because the only thing you wanted was to die and be born again”. Often, the most erotic things are the least politically correct. Is political correctness something you think about at Extra Extra?

The idea at Extra Extra is to have a very open way of addressing the erotic. But I think you have a certain idea or reason why you’re asking this question. I’m wondering what that is?

Well it’s a bold way to begin, because the story is about a woman who changes her feminist messaging after having sex with a man. We liked the story, because it’s sexy, and the erotic should be brave enough to play, and push boundaries. But it’s unfashionable, shall we say, for this moment?

Well the author of that story, Nina de la Parra, is the daughter of the Pim de la Parra, who made the very explicit erotic film, Blue Movie. I don’t know Nina personally, but I feel like she’s inherited something of her parents. I don’t think the story is problematic, I think it’s very eloquent. But the controversy is of course that this woman is going along with the audience member, she’s enjoying herself with it. Which is a fantasy that we aren’t willing to share at the moment as women. I think it’s very interesting the way Nina in her writing addresses something that is more daring.

The erotica you print is inspired by the mundane corners of our lives. Elevators; airport queues. Why are these everyday things the sexiest?

Because these are the moments when you are most surprised. The erotic is always something that is unplanned. Then it’s the sexiest. When you’re not expecting it, then it’s the most fun as an encounter.

The Deana Lawson images are amazing. What was your intention in including them?

I was really interested in the images, particularly because they are in the domestic arena. Did you notice all the objects in the background? A woman lies naked on the carpet in one, and there are children’s toys behind her. I think that’s very intriguing. Such a very sexual person, and she’s also a mother, or a babysitter. And I find it fascinating that these photos show a body as a body can be. It’s not a photoshopped body.

Why do you find the domestic sphere so intriguing?

Because it’s private. It’s triggering a fantasy about what is happening behind closed doors. The people shown are strong but vulnerable. They show their bodies, they also all look directly into the camera. They trust the photographer so much, and by extension they also trust us. They are wonderful.

I like the section of the magazine devoted to book recommendations. Why is it important to you to include Extra Reading?

I’m always attracted to men who read. And reading — it’s so silent, so very private. Of course there are book-clubs, but I think a book-club can never change the emotional response you have when you’re reading the sentences alone for the first time. Also from the writer, you feel there is a real need to share their ideas or fantasies. It’s this give and take. That’s an erotic act. Recommending a book is also an erotic act. And lending one!

Because you make yourself vulnerable? And if the person you’re lending to doesn’t react to the book the way you did, it can hurt you?

But that has so much to do with control! If you want somebody to read a book it should be a gift. You need to give them that freedom to interpret it how they want. That’s why we never run reviews in Extra Extra. It shouldn’t be about pushing your opinion on someone else. That’s what makes it truly erotic.

We loved the feature by Sam Steverlynck, ‘The pervert’s guide to architecture’. Why is it important sometimes to look at things with a pervert’s eye?

That title is a reference to [Slovenian philosopher] Slavoj Žižek. The way I understand the ‘pervert’s eye’ in this context, is that it is an exceptional eye. You don’t need to be looking at a sexual act, but everything has a sexual element. So with architecture: why do you like it? Why do you have a strong feeling about one building and not another? There are sexual elements there that trigger the mind. We just don’t like to admit it because of morality, of course! It’s interesting, because the writer of this pervert’s guide is always apologising. He doesn’t want to be a person who sees sex in everything. But the question is, I think: why not?

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