Sweaty City

by Kitty Drake in August 2020

Brilliantly named, Sweaty City is a magazine about the impact of climate change in Sydney — which, on January 7 2018, recorded a temperature of 47.3 degrees celsius, making it the hottest place on earth.

The stories featured here are local, and rather eccentric: the opening interview, for example, is with the artist Emily Valentine, who likes to make sculptures out of the taxidermied bodies of abandoned roadkill. Dog-bird mashups are Valentine’s speciality, “cockatoo labradors” and “peacock pugs”: “If someone has a particular breed of dog, for example a chihuahua, they’ll want a sculpture of a feathered chihuahua. It’s a weird way of making these domestic animals look native, especially the rainbow lorikeet dog.”

Pets are a bit of a theme across the magazine, with one memorable feature providing a guide to stopping your cat decimating natural wildlife (the average cat kills around 70 animals per year). Printed next to a picture of a strange, milky-eyed cat clutching what looks like a plank of wood, this piece exemplifies Sweaty City’s unconventional approach to illustration: photographs are often a bit dark and unfocused, but their subjects are so unusual it doesn’t really matter. The whole magazine has a homey, low-budget look.

More dangerous animals also feature — an interview with the botanist Aunty Fran Bodkin tells the story of how she has been bitten four times by the Sydney funnel-web, the world’s deadliest spider. Before an anti-venom was developed in 1981, Bodkin’s blood was actually used as an antidote.

Ostensibly, Sweaty City is only really interesting to people who live in Sydney — one photoshoot, for instance, literally rates the best water fountains in the area. But like all good independent magazines, Sweaty City’s obsessive commitment to its theme makes it an unexpectedly gripping read. I read every single caption about every single water fountain and I enjoyed every second of it.


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