Ladybeard and Hotdog both launched in the past six months, and while Mushpit has been running since 2011 we included it in our list of ‘new’ magazines because of the way that every issue continues to experiment and evolve, making it up as they go along. This enthusiasm for throwing out received wisdom and creating a new, distinctive and authentic type of magazine was a theme that emerged throughout all three presentations on the night.
First up was Ladybeard and editors Kitty Drake, Sadhbh O’Sullivan and Madeleine Dunnigan. Born out of a frustration with traditional women’s magazines and the superficial aspirations they promote, Ladybeard aims to cover topics that are mis– or underrepresented in the mainstream.
The first issue of Ladybeard was themed around sex, an obvious starting point according to the editors: “Sex is constantly mythologised in mainstream media, and it’s everywhere. But it’s completely out of touch with reality; predominantly straight, white and clean.” By featuring a range of different perspectives – trans, queer, cis, eco-sexual – the sex issue aims to demonstrate the diversity of real-life sex.
The Ladybeard team is currently working on their second issue themed around the mind: “While the sex issue is very out there, the mind issue will be more introverted. We’ll be looking at how our mind defines us and our outlook; like how hormones effect gender identity, the nature/nurture debate, and how to unlearn ideas about the world around us”.
Next up were Molly Taylor and Megan Conery, founders of a new poetry and collage magazine Hotdog. The pair said they’d always loved poetry but had never found a venue in which they felt comfortable, so Hotdog started from a wish to share the joys of poetry outside the traditional ideas of what a literary magazine should be like. Hotdog aims to be fun, accessible and visually appealing.
Hotdog is all-female and trans-inclusive, and while the initial plan was to feature 80 percent female and 20 percent male artists (as a reaction to the traditional split featuring predominantly male voices) they soon realised they just weren’t that interested in featuring male writers. “There’s plenty of space for male writers elsewhere; this is just what we’re interested in”.
With both Molly and Megan working full-time, Hotdog is a passion project funded out of their own pockets. The first issue launched just last month and the next issue is still in planning stage, but we were told to expect more great female writing and some new formats not included in issue one.
Our last speakers of the night were Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts of satirical magazine Mushpit. Like Ladybeard, Mushpit grew out of a rejection of mainstream women’s magazines, but Bertie and Charlotte also draw inspiration from the mainstream by parodying its content and appropriating its language and visual style.
Started in 2011, Mushpit aims to be participatory, challenging and funny, and everything Bertie and Charlotte think is missing in mainstream women’s magazines. “So many mags should be dead by now, but they’ve got a flatplan or whatever so they just keep going … But without them we couldn’t be doing what we do”.
In recent issues, Mushpit has increasingly come up with original content while maintaining its characteristic voice, like beauty ads with products from 1989, or luxury Dior bags photographed on top of a loo roll dispenser in a public toilet. And with the next issue of Mushpit due out at the end of February, designed by none other than Ben Freeman from Ditto Press, we’re looking forward to seeing where they take it next.
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