An interview with the creators of Phile Magazine: The International Journal of Desire and Curiosity
For the edition of FKIN (A)rt Friday, we are lucky enough ot have an interview with the creators of the fascinating sex/art/culture magazine, Phile.
They describe Phile as "a biannual journal exploring sexual subcultures, trends, and communities both obscure and well known from an overarching, sociological point of view."
Phile Issue No. 3 Fall 2018 features Ana Benaroya, Andrew Griffiths, Annie Sprinkle, Ashkan Sepahv and Carlos Saez, D. Alex Pitagora, Ebecho Muslimova, Elizabeth Olear, Elizabeth Stephens, Fan Wu, Gregory Blunt, Huw Lemmey, Ion Birch, João Gabriel, Joseph Kadow, Julian DuFour, Lexi Minoa, Lindsay Dye, Mark Blower, Molly Matalon, Peaches, Prem Sahib, Robert Anthony O’Halloran, Robert Yang, Samantha Sutcliffe, Sholem Krishtalka, Sophia Larigakis, Valeria Herklotz, and Zack Kotzer. That’s a lot of culture!
The new issue of Phile is available to order online and shipping now to to cool art/book shops across North America and Europe. Go to www.philemagazine.com to order and view a full list of stockists (bottom of the homepage).
Now meet the creators of Phile. Images below are spreads from the new issue. ..
Some may consider Phile a fetish magazine, but you present its contents sans labels, as more of a buffet of interesting, unusual or just downright curious sexual practices for the pleasure and edification of your readers. Was this the original intention?
Yes, that was always our intent. Since the subject of sexuality is so expansive and our desires are unique to each one of us, we wanted our content and the flow of the magazine to reflect that range. Our content is by and for everyone. Presenting writing and artwork from an overarching perspective is a crucial part of our practice and identity.
Who are the people behind Phile and can you tell us a bit about the background of each?
The creators and Co-EICs of Phile are Mike Feswick and Erin Reznick. Mike is a multidisciplinary artist currently living in New York. His work explores desire, erotica and sexuality. As mentioned, he ran Up & Coming magazine and has worked in the sex industry in various ways for the past decade. Mike is the art director of Phile.
Erin is a producer and curator based between Toronto and Berlin. She has written for various magazines and has worked with an array of artists and musicians to create performances and cultural events around the world. Erin is the managing editor of Phile.
We also work closely with our designers Julia Troubetskaia and Tom van Ryzewyk who are also based in Toronto. They work collaboratively with us on the visual identity of Phile and create everything with us including the promotional posters, merchandise and the layout of the publication.
Spread from Phile Issue No. 3: Left photo by Handcuffed. Right photo by PP LePoo.
Spread from Phile Issue No. 3: Carlos Saez - Human Appearance Optional
How did Phile begin? As an idea? Collection of art you wanted people to see? Was there a manifesto?
We started Phile over two years ago after discussing the importance of sharing underrepresented stories. We wanted to create something that explored sexuality in a way that allows people to express themselves more freely. We consider Phile as an evolution of a previous project that Mike started in 2011 called Up & Coming. Up & Coming was a quarterly erotic pan-sexual magazine with the intention of showing various body types, genders and sexual practices. After becoming fast friends, we decided to start Phile as a larger, international publication that explores sexuality from an overarching perspective.
Spread from Phile Issue No. 3: Molly Matalon - Penny Pincher
How do you cull and curate the art, content, writers for each issue? Is it a long process?
The stories we share come from research, personal experience, conversations and submissions. Sometimes we think of a concept for a piece, commission the most appropriate writer and then think of a compatible artist to create work based on the writing. Sometimes the artwork comes first. In any case we commision people to create work based on their own personal experience. This keeps the content fresh and relevant, and allows our contributors to share their authentic stories.We spent about one year developing the project before our first issue was released, but each subsequent issue is produced within a five month period. Producing photo shoots and editing all of the written material are long processes, so it’s always a hustle to get the mag to print on schedule.
Spread from Phile Issue No. 3: Mark Blower and Prem Sahib - Chariots of Shoreditch
Spread from Phile Issue No. 3: Ion Birch - Celebration (2016)
How much of the art and content in Phile is original to Phile?
Most of the content in Phile is original. We want to use the platform to share work and stories from a diverse roster of people, and that includes artists who may have not been published before. Some of the work we show is not new but is either pertinent to a particular article or we feel hasn’t been given enough attention.
Spread from Phile Issue No. 3:Still from "Succulent" (2015) Created by Robert Yang
What has been the most popular features you’ve published so far and why?
It’s hard to pinpoint our most popular features because we receive such diverse feedback; we love how our readers relate to different stories. The essay La Pute Arabe, written by Ashkan Sepahvand is one of our most memorable pieces. It is a personal essay set in Paris recounting its narrator's various sexual forays there as a visitor, a foreigner, and a brown gay man. The subject is the Arab man, a complex symbol within the European imagination, one that embodies virility, power, and danger yet also weakness, brutishness, and pity. Accompanied by the colorful and introspective drawings by Soufiane Ababri, the essay is one that we’ve been thrilled to publish and has stood out to our readers.
Spread from Phile Issue No. 3:Still from "Hurt Me Plenty" (2014) Created by Robert Yang
Spread from Phile Issue No. 3: Peaches, Annie Sprinkle, Beth Stephens by Holger Talinski from "What Else is in the Teaches of Peaches," 2015.
Aside from Instagram, PHILE is strictly print. Clearly this is on purpose. In the age of digital everything, including magazines that exist only as flipbooks, why print vs. digital?
We love printed matter, we think it’s important to keep the tradition alive. We love producing the magazine as a tactile object, and that comes through in our design. Sex is a multi-sensory experience and we also like to approach multiple mediums to best understand different forms of sexual expression. Aside from the visual and tactile nature of the magazine, we also produce erotic videos, sexy make-out mixes on SoundCloud and host a range of events such as parties and installations. We enjoy experimenting with a variety of disciplines - we’ve produced an olfactive screening with the perfumery Folie À Plusieurs, a concert by Christeene, and performances by Young Boy Dancing Group, Narcissister and AGF Hydra.
Spread from Phile Issue No. 3: Joseph Kadow - Liquido
Spread from Phile Issue No. 3: Ebecho Muslimova - Fatebe Itchy Butt and Fatebe Flamenco
As you produce art in multiple mediums are there any other Phile projects or events in the works we should be on the lookout for?
We are focussing on producing original videos and will be releasing two new videos in the next couple of months. Keep your eye on our social media channels for our new projects and collaborations.
Finally, FYI, going out on a sweet note, Phile also makes and sells their very own lube (!), called Fluid. Why the lube?
The lube: we created Phile Fluid for the launch of our first issue. We created a formula for an oil based lubricant that is completely body safe (although not condom friendly). Ingredients include: calendula oil, sweet almond oil, hemp oil and sea buckthorn - excellent oils for hydrating skin and repairing damaged tissue. We are planning on making a new batch soon.
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