The New Pornographers

Posted by David Ozanich — 4 Oct 2010

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It’s not everyday that the New York Times decides to write about the current state of pornography or, as the chattering classes might call it, “erotica.” The article focuses on the husband-and-wife team of Jonathan and Danielle Leder, publishers of Jacques magazine, a boutique publication of “artistic” erotica.

They represent the new forefront of pornography and its return to the “vintage Playboy” aesthetic:

Jacques is offering a self-conscious throwback to the magazines of the late 1960s and early 1970s, before the days of silicone implants, Photoshop and streaming HD video.


It’s a highly stylized aesthetic that evokes a bygone age of Polaroids and Kodak Instamatics. Mr. Leder shoots on 35-millimeter film, uses only existing light and never retouches or digitally manipulates a photo — blemishes and body fat be damned. “A lot of quote-unquote porn is just simply disgusting,” Mr. Leder said, offering his view of the adult entertainment industry. “It’s so cheap and so vulgar, it just turns everybody off.”

His cultural influences are mid-period Hugh Hefner and Norman Rockwell. “We’re trying to do something kind of wholesome, kind of family,” he said.


That last bit is hilarious. Here’s another good one about the models:

The Summer 2010 issue featured an 18-year-old student, Audrey, who goes to Parsons the New School for Design, and lists free trade, gay rights and women’s rights among the issues she feels strongly about. Her perfect date? “Vegan dinner, vegan dessert and a concert.”

Ugh, that date sounds like my personal nightmare. Except for the concert part.

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Anyhow, the article also brings up Jacques’s brethren in the emerging pin up trade like Richardson, S Magazine and BUTT which are described as “unabashed in their approaches to erotica, yet remain artsy enough to be left on the coffee table.”

Here’s where things get interesting in a broader way:

Butt’s pink paper and Jacques’s oversize 9-by 12-inch format are no accident. While most publishers are tweaking their periodicals to be more digital, these titles are proudly analog. They are also priced more like hardcover books: Richardson sells for $28 and S is $19.95. Jacques, by comparison, is a modest $9.


“As magazines become more-premium objects, they use the paper and the physical experience as part of the narrative,” said Andrew Losowsky, editor of the Magtastic Blogsplosion, a blog that chronicles the global magazine industry.

So, actually, this could be construed as reasserting that print is not in fact dead. I think we can all agree, no matter what our personal opinions about erotica, that photography always looks better in a glossy magazine than over the internet. With the iPad and the internet eating away at print publishing’s ability to make payroll, these periodicals seem to indicate that the public is still hungry for a traditional magazine experience. Sales of the first issue of Jacques were only 1,000 and it was available only in a few select New York boutiques. The last issue had a print run of over 14,000 copies and was sold in national chains like Barnes & Noble and American Apparel.

Just wanted to let you know this is happening and its apparently seeping deeply enough into the culture to warrant the full Sunday New York Times treatment. You can read the whole article here and I really recommend it.

And while I’m sure that none of you, dear readers, would ever be interested in such SMUT, but if a “friend” wants to learn more or if you want to take a closer look for “purely professional reasons,” you can visit Jacques magazine here. (Warning: Site NSFW)

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Jonathan and Danielle Leder with their son. Picture via pigmag.com

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