Sexy Mags, Part 1: Talc

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In the lead up to February’s annual love-in, Phoebe Lovatt spoke to the people behind two magazines that are challenging the way we look at sex, erotica, and the ever-shifting space in between. First up: TALC founder and creative director Edward Vince.

TALC describes itself as an ‘adult design magazine for modern times’. How did you set about modernizing the adult magazine format?

We borrowed the most fundamental aspects of traditional soft porn media–the staple-bound format, the narrative-driven shoots featuring a model–which we felt still made sense today. We then considered how today’s reader is just as fascinated, almost sexually, with beautiful material objects and art direction, such as the recent celebration of interior design. We used these ideas as the backdrop of the shoots–the interiors, furniture and objects are just as important as the model herself.

With TALC, we aimed to create something readers haven’t really seen before. We achieved that through the art direction and the branding whilst still subtly referencing ‘70s and ‘80’s imagery and typography, and also with the editorial content featuring TALC muses, photographer Barbara Nitke and Leonard Koren of WET magazine fame. It was important for us to show respect for what came before that has helped make TALC what it is today.

What sparked the original idea? How did you bring it to life?

Originally, it was a reaction to the continued sexualization of contemporary culture we are witnessing at the moment. In our opinion, 2013 was a landmark year for commercial and widespread sexuality, so we launched at the right time. Nut nudity has been creeping back into mainstream culture at a great speed over the last few years, and is something we picked up on long ago.

We’d also witnessed, as I’m sure readers also have, the burgeoning culture of online image curation; particularly a genre that seemed to feature a selection of interior objects, fashion and beautiful women. It’s not that we wanted to recreate a Tumblr as a magazine, but we realized there was a hunger for a publication that pulled some of these ideas together. Plus, we were intrigued by the challenge of creating an adult mag that wouldn’t be frowned upon.

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Tell us about some of the writers and photographers you worked with on the first issue.

We hand picked our contributors for their style and approach knowing that collectively their work would create a really strong, confident and progressive feel for the magazine. We are so humbled to get so many incredible people involved. We wanted to create a mix of well-known names like Mat Maitland and Leonard Koren with super talented young photographers and filmmakers like Teddy Fitzhugh and Rose Maisie Willoughby, who shot the cover story.

The editorial was directed by Fauzia Musa and Max Reyner; two editors with whom we’ve collaborated for a long time. Between the two of them, they brought an intelligent-yet-unpretentious voice to the writing and developed a relationship between the editorial and the imagery. The design of TALC was also vital to the whole feel of the magazine. It was crafted by design studio Vince & Son, and we wanted to create a really substantial and confident feel for the layout and typography to allow it to house the content with ease.

You raised money for the first issue using crowdsourcing site Kickstarter. Why do you think people were willing to fund the idea?

Our Kickstarter campaign succeeded our initial goal by quite a bit, and we were surprised ourselves to be honest. TALC ran the risk of being polarizing and potentially misunderstood. We’re not sure exactly why people wanted to fund us, but one thing we’ve heard a lot from our friends and readers is that they liked the idea of TALC. That somehow TALC doesn’t actually fit into the current saturation of magazines and stands apart while managing to appeal to both men and women.

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How does TALC challenge or redefine the way that women are presented in erotic media?

The death of the “lad mag” signifies a shift in mindset towards the way erotic and soft porn is approached. The lad mag had crassly positioned women, especially when juxtaposed to the original Playboy, Penthouse, and Lui magazines that glorified women in a more tasteful and intelligent way.

We tried to celebrate the female form without objectifying it. But the real key thing is that TALC is as much for women as it is for men. From what we’re told–and this includes the opinion of our female editor–fashion magazines don’t celebrate women in a way that’s appealing since every model or interviewee is retouched. None of the images of women in TALC have been augmented. We worked with many female photographers and stylists, and everyone involved has been really excited and proud to be a part of something different.

British people have a reputation for being sexually repressed. Do you think there’s truth in the stereotype? Does TALC reflect a cultural shift?

There’s definitely truth in the stereotype. It’s changing, but I think it will take another generation for Britain to shift that reputation. London is, of course, a slightly different place to the rest of the UK so things are changing quicker here. Historically, Britain has refused to acknowledge the existence of any kind of sex industry for centuries, driving it underground and making sexuality a taboo subject, reducing it to top shelf magazines and basement bars. Perhaps we are witnessing another sexual revolution.

Interestingly, we have also found it far easier getting the magazine stocked in more culturally progressive places like Colette in Paris and Dover Street Market London as well as stores in LA and NY amongst others. Some of the UK stores have been a bit stuffy, even refusing to display the magazine on their shelves. I think that says it all really.

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What does ‘sexy’ mean now?

Sexy to us is: being unapologetic, authentic, confident, and most importantly, intelligent.

You’ve commissioned a track by Joe Ashworth especially for the first issue. What, in your opinion, are the three sexiest songs of all time?

Patrice Rushen, “Remind Me”: Authentically sexy so it’s probably our first choice. Of course it was covered by Mary J Blige, but definitely wasn’t bettered.

LL Cool J, “Doin’ it”: Has to be in there because it’s LL, but also because of the super sexy sample from Grace Jones’ “My Jamaican Guy”. The lyrics are ridiculous!

Larry Heard, “Missing You”: We wanted to mix it up a little with this track from Larry Heard the Chicago house master. This one has more of a laidback vibe than the others.

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