PROJECT:OBJECTIONABLE (5)

By: Oliver Baer
October 16, 2021

One in a series of 25 first-person narratives of offense, outrage, innocent transgression or principled affront, in attire, display, speech or spectacle.

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CTHULHU SEX MAGAZINE

“You think you can do better,” Michael glared at me. His challenge shot across the all-night café table. “I know I can,” I responded. I had just thumbed through Cthulhu Sex, a zine Michael had put together to showcase the talents of a small group of us from the NYC Goth scene, and told him that while I loved the content, it needed an editor. “Then you can edit the next issue,” he said. “OK,” I said. That is how I went from a contributor to the editor of Cthulhu Sex Magazine, which went from being a zine with poetry, prose and artwork to a magazine with national and some international distribution. Eventually, we even had our own imprint as part of another small press publisher called Two Backed Books.

We were also the first magazine to market ourselves as erotic horror. Blood, Sex and Tentacles became our subtitle. It seemed a more acceptable way to channel our talents than the blood-filled performance art, black magic rituals and fetish nights that occupied our time otherwise. The title and subtitle were a response to commentary made within our circle about one of our friend’s sexual proclivities utilizing the Great Cthulhu.

We didn’t realize how conservative the horror community of the late ’90s and early 2000s was. Not to mention retail publishing. While there has always been sex in horror, it turns out that the community for the large part had decided to suppress that idea. The erotica community wasn’t exactly fond of us either, claiming we were just aiding the stigmatization of their genre. But Michael had a vision. He wanted to celebrate the sensuality in horror without veering into pornography. When the distributors and retail giants would sell us in the pornography section or put us in with the arts magazines but demand that we be polybagged with a ribbon around parts of the cover, Michael would respond by saying that we were less offensive than some of the photography magazines. His description was that we were “the Goosebumps of erotic horror” considering what else was out there.

We did have our share of weird Lovecraftian incidents associated with the magazine. One of our contributors was found dead in his closet just as the second story he sent us was being printed. He was naked and rolled up into a rug with a copy of a previous issue. Apparently, he liked to sleep this way, sometimes after taking opiates, and often masturbated with the magazine while rolled up in the closet. Somehow, he suffocated. Then there was the contributor who was diagnosed with a rare blood disease after their story was printed in the magazine. Or the contributors who claimed they were awakened by sounds in their walls after being notified of their story’s acceptance to the magazine. The incidents seemed to lessen the more popular we became. Perhaps the higher caliber artwork and writing along with the sacrifice of our sleep and sanity helped. Now the only evidence the magazine existed is in the hands of subscribers, piled in an accursed box in my apartment (whose contents are accessible through my website), and in my epistolary novel, Letters to the Editor of Cthulhu Sex Magazine.

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PROJECT:OBJECTIONABLE: INTRODUCTION by Adam McGovern | Adrienne Crew on MAKIN’ BACON | Lynn Peril on BABY’S FIRST ASHTRAY | Lisa Levy on TOILETTE-À-TÊTE | Maria Swisher on STEALING GENIUS | Oliver Baer on CTHULHU SEX MAGAZINE | Yelena Tylkina on A DRINK TO DEATH | Elke Claus on URINAL SHRINE | Jeff Lewonczyk on SUSPENDERS OF DISBELIEF | Jenn Mehm on TWIN SKIN | Marlon Stern Lopez on SOUVENIR OF THE LAPD | Lauren Curtis on NAILED IT! | Josh Glenn on K-TEL TRUCKER TAPE | Fran Pado on THE BRIEF LIFE OF FRANCES POTTER | Nikhil Singh on HASHTAG FASHIONPOLICEPROBLEMS | Adam McGovern on PERSONA NON GRATA | Crystal Durant on LICENSE TO SHOCK | Dean Haspiel on DIRTY DOORKNOB | Justin J Bowen on UNKLE KRAMPUS | Annie Nocenti on STICKY FINGERS | Michele Carlo on THE MANY HATS OF CARMEN MOFONGO | Alice Meichi Li on BEDTIME FOR CATWOMAN | Whitney Matheson on GYNECOLOGICAL GOODFELLA | Ran Xia on PROJECT GREENCARD | Mimi Lipson on MEIN KITSCH | Art Wallace on ELECTRIC KOCH.

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SEMIO OBJECTS: Lucia Laurent-Neva on SPONGEBOB BUS | Samuel Grange on SALT & PEPPER HOLDER| Ximena Tobi on VASALISA | Sónia Marques on CABBAGE TUREEN | Thierry Mortier on BICYCLE BELL | & 20 MORE.

MOVIE OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Ramona Lyons on EYE OF THE SERPENT (CONAN THE BARBARIAN) | Faythe Levine on BEDKNOB (BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS) | Gerald Peary on CUP OF COFFEE (THE BIG HEAT) | Christopher Orr on TOM’S HAT (MILLER’S CROSSING) | Lynn Peril on TRANSISTOR RADIO (DR. STRANGELOVE) | & 20 MORE.

LOST OBJECTS (vol. 2): INTRODUCTION | Joe Yonan on MACRAMÉ ART (ill. Theo Ellsworth) | Ben Katchor on LUCITE CARRYING CASE | Debbie Millman on GLASS POODLE | Lydia Millet on ROCKY HORROR NOVEL (ill. Berta Valló) | Ben Greenman on WARHOL CAN (ill. Clara Selina Bach) | & 20 MORE.

FETISHES: INTRODUCTION | Josh Foer on DEATH MASK | Beth Lisick on MURDERED-OUT KFC BUCKET | Christina Couch on LEECH ACTION FIGURE | Kenneth Goldsmith on THEWLIS SOCK | Abby Rapoport on MAGNATILES | & 20 MORE.

FOSSILS: INTRODUCTION | Allegra Huston on SKATAWAY JACKET | Kevin Obsatz on HOMEMADE NUNCHUKS | Ian Bogost on DESKTOP TELEPHONE | Jeff Lewonczyk on CHA-CHA JACKET SCRAP | Kelly Horan on VOLVO KEY | & 20 MORE.

FLAIR: INTRODUCTION | Cliff Kuang on ROLEX DATEJUST | Ethan Zuckerman on LAPTOP STICKERS | Ann Shoket on LEATHER JACKET | Kembrew McLeod on KEMBREW MERCH | Paola Antonelli on MERMAID TEARS | & 20 MORE.

LOST OBJECTS (vol. 1): INTRODUCTION | Kate Bernheimer on MULLET WIG (ill. Amy Evans) | Dan Piepenbring on COLOGNE (ill. Josh Neufeld) | Doug Dorst on STRATOCASTER (ill. John Holbo) | Paul Lukas on VANILLA BEAN (ill. Allison Bamcat) | Mimi Lipson on DODGE DART (ill. Mister Reusch) | & 20 MORE.

ILLICIT OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Kio Stark on PEEPSHOW TOKEN | Sari Wilson on TOMBSTONE PARTS | Annalee Newitz on CAR-BOMB REMNANT | Tito Bottitta on MOONINITE DEVICE | Eric Bennett on DIRTY MAGAZINE | & 20 MORE.

TALISMANIC OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Veda Hille on CROCHET SHEEP | Gary Panter on DINOSAUR BONES | Jami Attenberg on SELENITE CRYSTAL | Annie Nocenti on MINIATURE DICE | Wayne Curtis on CLOCK WINDING KEY | & 20 MORE.

POLITICAL OBJECTS: INTRODUCTION | Luc Sante on CAMPAIGN PAMPHLETS | Lydia Millet on PVC POLAR BEAR | Ben Greenman on MATCHBOX CAR | Rob Baedeker on PRESIDENTS PLACEMAT | L.A. Kauffman on WHEATPASTE POSTER | & 20 MORE.

SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS at HILOBROW: PROJECT:OBJECT homepage | PROJECT:OBJECT newsletter | PROJECT:OBJECT objects (Threadless shop — all profits donated to the ACLU) | POLITICAL OBJECTS series (1Q2017) | TALISMANIC OBJECTS series (2Q2017) | ILLICIT OBJECTS series (3Q2017) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 1 series (4Q2017) | FLAIR series (2Q2018) | FOSSIL series (4Q2018) | FETISHES series (2Q2019) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 2 series (4Q2019) | MOVIE OBJECTS series (2Q2020) | SEMIO OBJECTS series (2Q2021). ALSO SEE: SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS website | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS collection, ed. Rob Walker and Josh Glenn (Fantagraphics, 2012) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY, ed. Josh Glenn (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY excerpts.

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