A Cheeky New Magazine Brings Feminist Porn to Print

Math magazine, Issue One.

Recently, I received a strange magazine in the mail. The bright-red, glossy cover bore a single word: Math. What was this mysterious Math magazine? I opened it and found, to my surprise, that it was full of porn. Luminous naked bodies filled the pages in artsy photo spreads and erotic illustrations.

“The primary mission of Math is to turn people on using words and images rarely seen but often sought,” says MacKenzie Peck, the creator and editor-in-chief of the erotica mag, whose first issue was published this fall. A print porn magazine feels like a throwback. Today, you can find whatever sexy images you want with a few keystrokes. But there’s something special about holding physical images in your hands, especially when it seems like you’re sneaking them from a boring math workbook. The name and look of the magazine are inspired by the days when publishers printed sexy pulp stories disguised as scientific studies and sociological texts (my personal favorite: 1966’s The Promiscuous Breed). “It’s tactile, bold, and a bit nerdy,” says Peck.  

Math editor Mackenzie Peck, checking in on a photoshoot. Photo by Jonathan Hanson.

What sets Math apart from actual old-school porn magazines is its ethos of consent and body positivity. Like many digital feminist porn-makers, Peck says Math is committed to “sharing a diversity of bodies and desires.” “We want you to feel good about where your X-rated material comes from. It’s like the organic food movement but for porn.” Based in Brooklyn, the quarterly magazine is a passion project for Peck and her small team—a designer and managing editor. So far, it’s distributed in several fine art book stores and feminist sex stores around the country, though you can also order print copies online.

A spread from Math magazine.

Most of the photos and illustrations in the first issue of Math don’t look like images you’d find in a more traditional porn mag. Instead of supermodel-style women gazing lustily at the camera, the issue pairs artistic shots of bodies in various states of dress and undress with text and original illustrations. To me, some of the images feel sexy. Others feel romantic, or sweet, or a little disturbing. That’s the point, says Peck. “Rather than simply presenting an array of ‘beautiful’ bodies to stimulate the reader, Math engages in an ongoing conversation about what makes us beautiful and explores the more subtle facets of sexual arousal.”

Issue two of Math comes out this month, and the tiny crew is looking for new contributors. “We are seeking models, photographers, and artists who are willing to get weird, be playful, and take healthy risks. We seek authentic work that reflects what real people lust after,” says Peck.

So now if you see someone reading a bright-red copy of Math on the train, you know what they’re really paging through.

by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media's online editor. She's interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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