I have a lovely and caring boyfriend who often brings thoughtful and charming gifts – a bunch of flowers in my favourite colour, chocolates that bear an uncanny resemblence to his chosen pet name for me, every brand of throat sweet when I came down with tonsillitis two months into our relationship…. He’s pretty wonderful.
Not long after we’d started seeing each other, he was going away on a business trip, involving an internal flight.
I asked him politely if he would mind supporting my Toblerone habit and gifting me one of their airport specials – salted almond (as delicious as it sounds, trust me). He agreed. And I can’t remember when, but at some point I casually asked if he’d buy me a porn mag. And he agreed to that, too.
I’m a bit obsessed with analogue porn. My first exposure to erotic material was my older brother’s hidden stash of Fiesta at a stupidly young age (under double digits). I can still remember some of the images – women in plastic macs – and peculiar phrases describing an orgasm as a ‘mushrooming fireball of lust’. I liked the stories more than the pictures, the excitement of the adult experiences I was yet to master.
I’m a little too young to remember the halcyon days of finding shreds of Page 3 girls in the woods; by the time I was entering puberty the internet was taking a hold and it was pretty easy to find naked ladies/men/combinations thereof as was your taste, through a quick visit to AskJeeves. Then there was late night softcore shenanigans on C5. I remember the thrill of catching a few moments of the 1970s adaptation of Fanny Hill – I’d devoured the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejdudice, and the idea of a pornographic costume drama was the holy grail.
I got older and internet speeds got faster and watching porn online became as easy as checking the news or buying tat on ebay. But the thrill of leafing through a magazine, with its adverts for expensive chat lines, and weirdly sexy cartoons, and Readers Wives pages with their neat black bar across the entrant’s eyes, never dissipated, even though I was far too chicken to walk into a Newsagents and congidently purchase a copy of Razzle. Over a decade later though, here I was with a compliant boyfriend who wanted me to be happy and a happy me was a me with a porn mag in her lap.
He presented it to me in my bedroom. He’d asked me what kind I’d like – “chubby girls,” was my response. And these were beautiful, voluptuous women. Pages and pages of them in various softcore poses. And interspersed with them, the usual, borderline offensively written adverts for sex chatlines. But that was all. No stories. No articles. No grainy shots of amateurs. I was grateful for the gift, but a little disappointed with the publisher.
Cut to a couple of months later. He’s on another work trip away, he knows the drill. Goes into an upmarket adult store and asks for porn mags. “No dice. No call for it. Print media is dying out.”
5 minutes later he messages me again in a bog standard newsagents, choc-a-bloc with mags of every description. “No call for it – Hah!” He buys us a three pack, which we devour over the course of a few days around planned family obligations. There are articles in these magazines. There are even reviews in these magazines! (I was geninely surprised at that.) But fancy porn store man has a point, too. Because, well….. These magazines are BAD. Not the features artistes, who are very beautiful in a variety of different ways. Not because they are exploitative or borderline illegal, at least not that I can see.
They’re still making porn mags. But they’re putting fuck-all effort into the formatting of those mags. It’s like they’ve given up hope, which I think is pretty sad. I’ll leave you with some examples below of actual text from the magazines my loving and patient partner purchased for me. Vowels and consonents all over the shop.