- EROTICA/EPHEMERA: Three printmakers have made a home for the low-brow and the sex-positive with Little Rocked Zine, a DIY porn publication on the eve of its third anniversary.
Human beings are documentarians by nature, and before we could catalog our sexy exploits on the likes of Reddit and XTube, we rendered our naughtier bits on the walls of caves. We sculpted and painted breasts and genitalia with meticulous care and, eventually, we took pencil to paper. During the Depression Era, those carnal cartoons were called Tijuana Bibles or eight-pagers: wallet-sized obscenities available only on the illegal market and usually rife with copyright infringement, showing popular comic characters like Blondie or Popeye in compromising positions. An up-and-coming Al Capp, for example, was unaware of the burgeoning success of his comic strip "L'il Abner" until he saw a dirty parody of it being sold on the streets.
Here in Central Arkansas, that DIY porn tradition is being preserved with Little Rocked Zine, a tiny-press operation run by three printmakers who, to protect their privacy, we'll call by their Zine aliases: The Queen of Dogs, Stinky Pete and O.G. JP. Together, as they say in their mission statement, they "encourage people to question the constraints that society places on gender roles and the oppression of sexuality that is raging in our culture" and "offer people the opportunity to break free from the cultural bounds that tell us how we are 'supposed' to act and present our bodies." And they do it with filthy, raunchy, homemade smut.
Three years ago, a friend of the zine's publishers — we'll call him Grizzly Bear — was interested in putting together a zine. (For the unfamiliar, that's a low-fi, cut-and-paste booklet, a staple of the underground literature scene since the 1930s and a cousin of the aforementioned Tijuana Bible.) The zine, Grizzly Bear mused to a group of friends, would tell a story he'd dreamed up in which an alien from outer space visits Earth, offloading a "vanity virus" easily spread through human contact. The virus would settle into the bodies of its hosts, making them impossibly vain — and impossibly horny. Supposedly, it also turned turquoise, released spores and, eventually, led to the demise of the human race as a result of worldwide coital exhaustion.
"I just wanna draw some smut, though," someone said. "Yeah, me, too," another printmaker chimed in. And with that, Little Rocked Zine was born, a platform where you, the reader, can "joyfully explore your smutty interests" by "seeking stimulation, exploring sexual preference, gender identity and expression. ... Come! Be aroused, amused, aghast!" the zine's welcome message beckons. "This zine is for YOU! A free space to share and celebrate the erotic arts." Last year's 36-page issue, "Preaching to the Perverted," spans the high-art/low-art gamut, featuring a poem about a messy first encounter; a photograph of milky breasts half-hidden by a large white cat; a short story about a wet dream involving a tentacled green extraterrestrial babe (that you, Grizzly Bear?); rudimentary drawings of fellatio in progress; instructional comics advising us to "always be sober the first time, and turn on some lights"; an art-school snapshot of someone in a horse mask peering out from behind a shower curtain at a dapper young man atop a toilet, mid-poo; and a "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style tale called "The Affair." OG J.P., Stinky Pete and The Queen of Dogs put it together at various copy shops around town for a per-unit cost of around $4.50, and sold them for $6.
Although they accept submissions online — provided the submitter can verify that he or she is 18 or older and anyone photographed is also 18 or over — the zine's publishers are attracted to the tangible, analog nature of homemade print media, or, as O.G. JP put it, "The paper ephemera world ... the silly tradition of printing zines at all in the digital age." "It's the idea of having something in your hand," Stinky Pete said. "A token."
This year, the zine's cover will be screenprinted, in part because there were some screenprinters the publishers wanted to involve with the project, and also because the trio liked the idea of a textured design for the third issue, "Scratch 'n' Sniff." "You'll be able to see the ink raised," O.G. JP said.
Little Rocked Zine's subject matter can swing mid-page from the divine to the depraved, and has never yet been reined in under an overarching theme. If there's one characteristic connecting the anthology, it's expression of consensual sexuality — and a spirit of inclusion without shame. "We wanna stray away from mainstream porn," Stinky Pete told us. "We also really wanna reinforce consent," The Queen of Dogs said. "That having sexuality, and perpetuating consent as a part of that, is important. We're trying to give a voice to all genders and sexualities, not just cis-hetero perspectives." For more information, visit littlerockedzine.com. To request a copy of the zine, available in late February, email firstname.lastname@example.org.