My most fun collective art project was producing Pornorama, a pansexual queer porn zine. I wanted to explore whether it was possible to subvert the sexist and misogynist norms of conventional pornography while not shying away from less-than-politically-correct fantasies and desires. Pornorama avoided the niche marketing of most pornography by including cis and trans, kinky and vanilla, lesbian, gay male, and heterosexual erotic stories and images in the same pages. But the edgy* queer rebellion of Pornorama was steeped in an identity that was largely young, white, able-bodied, and conventionally attractive.
Pornorama did not arise in a vacuum. Many queers in Montreal were making art, music, and film (including lesbian sex films) in an earnest manner. We wanted to change the world and perhaps get laid; I don’t think anyone aspired to be famous or even cool. My friend Zeph, a one-time Montrealer who had moved to San Francisco, was putting out a philosophical zine about lesbian S/M called Brat Attack, and I thought if she could do it, I could too. Another queer friend, Kiwi, heard I wanted to do a ‘zine, and together we met with Mirha Soleil to talk about whether we should publish together. Ultimately, we all did our own thing, although Kiwi contributed to Pornorama and we shared a mailbox for our zines, our lives being too unstable for a permanent address. Kiwi published QT (aka Queer Terrorist Queer Tapette), a queercore zine critical of mainstream gay and lesbian culture for being bi and transphobic. QT also included Beverly Hills 90210 fandom that may or may not have been ironic. Mirha moved to Toronto and put out Gender Trash From Hell with her at-the-time partner, Xanthra Phillipa.
Other friends and acquaintances were self-publishing comics. Leanne Franson, a children’s book illustrator by day, published humorous semi-autobiographical comics about her evolution from “fagless fag hag” to “acute baby dyke” to “bi dyke.” (These were eventually collected into three books.) Before becoming a novelist, Kirstyn Dunnion (using her name spelled backwards) put out Mudflaps, mini-comics about feminism and dating guys and girls. In Hell Cat Comix, Toby Reeve mused about sexism and being a butch dyke.
Financing for Pornorama was derived from my minimum wage job as a line cook and a party in which people were invited to “dress like a slut or just act one.” I broke even on print runs of 300 by selling my zine in gay and lesbian and feminist bookstores as well as sex shops on Montreal’s St. Catherine Street. Additionally positive reviews in Factsheet Five, Broken Pencil, and Holy Titclamps led to mail orders from people as far away as Japan and Israel.
For legal reasons, I am not making Pornorama available on the web but will send a copy to researchers if requested.
* Or at least the aim was edgy! One contributor, a beautiful and brilliant junkie, kept changing her desired pseudonym. After discarding Bent Metal Spoon, she settled on Skinny Butt. Unfortunately, due to an oversight on my part, this was published as Tiny Butt. That this was a cruel, humiliating disaster was made clear by her in ten minutes of outraged squawking left on my answering machine.