On Our Backs Magazine (1984-1994) A radical defense of female sexuality and its public portrayal

Time for me to return to the beginning; my beginnings in female sexuality. I was instrumental in creating and publishing On Our Backs: Entertainment for the Adventurous Lesbian (1984-1994). On Our Backs was the first modern erotic magazine created by and for women. It’s pages defined who we as women are as erotic beings: what are our fantasies, our desires, our erotic skills, and how do we communicate this? We created never-before seen photography, wrote feature articles on taboo sexual subjects, and published erotic fiction written by women for a women’s sensibility.

 

An article on Timeline recently appeared, remembering the cultural impact that On Oour Backs magazine had. OOB editor Susie Bright picked it up and put on her facebook, which instantly created a wonderful volley of memories and kudos from contributors to the magazine and its readers. Here below was my two cents.  After you read it, you will better understand why my first two posts could be characterized as “a radical defense of female sexuality and its public portrayal.”

 

Here’s what I wrote on the facebook post:

 

“What a fun time! Creating the images and framework of modern female sexuality!  Revolutionary, political, imaginative and all-woman-powered. Birthed in 1984, On Our Backs magazine (1984-1994) looked Orwell in the eyeball and espoused: Viva la Vulva, Baby!

 

Thanks for finding an OOB archive at Cornell and your indefatigable PR of OOB’s contribution to cultural change, Susie! Anthropologist Margaret Mead: “A handful of people can change a culture; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Massive kudos to all who made On Our Backs possible: the daring creative talent, brave sales, stalwart bookkeeping, methodical distribution, bold design, dauntless assistants and intrepid volunteers, and the courageous readers and supportive advertisers.

 

And we weren’t just print! We were a triad of lesbian sexuality creations umbrellaed by Blush Productions: On Our Backs magazine, Fatale Video and BurLEZk Live! – the weekly lesbian strip show at the local San Francisco lesbian bar (4 year run). To the BurLEZk dancers: You are Legend. You are Immortal.

 

Video images were created concurrently at that time via Fatale Video. Beg Nan Kinney and Christi Cassidy to get those BurLEZk striptease videos into downloads!  Watch the videos on the Fatale Media website.

 

Wait! More Praise and Glory! Publishers: gallant Nan Kinney and indomitable me, audacious editors Susie Bright and Marcy Steiner, fearless assistants Shar Rednour, Lulu Belliveau and Greta Christina. Providers of periodic Castro St Office recess, gratefully received, are two: son Aaron Schultz rolling Hot Wheels under around desks and jumping stairs, and unparalleled Blaise and her parties!  Oh, let’s not forget Adobe publishing and Apple computers!

 

In 1985, I searched out Adobe Desktop Publishing at the San Francisco Mac Expo. Their sign said: ‘Make an 8-paged newsletter on your personal computer!’ I laughed, threw down my 48 page lesbian sexuality magazine on the sales table, flipped my Fanny Fatale striptease beads at them, and said, “You can do a helluva lot more than that with it!”

 

May Venus Continue to Rise on this planet Gaia in all her erotic, sensuous and lusty aspects both mundane and ethereal. Whose got the torch now?”