I had to wait awhile for it. But when it finally did arrive, it came
in a nondescript manila envelope. Once I removed the contents, I
quickly played show-and-tell with all of my girlfriends. And this is
what they said:
“Wow, this is hot!”
“Where’d this come from? Oh, New York? That figures.”
“Um, do you mind if I borrow this overnight?”
“Hey, I think I know that guy.”
I first discovered Sweet Action three years ago from a brief reference to its then soon-to-be-released first issue. Jane magazine said that it would be “a porn rag with frontal male nudity that feels like your best friends wrote it.”
I ordered it on the spot.
Up to that point, the porn rag market had been operating on unequal
terms, gender-specifically speaking. One reason was that when it came
to sex, women were purported to be less visually stimulated than men.
Consequently, men had a legion of glossy nude mags; we had Playgirl, where—as The Village Voice’s
Tristan Taormino puts it—“the majority of the men are the
one-dimensional equivalent of Chippendales strippers (is that
redundant?): shiny, dated, and too groomed for their own good.”
With that sort of metrosexual appeal, it’s no small wonder that Playgirl largely developed a gay male following.
That is not to say women did not crave more publications that
featured naked male parts. At least amongst my girlfriends and I,
visual images are huge turn-ons—but mostly in context with something
relatable. Playgirl was not for us.
A sculpted torso of Fabio, long blonde locks flowing, clutching a fair maiden in a backbreaking pose on the cover of Lord of My Stable?
Not so much. But a tattooed, sleepy-eyed dude holding a cigarette and a
bottle of beer while lounging naked on a rumpled futon? Hot!
Enter Sweet Action. Aside
from other similar photos of gloriously imperfect but accessibly
attractive men—with the kind of scruffy facial hair and pensive gaze
you find charming in that guitar-wielding neighbor you’ve been crushing
on not-so-secretly—that first issue also featured cool graphics and
witty, informative and irreverent writing with a “best
friends”-quality, conversational tone.
The content definitely has a pervasive appeal to the slacker elite:
interviews with Eugene Hutz—the front man for Gogol Bordello, a
gypsy-punk band from New York City—and Seen, the godfather of graffiti,
as well as an article giving an X-rated tour through the early days of
porn video games, an investigative report on the lost art of the hand
job, and a small list of things to do when you’re horny, broke and
The second installment (what, you thought I was only going to order
one?) was their “Music Issue” featuring reviews, on-the-road tales from
The Giraffes and Crimson Sweet, an interview with Big Daddy Kane, more
artsy, voyeuristic photos and cool, edgy graphics by Hope G., and a
dissertation on the recent FCC obscenity crackdown.
But the best part was a letter from an 80-year-old woman, enclosed
with a check for $10 to cover the cost of one issue plus mailing, who
said, “If your magazine is as advertised, I’ve been waiting for such a
one for many a year.”
Sweet Action followed that
up with an issue featuring more rock band interviews, a board game, a
full color poster of a cute naked boy and my favorite, their fourth
installment, “The Heartbreak Issue.”
By now it seems the founders of Sweet Action—Micole
Taggart and Robin Adams—and their beloved crew have nearly doubled
their page count without sacrificing their raw, DIY-attitude and
creative edge. Their regular features are all there, as well as the
particular charm of being “horny, heartbroken, and lazy.”
From confessions of homemade dildos to a profile of Iris Brooks, the
co-founder of the Accompanied Library—and, yes, pictures of naked
men—I’ve finally found a dirty mag that I can relate to.
So Thanksgiving’s this week, and what am I thankful for this year? Sweet, Sweet Action, baby. Awww yeah…
[Sweet Action back issues can be ordered online at www.sweetactionmag.com. Issue No. Five, “The Sci-Fi issue,” coming soon.]
Samantha Campos is currently
mourning the death of the pink flamingo plastic lawn fixture as the
last vestige of late 1950’s-inspired high art. MTW