Thursday, 23 July 2020

Lovecraft on Film Appendum:
Cthulhu Sex Magazine.

In the past, I’ve tried to follow up each of my Lovecraft on Film post with a brief supplementary post, either highlighting some ephemera related to the recently reviewed film or showing off some scans of relevant artefact from my collection. When it came to finding something to compliment the lascivious themes discussed in last week’s discussion of From Beyond however, I’m afraid I drew a blank. Instead therefore, I thought I’d share a few tantalising images and scraps of info concerning a publication whose issues are sadly entirely absent from my modest archives.

Published in New York City from some point in the 1990s up to 2007, the blunty titled ‘Cthulhu Sex’ is notable for the sheer lack of information about its contents and creators which has made its way online.

The image above is taken from an ebay auction archived on the valuation site WorthPoint, whilst all other images and information in this post have been sourced from a series of entries on the zine on the SF/fantasy fanzine database site Galactic Central. Between them, these two links seem to provide pretty much the sum total of extant evidence concerning this publication’s existence.

The earliest issue which I can find a cover image for is Vol. 1, No. 13, published in 1998. This and a few subsequent issues seem to exhibit a raw, photocopied aesthetic, with splattery / grindcore style artwork that certainly doesn't hold back.

(Vol. 1, No. 13 - cover artist unknown.)

(Vol. 1, No. 14 - artwork by Paul Komoda.)

Soon thereafter however, the zine seems to have embraced a now very dated looking digital/DTP approach to design, moving toward a gothy/cyberpunky feel which is… less to my taste, shall we say. At least some of the extant cover illustrations from the MS Publisher era are still pretty cool though, nonetheless.

(Still working primarily in the realm of the monstrous to this day, cover artist Paul Komoda apparently went on to lend his talents to the 2012 remake of ‘The Thing’.)

(Vol. 1, No. 16 - artwork by Paul Komoda.)

(Vol. 1, No. 18 - artwork by Paul Komoda.)

(Vol. 1, No. 18 - artwork by Paul Komoda.)

During its second ‘volume’ in the early ‘00s, ‘Cthulhu Sex’ gradually became a somewhat more lavish, semi-pro type affair, even moving into colour, and featuring far less explicit / attention-grabbing imagery on its covers. A few examples follow;

(Vol. 2, No. 13 - artwork by ‘Popeye Wong’.)

(Vol. 2, No. 23 - artwork by Chad Savage.)

As to the actual contents of ‘Cthulhu Sex’, all we have to go on is a partial set of contents lists available on the Galactic Central database. Scanning through these, we learn that the pseudonymous figures of ‘St Michael’ (presumably credited editor Michael A. Morel) and ‘Father Baer’ seem to have loomed large over proceedings, with other contributors to the earlier issues including ‘Racheline Maltese’, ‘Abigail Parsley’ and ‘Oneroid Psychosis’. All of which gives me the pleasant (if likely entirely misleading) impression of some seedy clique of sun-shunning reprobates creeping around the back-streets Manhattan in the late 1990s, knocking on unmarked basement doors and whispering hoarsely to each other of ever more twisted new ideas for their next issue.

Later on, the sense of mystery dissipates somewhat, with a greater number of contributors using what may actually be their birth names (alongside some choice chatroom-era teen-goth alter egos). There are also what appear to be some interviews with bands (none of whom I’ve heard of, but imagine the sheer sense of accomplishment they must have felt when ‘Cthulhu Sex’ called them up to request an interview), along with the inevitable reviews section. More spine-chilling terror than any of the tentacle-sex based material is surely promised meanwhile by a regular column entitled ‘Gothic Nightclub Romance Monthly’.

The official website of ‘Cthulhu Sex’ appears to have been stone cold dead since the final issue hit highly selective shelves in 2007, but Horror Between The Sheets, a collection of writing taken from the zine, was published in 2005, and as of September 2019, a volume entitled ‘Letters to the Editor of Cthulhu Sex Magazine’ can sit proudly upon your shelves for only $16.99 payable to, courtesy of e-book/print-on-demand publishers Crossroad Press.

Authorship is credited to Oliver Baer - Father Baer himself no less - whose other credits apparently include “..a history of the Wu Tang Physical Culture Association”. His Amazon biography furthermore informs us that, “he has performed as an unspeakable horror from the depths and his likeness has appeared on film in the documentary ‘Tai Chi Club’ as well as in videos of different sorts.” What a guy.

And, that’s about all the info I can dredge up on this subject for the time being, though of course I’d be interested to learn more about this unique zine and its contents, particularly those elusive older issues whose covers seem never to have seen the light of a scanner. In all seriousness, I hope that ‘Cthulhu Sex’ provided a lively and valued community organ (so to speak) for the select group of readers and writers bold enough to place it on the counter of their local underground bookshop and/or post their subscription cheque to the mag’s Grand Central Station PO Box, and it saddens me that I missed out on the opportunity to at least sample an issue or two.

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