ET ALORS? ISSUE 1
Editor: Fleur Pierets; Design: Julian P Boom
LMDP Media Group (www.etalorsmagazine.com)
In these austere times, with the fetish scene suffering like most business sectors from the downturn in consumer spending, to launch a “luxury” fetish print magazine might seem a pretty crazy idea.
The glossy magazines already in the marketplace — Marquis and its sister title Heavy Rubber, Skin Two, Von Gutenberg and a couple of others — publish for an audience that has shrunk massively since the early ’90s heyday of such titles, even though the scene itself has grown in size. Today, these publications all jostle for readers and advertisers in a world where both are in much shorter supply.
So what would persuade anyone, observing that situation, to bring another fetish title into the world? Well, in the case of Fleur Pierets and Julian P Boom, editor and designer, respectively, of new pan-European, English-language magazine Et Alors?, the motive was to create the magazine they always wanted to read themselves.
And from Issue 1 of Et Alors? (trans: So What?), which appeared shortly before Christmas, it’s pretty clear that what Fleur and Julian want to read is very different from any fetish magazine you might have seen before.
In fact, to describe it just as a fetish magazine is to do it a considerable disservice. Rather, its content embraces a mix of alt-sex interests and related artistic endeavour, but with a strong emphasis on fetish at its core (taking up about 50 percent of the launch issue).
Even before you flick through it, one difference from existing fetish magazines is abundantly clear: at 256 pages, it’s around twice as thick. But thankfully it’s not twice the price; ordered online in Europe it costs €22 (including postage) against €16 for Marquis and €15.60 (approx) for Skin Two.
Issue 1’s cover image — featuring Fleur and Julian themselves — is a strong clue to the magazine’s pansexual take on fetish, preparing those who venture between its covers for its view of fetish, gay, lesbian and transgender cultures as a continuum with many areas of overlapping interest ripe for coverage.
Thus in the first issue you will find articles on Bettie Page (with a superb B+W photographic homage featuring Déna Massque and Rachael V); Beatrice Morabito’s fetish Barbies; hair fetishism; London extreme cabaret artist and latex designer Marnie Scarlet; Tokyo’s kinky love hotel, the Alpha Inn; and a treatise on sado-masochism and fetishism in popular and classic literature by Akim A J Willems.
But you will also find features on London clubber fashions of the noughties; the “little people” created by UK artist Sinkachu; Belgian performer Saint-Marteau’s stage-show tribute to Serge Gainsbourg’s songs; avant garde fashion portraiture by Alyz; a profile of Amsterdam drag queen Jennifer Hopelezz; and lots more.
The strong, unifying design aesthetic of the magazine helps to promote its publishers’ belief that such a broad range of topics can live together happily under one roof. The page layout is crisp, clean and elegant, with lots of white space, chunky black headlines and discrete blocks of unobtrusive but legible text.
This is magazine graphic design at it most grown-up — there is no wading through layers of masturbatory artschool splatter to get to the actual content. All is assembled with the care, precision and love that goes into making real art. The words are worth reading, the English impeccable. The pictures are beautifully executed and chosen, and the brilliant-white matt paper gives each image maximum depth and luminescence.
So far, so gorgeous. But despite its desirability as an artefact, Et Alors? will still have to negotiate a few hurdles before it can lay claim to being a publishing success. Not least of those is the shrinking market for fetish print magazines previously mentioned.
Another obstacle is the challenge that faces any magazine trying to cater to several traditionally separate niche audiences within one product.
The publishers will presumably be hoping that by tapping into a broader market than just “traditional” fetish, they can generate bigger sales than existing fetish-only titles can. But is the market for a premium-priced, broadly targeted product — albeit one whose production values make it a keeper — actually bigger?
Will hetero fetishists buy an expensive fetish-orientated magazine that devotes half its space to other topics? Will the LGBT audience buy it for the LGBT content if they are not interested in fetish? Will the art crowd shell out for the art coverage if they’re not that into alt-sex interests? These are questions that have yet to be answered.
It may be that with 2012, the time has finally arrived to be celebrating sexual diversity in an enlightened high-end product with a pervy heart. I hope so, because something as beautiful as Et Alors? certainly deserves to succeed. TM
It may be that with 2012, the time has finally arrived to be celebrating sexual diversity in an enlightened high-end product with a pervy heart