I was almost late to interview Sarah Nicole Prickett because of a sex dream. It was voyeuristic and detached, not the way I’m used to dreaming, and involved two men, not the kind of thing I’m used to dreaming about. I’m still not sure one of them wasn’t a centaur—he had long flowing hair and was so rippled and muscly and—anyway, the two were just going to town on each other and I was outside of it, watching from above, like some kind of omniscient perv. Long story short, I hit snooze one too many times and ended up gchattin’ from my bed, which feels appropriate: we were talking about Prickett’s latest endeavour, ADULT Magazine, my (and your) new favourite source for stimulation of the brain and bod in print and online.
SDTC: Hello! I’m here. Woke up from a really intense dream, sorry.
SNP: I watched “Funny & Cute Rihanna Moments” on YouTube to prepare, so I’m good. The mission statement for ADULT should just be Rihanna saying “vibrraaa-shun” in her best life-side-of-the-island roll.
V. chill. I was out late last night and freaked myself out that I wouldn’t wake up before 10.
I wouldn’t have minded. I’ve been late my whole life—but i do appreciate your hangover-beating efforts for my sake.
That’s crazy to hear from someone who’s arrived at their career pretty young. ADULT’s got the website and the magazine and there’s a tumblr (NSFW) and twitter… it’s a lot going on.
Well, I mean a few things by [late]; when I was growing up, I felt stunted in my adolescence, because what I loved was increasingly different from what my parents, in their love, wanted for me. It was in some ways like growing up in the 50s, or maybe earlier, before “teenage” was invented, so I was not contemporary. And, worse (at the time it felt worse), I was a late bloomer. Like I didn’t “develop” until my last year of high school, a bit, then really into my first year of uni when I started taking birth control (birth control: not a love story).
When you say develop, do you mean boobs and musky armpits and wider hips and the sort of hallmarks of early womanhood?
Yeah, tits. ***foreshadowing*** I was obsessed with tits from an early age because I didn’t have them when others had them. So then I went to post-secondary school, twice, and dropped out, twice—I was a non-finisher. So my 20s in Toronto—and I lived there for… five years? Which seemed like an AGE—and it was an age, it was teenage, that was my self-making, and at a certain point it threatened to be my self-undoing… I felt I wasn’t getting better at writing, I wasn’t taking it seriously enough. I didn’t know at the time, I just knew I had to get out of a place that felt suddenly suffocating, and I had to get out, as well, of the relationship (romantic, hetero, live-in) that went so hard with the place. Still, I didn’t move to New York to work; I wanted to be small in a big place. Not humbled, but awed. I love Manhattan so much, the way I love movie theatres and pop songs and highways, except more. That feeling lasted for long enough that I miss it now… but okay, we are talking about ADULT. Yes, it’s a lot.
I read this kind of came out of a boredom with the porn available to us all at the moment. Was there a specific breaking point, a piece of content or something that really made you think “Right, i’ve got to make something about sex that’s more interesting than this”?
It was more likely a boredom with myself—what I remember about the time in which i decided to do this, so like December 2012, was that I was staying in New York by myself instead of going home to my family for Christmas. I caught hella sick, and the sickness made me horizontal for days, which for my brain isn’t a good thing. I can sink very quickly into that sunless feeling, like “why… do… anything,” and I started to feel very worried because it was obvious that no matter how hard I worked I would never get better without medication that I didn’t want to take, and what if one day a lacuna like this in my ability—or my productivity—became permanent? I realized that if I couldn’t write, I would be out of a job entirely. I had no other skills and no safety net and I’d worked freelance so long, and had developed so many lonely habits, that I felt totally unemployable—”too much myself,” you know? Also I think writing in New York leaves you no time to live, i.e. to do anything worth writing about. That’s why literary Brooklyn is so terrible—writers writing to writers about writing. The problem seems all solipsistic, but it’s partly economic.
I have glimpsed this on Twitter, I don’t think I like it.
Yes—on Twitter i’m usually part of the problem.
I mean I guess to simplify (probably oversimplify): you were looking for something else to do?
I was looking for something I could do that wasn’t just writing in a room, because I have strong impulses to take photos, to make art, and so on, but I have neither the skills or time to attain them. And in this time of depression i’d been flickering between Netflix and porn a lot, and drinking a lot, and smoking and thinking about differences between porn and film (lighting, mostly, to quote Gloria Leonard) and “bad” writing and “good” writing (language, you’d think, but it’s more often syntax) and how you need great style with bad taste to make anything original. I’d also become obsessed with old copies of VIVA Magazine viaVFILES, so 30 years later I thought why isn’t there a magazine like this now? Why isn’t there an erotic magazine that might be for women because it’s by a woman, but doesn’t have to be?
So what’s the sexiest thing, to you?
The sexiest thing is difficult. Probably I won’t tell you the sexiest thing… let me find the sexiest Instagrams I’ve ever taken. I’ll send you five.
Hands and fingies, eh? Sexy. Very tactile.
Yes. I have been trying to find just an incredible photographer of hands. Please put that in your article, so that if there is one, s/he will email me!
I can’t stop thinking about the Ass Man piece. Where do you find your contributors, or if they find you, what are you looking for? I’ve literally been thinking about the ass man for days. People keep bringing him up in disconnected conversations. I feel like he’s following me around.
In the print magazine everything is solicited. For the second issue, I assigned or solicited all the writing, except one piece, the big reported feature, which I knew my friend Katie had been working on months and months ago but had never published, so I asked her if i could have it, work with it, make it gorgeous, etc. Brad Phillips, who wrote the Ass Man piece, sent that in after we’d been corresponding for a minute about how much he loves ADULT and wanted to contribute. We do get emails like that, which is lovely. Usually pitches go to the web editor, Ana Cecilia Alvarez, or the web features editor, Raillan Brooks, because people tend to pitch stuff that’s timely or topical and thus a lot better for the website, but in Brad Phillips’ case he’s such a bizarre writer, a real loose tongue, with a talent for making you feel shame, that I also asked him to do something for print.
How are you finding editing compared to writing?
I love editing; I’m good at it. It gives me so much satisfaction to develop an idea until I think of a perfect executor.
Did you know you would be or was that a gamble?
Major gamble. I’d edited friends things, but nobody would ever know that. Enough writers think I’m a good editor that I’m encouraged to keep doing it. There are so few good editors out there, especially on the web, or else they are good but they’re so overworked. I try to make writers sound more like themselves. Sometimes I consciously seek out the things they do that are weird (but good!) and particular, almost tic-like, and I’m like, do that more. Not less. Most editors make you less. Not too much. But more. This is your hilariously vague advice for the day.
What do you like to publish? What are you trying to make?
Well, in print, we aim to make thematic, untimely time capsules. The web is in real-time, sort of, so pieces there are reactive, but hopefully not reactionary
on the web I imagine we will publish more of what our readers want, and in print it’s what I want. What Berkeley wants. Balanced, of course, with what our photographers and writers want. It’s much more like a group art show. The web feels more like a focus group. We do all these panel discussions! On money, on celibacy, on Nymphomaniac. they’re great, they’re my favourite part of the site.
I love the panel discussions. Like creeping on the best gchats. They’re one of those things that is so well-suited to the place and time and the Internet in general that i am surprised there aren’t more of them everywhere.
There will be, I’m sure people will copy us. We copied other people. The Morning After thing—Ana developed that after I told her we need one thing every day, or every other day, that wasn’t explicit or sexual but was intimate and had to do with unseen routines… because I’m obsessed with Into the Gloss. The staff is so sick of hearing about Into the Gloss.
Do you find it hard to let go of your writing instincts when you’re editing? like was it a difficult transition to go from serving your own voice to the voices of others?
It can be difficult. As a writer I’m very sensitive to writers, and I want them to sign off on every tiny change. But there comes a point when you have to push something to completion. I’ve fucked up before, mostly by doing things too quickly. Because, as you say, it’s a lot. It’s a full-time job and at the same time I’m writing freelance and doing a book. But I’m congenitally unable to do one thing at a time, so…
The first issue has been out for a few months now, are you happy with the response?
I’m happy we sold out, I’m happy that we were criticized for things I’d already been intensely critical of over the course of making it, because Berkeley and I worked on the first issue with a male publisher and a male photo editor who found excessive or trifling our concerns over the appalling lack of a) colour (as in diversity, but also as in colour—aren’t more colours more pleasurable to look at?) and b) cocks (as in men, I guess, but mostly as in cocks tbh). There was no one photo shoot we didn’t like, to be clear. It was the aggregate effect of all these slightly soft same-type white girls that came to us in the castings and so on.
The spring issue will be different from the first one in that way, then?
We’ll see… the spring issue isn’t finished yet. The mag is in its infancy! So we want to try all kinds of things. We’re pansexual, like the great Tamara Faith Berger’s story in Issue One. Pansexual babies.
So these pics: what’s so sexy about fingers and hands, to you?
No, I don’t want to explain! I make a magazine mostly about things I don’t want to explain. Intellectualizing sex can so often neuter (or spay?) it.
Moving away from intellectualizing then, is the website sort of… penile… in colour on purpose? i know that’s not everyone’s dick hue but to me as soon as it loaded i was like “DICKS”
Hahaha—yes, I mean I’m waiting for someone to do a piece on how our peach background is white-supremacist. And partly yes it’s that I’m white so that’s what i can’t help thinking of as “flesh tone” (remembering suddenly that I once did an Eye Weekly column on how racist the “nude” trend was….) but also, peach is just way easy on the eyes, and as much as it connotes “flesh tone” to white people, it also connotes innocence, so it makes for an instability I like. For a while i wanted a black background and white text, which seemed both XXX-rated and web 1.0 to me, but everyone was like “ummm what would Into the Gloss do?” and I had to concede it was a bad plan.
Haha, v. early web for something which feels simultaneously XXX-tremely of its time but also kind of vintage and throwback. It’s a really interesting vibe that’s happening over there.
God, I hope it’s interesting!
Are you worried about it?
Being interesting? Of course! It is a total myth that the internet has unlimited space. I don’t want to take up any of it without some good reasons. Luckily, I work with very smart people I trust. Ana has all kinds of energy, some of it psychic, and Raillan has a supremely quiet intelligence with great long(er) form instincts. He’s assigning essays now that I can’t wait to read, so I think others will feel the same.
You can pre-order the second issue of ADULT on Amazon. It will be carried at select Toronto bookstores.