The primal power of Suspira’s Fetish issue

by Karl Smith in December 2018
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Few magazines can truly claim to be vital. Suspira, however, is an exception. Winner of Launch of the Year at the Stack Awards 2018, the magazine is required reading: not only for horror fans, but also for anyone living through our politically fraught times.

While its first issue focused on the concept of monsters both real and imaginary, on “embracing our otherness and shadow Self,” as editor Valentina Medina puts it, Suspira‘s second offering takes a more bodily approach. Further embracing its darkly-necessary horror/feminism axis, the Fetish issue explores “the lingering fear that lives within most women and femme-identifying people.”

With the Fetish issue creeping into stores this week (including our own), from its “venus flytrap” cover to the circumstances that make the magazine so important, we asked Valentina to talk us through the sophomore Suspira.


1. Fuck fear!

Our Fetish Issue looks into the lingering fear that lives within most women and femme-identifying people. The fear that our body is not our own and that openly enjoying sex can serve as an excuse to invade our space. In this issue we dismantle how society has systematically planted those seeds of fear within us out of its own angst.

Society is terrified of feral female sexuality and autonomy, and for decades horror films have done a great job at reflecting this. Unlike any other genre, it has been able to depict this vicious cycle that is as old as humanity itself. With our Fetish Issue we face that fear and hope to get a step closer towards breaking that cycle.

2. Primal power

The female body and sexuality are incredibly powerful. In my opinion, a woman that is fully in tune with her sexuality, is fully in tune with her primal power, that inner self that follows natural impulses and intuition. That power equals freedom and finding our way back to it is an act of rebellion in itself. Kristen J. Sollée puts it quite well in our interview piece Blood Sugar Sex Magick, “When you’re living under capitalism, Christian patriarchy, white supremacy, or any oppressive system, any time you make a choice to experience pleasure for pleasure’s sake is pretty radical.”

We felt this issue needed to be filled with radical, primal and powerful women such as sex goddess Lilith, Maila Nurmi as Vampira, fetish model Marie Devilreux, author Kristen J. Sollée, Yeha Leung (Creepyyeha) and many more.

3. Dread and desire

Exploitation films from 1960s/70s like Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, I Spit On Your Grave, Something Weird etc. were a big inspiration for this issue. While the vibe and characters of these films have had an empowering effect on me personally, I’m also aware that some depictions can be quite questionable. Although censorship rules relaxed during the sexual revolution of the time, the over-sexualising of women in cinema and popular culture was also a push to systematically objectify and dehumanize them.

Through all this, the horror genre manages to be both problematic and progressive at the same time. It’s incredibly fascinating to analyse the complex relationship that exists between horror and sex. So depicting this friction between the two has been a key aspect of our Fetish Issue.

4. Covet your kinks

While the Monster Issue was about embracing our otherness and shadow Self, the Fetish Issue is about embracing a different side of us that often lives hidden in the closet of unexpressed kinks. We are all sexual beings and in a way I think we all are slightly perverted. Some are just more honest about it than others. In our piece Slippery When Wet, J. Simpson looks at the surge in popularity of horror porn and the psychology behind the appeal of the forbidden.

This issue is the perfect invitation to leave all inhibitions at the door and be open to views that may not always be your own but may touch something unexpected within you. As J. puts it, “What you find there will most likely frighten, sicken, and shock you. You may be a little disgusted with yourself. It might raise more than hard and uncomfortable questions. But you will be stronger for it – knowing yourself, your fears and desires more thoroughly, even if they’re forbidden.”

5. Gorgeously gruesome

No matter how low budget and ridiculous a 1960s/70s horror or exploitation film was, there is something captivating and very real in the tactile roughness of their aesthetic. Just take Ed Wood’s Orgy of the Dead. By combining analog photography and illustration with the texture of our Holmen paper, we were able to translate this captivating, campy feel into print. I’m a big Russ Meyer fan, so the artwork for his films definitely influenced our colour palette – the stark black and white stands in contrast to an eye-popping cherry red.

Beyond this inspiration, it was clear we wanted to work with an accent colour that instantly triggered the visceral emotions of fear and arousal. From warning of danger and a trail of blood to a show stopping red lip, followed by a lick of the tongue – horror and sex are never far apart. But the cherry on top is definitely the high lustre cover with an undeniable (and very intentional) latex feel to it – it’s the perfect Venus Flytrap!

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