The Dutch magazine Extra Extra brings back eroticism to its essence. Offering lusty adventures across the world through great tales, delicious encounters and sensual avant garde art. Interview with editor in chief, Samira Ben Laloua.
Baron: What’s the story behind Extra Extra?
Samira Ben Laloua: Maybe the first idea was already planted years and years ago.
The first time I read about Stendhalismo (the wow effect) and its story, which tells the tale of how 19th century French author Stendhal was stricken by the beauty of Florence’s Basilica of Santa Croce. He fell into ecstasy, couldn’t walk and literally suffered from all the beauty surrounding him.... I have also been overwhelmed by travel experiences and idiosyncrasies of the cities I was visiting. It never struck me as hard as it did Stendhal, but that way of losing yourself was very appealing. Simultaneously, as a designer – specialized in print – iconic publications like Interview Magazine’s pieces with Andy Warhol and the Whole Earth Catalogue with Stewart Brand have always entertained my fascination. How print can be utilized to give community some place. I started to realize how little publications tantalize the senses, advocating intimacy in a tender and generous way. The shift of erotic press to the Internet in the late '90s and early Naughties made erotic content somehow grow harder, bolder and blunter. Sexual transgression has become a means to the same goal.
Yet sexual openness – call it transgression if you will - used to have certain cultural aspirations that were explored in manifold ways. As a way to support open-mindedness, curiosity and enjoyment, I decided, together with a small team of international editors, to start Extra Extra.
B.: How does that translate to an editorial policy?
S. B. L.:Extra Extra is a visually rich magazine with broad interests. Photography and contributions from remarkable contemporary artists form the skin of the magazine. In its contents the magazine focuses on eroticism by presenting a variety of interviews with cultural producers; these interviews form the magazine’s spine. These conversations take place between filmmakers, choreographers, architects, writers, actors and musicians, and they candidly talk about the sensuous elements of their work. Extra Extra titillates its readers’ curiosity in a sometimes naughty, but always stylish, way.
We keep to this statement to introduce the issue to a wider audience:
Extra Extra is a magazine taking you to a realm of intimate city experiences. Extra Extra is a creative dream of city life where art, fashion, music, film, writing, and food touch upon our daily reveries through the inner city. The magazine celebrates the erotic tones of creative endeavors, with a witty and sophisticated eye. Extra Extra engages in the sexy with class, but never confuses classy with sex.
Our mission? Welcoming people from all walks of life to shake off their inhibitions, identify the erotic tones in their urban surroundings and explore and celebrate these with us.
B.: Why choose print? What kind of paper do you use and why?
S. B. L.: We just love print! It is something you take along with you and cherish. A substantial part of the magazine is dedicated to photography and art. We think viewing these works on paper offers enjoyment. Especially when discussing sensuality, the tactility of a physical magazine is important. We like the idea of our readers touching our images.
We use an uncoated paper – which is a reference to the Whole Earth Catalogue. The cover is printed on Pretex paper, to give the issue an exclusive feel. The typography is inspired by examples from the late '70s and early '80s, but I also try to give it a contemporary feel, something that sits in between or outside of time.
B.: What has been the readers’ response?
S. B. L.: The response has been great. We have received lovely mails and even postcards from New York, Osaka and Paris – that is just really touching. And of course it is really rewarding when you can hand a copy to a legend like AA Bronson and see the twinkle in his eye! We also featured in several blogs, newspapers and magazines. Requests for interviews and conference presences are rising – so those are all very good indicators that we have touched a certain nerve... We find this all very encouraging.
B.: Good print mags get a lot of love, but this isn’t always reflected in sales or advertising. How are your sales? What is your advertising philosophy?
S. B. L.: It’s true. It is hard. And we can still manage. We started with advertisers amongst a circle of relations that is closer to us. We are now working on expanding to quality brands in retail and fashion, hotels and cuisine. We feel we have a classy allure that suits their brands and would benefit them. We strongly believe advertising is a game that goes both ways, we are not merely selling space for money – nor is the advertiser only interested in how many people see their ad, rather than who will see their advertisement. Visually, the ads can benefit from the context. Advertising with Extra Extra shows what you are about, and what you support; we would state this as “curiosity, vulnerability, freedom, thought, intelligence and attractiveness”.
B.: Can you give us a tour of Rotterdam's niche media scene?
S. B. L.: Oh we love Bookshop van Gennep, a beautiful independent bookshop in the center of the city. Damage Playground is a great store with a small selection of special magazines. Club Donny also had its roots in Rotterdam. WORM is unique, mixing music, a club scene, film – they have a small worthwhile bookshop, a little surprise.
I admire the work of the Rotterdam based design studio 75b. But you know, the Netherlands is so small, just a 40 minute train ride away you will find San Serriffe – a small but terrific art bookshop in Amsterdam. ROMA publications creates a great variety of artist and art books, the office of Fantastic Man is based in Amsterdam and it’s the hometown of Experimental Jetset.
B.: Any upcoming projects?
S. B. L.: We are currently working on a series of live events to expand the content of the magazines under the title A Night with Extra Extra. These evenings – or rather nights, the planned time frame is from dusk till dawn – will take place in different cities, including interviews, readings, film screenings – intermixed with culinary and musical intermezzo's. It will take a while to realize this – but we very much look forward to it.