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Math Magazine: A playful & provocative print quarterly for adults

Math Magazine: A playful & provocative print quarterly for adults

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Proudly made in Brooklyn, Math magazine is a provocative and sexy print quarterly for adults that brings a powerful message of sensual pleasure between the hands. The celebration of sensuality and kinks are gathered in a well-packaged canvas where each readers will find his/her lusty path. Interview with editor-in-Chief MacKenzie Peck.

Can you tell us about your magazine?

Math Magazine is a print quarterly dedicated to redefining pornography. We are headquartered in Brooklyn with staff located all over the country and contributors all over the world.

Call us beautiful, call us sexy, and say we are smart but please don’t call Math Magazine erotica. Our publication opens up the conversation for the unnameable and indefinable sexual spheres that we all occupy. Math Magazine promotes feminist, queer, and sex-positive ideals through joy, beauty, and, above all else, arousal. Our team, contributors and customers are confident and intelligent people exploring their sexual and visual curiosities.

The journey in making this magazine began after I realized that making art was too solitary of a practice to be rewarding or sustainable for me. I remember staying up late one night, in a peculiar manic mood, collaging and writing the words: “I keep thinking about becoming bigger than my body.” In that moment I was realizing that I needed to create something with larger impact and greater inclusiveness than my past endeavours as an artist.

I was also strongly influenced by my ex-husband, who introduced me to two important principles: the power of good design and the limitlessness of an entrepreneurial spirit. After bouncing from idea to idea, I’m relieved to have landed on a compelling challenge.

And editorialwise?

The Math Mag origin story takes place in the uninhibited and chemically enhanced setting of a Baltimore house party where I was swept away by a group heading up to a bedroom. I watched as they played dress-up with a lighthearted and playful sensuality I had never seen before. It was beautiful, euphoric, and erotic. My next thought was to make a porn magazine so that I could live in that feeling forever. We’ve since grown to explore a compelling range of sensations, ideas and questions.

Part and parcel to the Math Magazine origin story is the reasoning behind our name and iconic cover. I am grateful to Melbourne-based designer Angelina Vierneza for working with me on the creation of the Math Magazine logo. We’ve created an identity that is smart, sexy, and timeless.

The cover is meant to look like an academic journal. I took inspiration from textbooks and an obscure moment in pornography when magazines mimicked ethnographic studies or medical research journals. This gives readers the ability to inconspicuously look at pornography—in public; a very erotic proposition that feels riskier than using an e-reader or phone.

My primary mission is to turn people on. Beyond this, I am working to push important social and cultural changes while remaining joyfully inclusive. Some of these ideals include:

  • Reflect the real diversity of bodies and desires of our time
  • Promote sex-positivity, feminist values, and the spectrum of gender
  • Redefine pornography through consent-driven collaboration and radical transparency

On the Math editorial team, I have two contributing editors who help me from afar. Amanda is based in Vermont, where she doesn’t have Internet in her home and her cell phone is circa 1995. She has been vital in the editing process and is leading the creative direction for written elements in Math Magazine. She is a muse and a poet who is deeply in touch with the English language and the complexities of human desire.

A new addition to the Math Magazine team is Anya. She just moved to Minneapolis and will be working to bring fresh visuals to every issue. I’ve charged her with finding pornography that we’ve never seen, or at least aren’t seeing enough of in mainstream media. We want to be the answer to desires that you didn’t know you had until seeing Math.

I am very excited about the challenge of creating printed porn. The business of turning people on is really complex. I sit across from people on the subway and wonder how I could give them a boner or make them wet just with a series of images or words. It’s really powerful if you think about it: To compel someone to have a bodily reaction to what you’ve made. And to be able to do that with printed matter, in this era of total access and exposure, is a mission I’m thrilled to take on.

Tell us more about yourself:

Right now, the first line of my OKCupid profile reads, “My life revolves around: working hard to make my ideas a reality, connecting with people through collaboration, keeping an inconsistent schedule, and maintaining intensely meaningful relationships of every variety.”

Before moving to Bushwick, I lived in Connecticut, South Carolina, Tennessee, Berlin, and Baltimore, where I graduated from The Maryland Institute College of Art. My travels mirrored my searching. I’ve been looking for stillness in my career, relationships, and home. I’m optimistic that I’ve found it in Brooklyn.

I’m an obsessive, driven, high-energy person. I recently had an aura photo taken at a place in Chinatown and it was almost completely covered in this swath of red, not unlike our magazine cover, actually. Red is all about intensity, action, passion, and base desires — there isn’t anything chill about red and I’m learning how to best harness that power.

Why choose print? What kind of paper do you use and why? What about typography? 

The choice to do print seemed as obvious and natural as the quick decision to make a dirty mag. I’ve been learning about the history of American pornography and have bittersweet feelings for the era of Playboy and Esquire. There is so much unexplored territory. We are experiencing a cultural moment where American feminism and sexual liberalism seem to be reaching a critical mass. Math Magazine is giving voice to this important shift in popular concepts of sexuality and gender.

When I think of skin rags, I think of glossy paper. Slick paper can be a bit liquid-resistant, if you know what I mean? Glossy is sexy and beautiful while being a little cheeky. The choice comes out of respect for our forbearers and a desire to resurrect the American porn magazine.

When it comes to the layout and typesetting, I rely on our designer OneSkinnyJ. He chose National because it is a large type family that allows for a wide range of variance while utilizing the humanist qualities that make the face stand out. It’s a simple sans-serif with a lot of nuance and character.

Our design process begins with a mock-up that I put together as content comes in and inspiration strikes. I put a lot of thought into the experience of paging through and how each section relates to the next. However, I’ve noticed that when someone looks through a magazine for the first time it is done in reverse. This makes me kind of crazy, yet, I do it, too! Maybe we should start laying out the magazine in reverse for an easy, one-handed page flow? Just kidding.

How’s the public response?

The public response has been astounding. Here’s an abstract way to describe the way I feel about it: I imagine that I’m standing at the edge of a lake. The water is smooth. I throw a small pebble as far as I can and now I’m getting to see the ripples make their way back to me. And the next issue is another stone. The ripples are bouncing off of one another and new projects are manifesting from new connections. It’s surprising to see the new friendships, opportunities, and experiences that continue to come from this work.

Disappointed mathematicians aside, the response to Math Magazine has been very positive. I’ve seen eyes light up and interests piqued right before my eyes. Porn for smart people, porn for thoughtful people, porn for people who want to see something different, something beautiful. And even when folks aren’t necessarily turned on by the content, they want to support the mission. They hear the story and see something necessary.

I’ve collected some nice things people have said about Math Magazine. Here are just a few. More  can be found under the “Press” section of our website.

Amy in Baltimore, Maryland told us, “You have done a splendid job creating something thoughtful, tasteful, sexy, naughty, and smart. That is no easy task.”

Dr. Michael Aaron in New York says, “Math Magazine provides the sophisticated perspective on kink, sexuality, and porn that is needed right now. It’s raunchy in a package of intelligence, like The New Yorker but with porn.”

Good print mags get a lot of love that doesn’t always translate to sales or advertising. How are the sales? Advertising wise, do you have a traditional approach of selling an ad page or more of a brand ad approach? 

My methodology has been to maintain slow growth while establishing strong foundations. Sales are great yet our print runs are small. Our distribution is gradually growing in tandem with our increasing readership. The coolest thing about being small (and no one really paying attention to us yet) is that I can learn and figure stuff out without risking much. I can, and have, messed up a bunch and it hasn’t really impacted us, while the lessons have been extremely valuable. In this way, I am using the fact that we are young as a strength rather than a weakness.

What are your upcoming projects?

There’s always the next issue of Math Magazine on the horizon, another sexy Brooklyn party to be had! Ever since our Issue One launch party, there has been a strong interest in there being more Math Magazine events and I look forward to seeing where some new conversations and collaborations take us. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter to stay in the loop!