A note - Ravenswing DIY Fair, of which this blog is a subsidiary, is taking place Sunday, May 27th in Ottawa. To register to table, you can use this form. For more information, email email@example.com.
Various contributors, ed. Natalie and Kim
27 pg. at half-legal size
Available for $3 through Etsy
There’s a lot of situations in this big old world that can be awkward— mostly ones where possibilities are opening up, nobody is quite sure of the rules, or when someone starts to cry while you are doing sex with them. Sex and sex-type situations are a fertile breeding ground (if you will) for uncomfortable realizations, weird body stuff, and myriad other types of awkwardness.
Whether you’re with a long-established partner or some foxy lady or fellow you just this moment met, sex is often full of surprises, whether good, bad, or just plain awkward.
So you see where I am going with this. Awkward Sex is a compilation of people’s awkward sex stories. The contributors all identify as women, from various parts of the world, some queer and some straight, and ranging in age from 18 to 42.
While lots of the tales are from adulthood, there is a particular wealth of awkward sex stories from contributors’ teen years, which is little surprise, since basically every thing a teenager does is awkward. In one incredibly poignant vignette (perhaps my favourite in the zine), S.L. Perkins, an 18 year old from Alaska, writes about telling her dad she was going out to play Dungeons and Dragons, but instead making a gentle, awkward attempt to lose her virginity to her boyfriend.
The editors, Natalie and Kim, write in the introduction that they had initially thought that the zine would wind up being “full of physical slapstick” and were surprised by the extent to which their topic lent itself to “poignant, emotionally comples stories of awkward sex”. But don’t worry, there’s still lots of slapstick.
Since tragicomedy is by far my favourite mode, I loved this collection of glimpses into people’s moments of vulnerability, embarassment, and self-realization, and how they also involved Michael Jackson’s death, fancy olive oil, a half-eaten bag of Doritos, a glittery strap-on, and a Spiderman mask, though not all at once. There are also comics about BDSM in Finnish, and gee, if you could ask for more than that, you are plain greedy.
Lots of interesting ground is covered. Kim Creasap, one of the zine’s editors, had wondered “how women in the sex industry deal with awkward sex when the sex is part of their jobs”. She interviews Cameryn Moore, a phone sex operator who also wrote and performs a one-woman show about her job. Sadly, the interview was only two pages long, and left me wanting to know more.
As some contributors note, awkward sex is not just a pitfall to be avoided, à la Seventeen Magazine, but something that strikes at or near the heart of what sex, or at least sex worth having, is all about: moments of vulnerability and surprise and possibility with someone. The contributors to Awkward Sex have found these titular (giggle giggle) moments to be a source of crucial insight into themselves and what they do and don’t want.
They are also still looking for submissions (this time from contributors of any gender) for a second issue, so if you are ready to fess up, they would like to hear from you! Check the Awkward Sex Zine blog for more information.
- Lily Pepper