Despite a larger sense of recognition for sex positivity, acceptance of the female body and more openness surrounding our private lives, we’re still reluctant to accept the grossness of sex itself. After wasting too many years as teenagers feeling ashamed of their own bodies, editor Luisa Le Voguer Couyet and photographer Scarlett Carlos Clarke are tackling taboos surrounding our sex lives for the second instalment of Hate zine, following on from the sell-out success of the first issue.
Tackling the homogeneity of mainstream media, challenging the current government and featuring bodies soaked in baked beans, grassy boobs, bums and yolk-filled condoms, the contributors for this issue read like a who’s-who of current photography talent. Featuring work by Maisie Cousins, Stephanie Wilson, and a cover shot by Martin Parr, Le Voguer Couyet and Carlos Clarke use Hate as a medium to tackle inequality and underrepresentation in the wider publishing community.
Ahead of their second zine launch, we speak to Le Voguer Couyet and Carlos Clarke to discuss the importance of self-publishing, combatting classism in the creative industries and why being grossed out is completely normal.
Martin Parr shot the cover for this issue, how did he become involved?
Scarlett Carlos Clarke: I contacted him and he was up for contributing! Our covers never really have any relevance to the content but he said I could pick something out of a bunch of images he had and this image actually seemed very appropriate.
You’ve chosen to highlight the unpolished, arguably more gross, aspects of sex inside this issue, why is this?
Luisa Le Voguer Couyet: Personally, I’m bored of the satin-sheet, clean-shaven, lacy underwear, Hollywood porn depiction of sex. We all expel fluid from various orifices, we shit and piss and bleed and grow hair. It shouldn’t be something that is gross, and we should not be ashamed to talk candidly about sex. If we were more open as a society it would be a positive thing. I wasted too many years as a teenager and young adult feeling ashamed of things, life is too short, there are more productive things to worry about in my opinion.
“Art, music, fashion – anything which is now classed as a ‘creative industry’ – has been completely taken over by those who can afford to participate. And by participate, I mean study, work within and control what is produced”– Luisa Le Voguer Couyet
Scarlett Carlos Clarke: Porn can give some young women a totally warped idea of sex. I know girls who literally scrub every inch of their body eliminating smells and hair but this is one of the main reasons a person can be attracted to you in the first place. For me, food and sex are two major pleasures in life, so I think with the food porn images I was trying to suggest sex without actually having to show people fucking. It was really important for the photography to be visually pleasing, tactile and somewhat grotesque because as humans we need to be slightly grossed out, it’s normal.
Why are you print only?
Scarlett Carlos Clarke: Everything’s so instant now, I just think it feels more special keeping it as print. It feels more like a moment in time and I hope people will collect them and be able to look back at them.
Luisa Le Voguer Couyet: I have always been more excited to have a piece of work published in print as opposed to online. For me, it feels more authentic and special. I like to collect bits of paper, and you can’t do that online.
What does self-publishing offer as an outlet that mainstream media does not?
Luisa Le Voguer Couyet: Self-publishing can be used to regain control of an individual’s voice, and can go some way to readdressing the balance between big corporations and marginalised voices. Art, music, fashion – anything which is now classed as a ‘creative industry’ – has been completely taken over by those who can afford to participate. And by participate, I mean study, work within and control what is produced. I think that is dangerous. A lot of the time it is incredibly hard to find the self-belief to create, let alone if you cannot afford the time or the resources you need. It isn’t fair, a lot of people are left out, and it really angers me.
Scarlett Carlos Clarke: Self-publishing has created platforms for people to be able to voice their ideas freely. Anyone can self-publish in zine form, you are working for yourself and you can say what you want. There are no rules, so in that sense I guess it is inherently political.
Luisa Le Voguer Couyet: I like to choose a wide range of people, it’s about getting as many voices out there as possible. There are loads of people doing incredible things that only exist for one reason or another in very small circles, so I want to feature and write about people that may not appear in the ‘mainstream’.
“I want to promote the idea that supporting each other is paramount, that creativity is a way to combat a cruel system of inequality, and that we should all be questioning the status-quo”– Luisa Le Voguer Couyet
Scarlett Carlos Clarke: The photographers I choose are either people I’ve met or people I meet online. Instagram has been really helpful in finding interesting people from all over the place. I think it's really important to have diversity and between the two of us I feel like we work well at finding that balance.
Would you consider Hate a political outlet?
Luisa Le Voguer Couyet: I have a political standpoint, and I am 50 per cent of Hate. I thoroughly disagree with the current government in the UK, I hate them, I think we should abolish the monarchy; the whole establishment needs to go! I would not claim that Hate is an entirely political publication, though I do try to weave my political sentiment into it through interviews and through the people who contribute. I want to promote the idea that supporting each other is paramount, that creativity is a way to combat a cruel system of inequality, and that we should all be questioning the status-quo.
Similarly, you’re both proud feminists – but is Hate a feminist zine by definition?
Luisa Le Voguer Couyet: I am a feminist, and I fight for women’s rights and the rights of the marginalized. Sometimes I wonder if it is productive to label everything women do independently as ‘feminist’. Should it matter that we are women, why does it need to be pointed out? It is also important to remember that being female does not automatically qualify you as a feminist. There are misogynistic women, too. I want Hate to represent my own beliefs, that all people should be treated equally, and feminism is a part of combating oppression.
It’s been seven months since the first instalment of the zine, what can we expect this time around?
Luisa Le Voguer Couyet: I am really happy with the interviews in this issue, I feel like collectively they cover some important points regarding women’s issues, sex, freedom, and social justice. I also like ‘Score’, because the story behind it is kind of funny. I was working at a bar and a guy asked for my number, I said he could have it if he gave me twenty quid – as a joke! – so he wrote it down on this note, and then ripped it in half. He said I could ‘have the other half’ when I met up with him. I thought it was quite pathetic.
Scarlett Carlos Clarke: I love Stephanie Sarley’s illustration Sex On The Beach and the Spawn series shot by Steph Wilson. I also love the Gashland interview.
What’s the one message you want readers to take away from this issue?
Luisa Le Voguer Couyet: Sex is sex – don’t give other people a hard time about their choices.
Scarlett Carlos Clarke: Enjoy your bodies, don’t endure them!
Hate zine issue two launches 20, April 2016 at the Windmill in Brixton – more info here
Follow Ione Gamble on Twitter here @ionegamble