Reba Maybury is launching Wet Satin Press this month – a publisher that promises to use a feminist lens to uncover the ebbs of fetishism for men on the internet
Hoping to explore sexuality with a fresh approach and a radical lens is Wet Satin Press, founded by Reba Maybury, editor-in-chief of Sang Bleu and the mind behind alternative newspaper Radical People. Maybury’s launching Wet Satin with five initial zines, exploring fetishism, male sexuality and how sexuality manifests itself online.
In the first installment, I’ve Seen More Plastics Than The Average Guy, Maybury profiles the owner of a strip club, in his fifties, who’s active on social media. He shares both memes about loving his daughter and snaps of porn subtitled with misogynistic text: pretty conflicting. To reclaim sexist language and oppressive imagery, she’s put together a zine of his online activity, harnessing his voice and repurposing it for her own agenda.
The Goddess and the Worm is a collection of illustrations by a man who she found on a BDSM site who acts as a slave. When he was unable to get her things from her Amazon wish list, she set up a personal list of novels that he could buy. There came his nickname: the book worm. As part of a humiliation fetish, he drew Maybury, his goddess, and himself as a worm.
The last three zines detail varying fetishes: a man’s fetish for women wearing office-appropriate heels submerged in water, a man’s fetish for wearing nylon on his face and a fetish for air bubbles in women’s dresses while they swim. They explore the secret desires of men let down by societal concepts of sexuality and capitalism, when sexuality should be, as Maybury says, “about self-exploration, pleasure and fun!”
If you’re in London tomorrow night, head down and show your support for Maybury at Dalston’s Vogue Fabrics (more information below) or keep an eye on Dazed next week for a preview of each of the five zines. For now, we speak with the editor and soon-to-be publisher to discuss the growing arc of Wet Satin Press.
“I’d like to be able to cross the boundary of how everyone but the hetero cis male feels they are allowed to discuss sex. We’re still made to feel embarrassed to talk about it, or that we’re being inappropriate or shocking or slutty or immature” – Reba Maybury
Where did the name come from?
Reba Maybury: The name Wet Satin came up in two different ways. Firstly, it's a 70s comic book by one of my heroes Melinda Gebbie, she's an excellent comic book artist who originated from the 70s San Fransisco scene and deals with notions of female sexuality in her work. She's a total trailblazer, some of her work to this day is still banned because of the 'content' that she dealt with, so what women actually think about!
And then there was another cross over with the name where it's kinda of fetish-y. Type in 'wet satin' to Google and you find a weird mix of semi-pornographic images of women wearing naff satin outfits sitting in the bath!
What was your motivation for starting Wet Satin?
Reba Maybury: Well, I think like everyone, I’m still trying to figure out what it is that I want to ‘be’ or what I want to ‘do’. I’ve been working as the editor of Sang Bleu for the last couple of years, I recently started teaching and I made a newspaper called Radical People earlier this year, but I’ve been thinking about where I want to go next with more precision. There are so many magazines out there now, and without sounding too pessimistic, a lot of them seem to be big wads of advertising, which in my opinion turn out to be a big waste of trees. I didn’t want to contribute to that by creating my own magazine. Starting your own magazine seems to be such a common occurrence now, I liked the idea of making a zine or publication every month or two under the umbrella of a publishing company that reflects defined themes instead.
I really enjoy making zines and wanted to create a format where I could make more of them without having to compromise myself because of advertising. This publishing company has been entirely funded by putting on a club night that I think is a far more healthy way of creating a project than getting commercial sponsorship.
How has your previous editorial experience influenced what you’re doing with Wet Satin?
Reba Maybury: I’ve been the editor of Sang Bleu for a couple of years and I recently started teaching politics to fashion students at Saint Martins. Sang Bleu has enabled me to spend a lot of time researching the depths of counter culture, it's definitely taught me alternative ways of looking at how culture evolves; understanding how emotion and inequality format radical forms of culture, unearthing authenticity within contemporary culture, it's been a space where I haven’t had to feel the pressures of pleasing corporate sponsors or people in the fashion industry which has been a huge privilege. But then again, I don’t think I would have been able to work in any other way!
And with teaching, I’m tutoring fashion students on the MA at Saint Martins, trying to help them understand the responsibility of the images that they are creating and their own personal politics. Delving into each student’s belief systems and how we can materialise that into their work, it’s been very inspiring to understand these different values and thought patterns!
What’s the relationship between sexuality and the internet?
Reba Maybury: Contemporary porn culture can now be seen as nothing but depressing, but with the enormity of the internet’s use of shared sex culture, positive aspects have emerged. We may think the abundance of flesh that technology offers would cater to everyone, but what happens when your fetish is so specific that it could only be created within your own imagination? The men anonymously interviewed in the fetish series have used an online image sharing website to share their individual desires.
In this case, the internet has enabled these men to explore their private or even secret desires with other like-minded fetishists and given them an objective to create towards. How often do we see affluent Western men so openly create and then share without the excess of ego or socially ingrained concepts of sexuality or capitalism infiltrating them?
The most special thing about these men is the fact that their fetish doesn’t exploit any other human beings. All gendered and sexual stereotypes disappear and we’re left with a utopian vision of harmless but fascinating eroticism, which make us question ourselves. These men are making images which present sexuality to us as something that it should be about – self exploration, pleasure and fun!
“Why can’t we also discuss how men’s sexuality makes us feel? Or just look at it from a non-gendered approach all together? Because if we started doing that more regularly, that’s when the real progression will start” – Reba Maybury
What would you like Wet Satin to achieve?
Reba Maybury: For this particular set of zines, considering that they explore male sexuality, I’d like to be able to cross the boundary of how everyone but the hetero cis male feels they are allowed to discuss sex. We’re still made to feel embarrassed to talk about it, or that we’re being inappropriate or shocking or slutty or immature. I’ve also noticed that most women who discuss sexuality do it from a feminine space. The woman’s experience, but why can’t we also discuss how men’s sexuality makes us feel? Or just look at it from a non-gendered approach all together? Because if we started doing that more regularly, that’s when the real progression will start.
If we really take a step back and think about how much our daily lives are controlled by a form of patriarchal desire it’s really quite shocking, we numb ourselves to it because it feels too overbearing.
However, in no way do I think that Wet Satin is about an 'us against them' mentality, it's more about looking an area of sexuality which is ignored because it has the privileged to do so. I want there to be a certain level of democracy to the readership because they all encompass that to an extent. We can all laugh at I've Seen More Plastics Than the Average Man. Wormy lives in a utopian matriarchy that knows no race or class issues, and the men interviewed in the fetish series reject the objectification of women within their desires and create images for pleasure rather than capital.
What are your thoughts on the publishing scene?
Reba Maybury: With the Internet, people’s attention spans are becoming smaller and smaller. I think that this is reflected in the publishing scene because people are feeling an urge to make their ideas more concrete. And it goes without saying that the more commercial the world becomes the more people are going to want to reclaim their own ideas and have control over them.
Where do you see the next set of zines going?
Reba Maybury: I’m really interested in investigating how sex and the Internet are merging together. Especially things like porn stars Instagram accounts – I have a feeling I might do something about those soon. I’m working on planning the next issue of Radical People too, I’m hopefully going to be working with a charity for it, because I’ve realised it's all very well dissecting counter culture and understanding that it comes from a place of compassion, or how we should embrace individuality and so on, but what’s the point if we can’t directly give back? And ultimately I’m a hugely privileged human and being complacent about that is awful. So working with charity through my own publishing is something that I want to spend far more time developing.
Check out Wet Satin's party at London's Vogue Fabrics Saturday 12 September 10pm-3am, and their launch at The Printed Matter New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 17-20 September. Follow Wet Satin Press on Instagram at @wetsatinpress for regular updates