It’s not too often that hand-drawn porn fanzines share space with antique art books and fancy academic titles, but that’s exactly what happens each year at the New York Art Book Fair. The tenth annual event took place over the weekend at MoMA PS1 in Queens, with 370 exhibitors from twenty states and twenty-nine countries peddled vintage erotica, limited edition hardcover monographs, and xeroxed drawings, and they’ve all gathered together at the museum to showcase the newest, or in some cases the rarest, items in their catalogs.
If you’re not familiar with New York, PS1 is actually a former school building, so there are lots of small rooms and there’s little sense of climate control. The throngs of people lend a damp quality to the air, and the sea of browsers make certain tables feel off-puttingly impossible to reach. Wall-unit air conditioners drip in the courtyard, while many exhibitors fans themselves with magazines, trying and failing not to sweat through their clothing.
Luckily there’s an incredibly wide range of stuff on display for those who have the stamina, ranging in price from about fifty cents to thousands and thousands of dollars. Since its very first year, the fair has placed a heavy emphasis on queer publishing and sexy books, and this year was no exception.
Here are some favorites (with the full confession that in roughly four hours of looking I only made it through about half of the show):
Montreal’s B&D Press make queer zines on subjects ranging from Brazil’s travesti population to Eloisa Aquino’s long-running series The Life and Times of Butch Dykes, which highlights lesbian mavericks from Martina Navratilova to Claude Cahun.
Documentary photos from Rome’s hardcore music scene join found Polaroids of small dogs at the table shared by RawRaw, an Italian publishing house focused on young European photographers, and The Art Markets, a Milanese contemporary art space.
Zheng Dali’s A Second History shows how heavily photographs could be manipulated before Photoshop, with unaltered original photos of Mao Tse-tung shown side by side with heavily altered versions photos that ran in Chinese newspapers during Chairman Mao’s regine (1949-1976). Politicians were cut out of group shots, laborers were removed to make agrarian life seem more ideal, and in several photos the Chairman was even given more hair. It’s the seventh edition in the Lynn Valley series from Vancouver’s Presentation House Gallery.
Brooklyn screenprinters Kayrock have one of the most colorful booths at the show, with pop culture mashups including Justin Hager‘s Jay Z Salinger t-shirt and a Missy Elliott Smith poster. The Bert Ernie Bernie t-shirts were designed by Daniel Davidson in a limited edition of sixty. All proceeds from that shirt are being donated to the Sanders campaign.
South Carolina artist Melinda Melmoth exhibited quite a range of her own fanzines, including a six-part True Blood tribute and also a zine depicting all the naked scenes from HBO’s classic prison drama Oz.
When she was a child, Chi Tsai Ni’s father used to seduce her mother by suggestively posing body pillows. She asked him to reproduce these pillow sculptures for her project Topology In Bed. Meanwhile, Chihoi’s Pink Freud features drawn scenes from porn movies, but the book is sealed shut on three out of four sides, meaning that you’ll have to work to get it open. Both excellent titles are available from Taiwanese publisher nos:books.
The Posters is less than a year old, but the company — they make posters, if their name wasn’t a giveaway — has already gotten a ton of press for their limited-edition lithographs, each of which are sold for a flat fee of $55. Highlights include Sara Vanderbeek’s Roman Women I, Greg Bogin’s Happier Place, and Greg Hundlin’s Smiths-quoting Oh I Don’t Know (pictured here from left to right). They’ve even done a Tom of Finland poster.
Handkerchiefs, earrings, and dungeon accessories: in 1977, Hal Fischer produced Gay Semiotics, a text and photo project that explained the codes of gay male lifestyles in San Francisco. Earlier this year, Cherry and Martin produced a second edition of Fischer’s book, and an entire room of the fair was given to an exhibit of the artist’s amazing photographs.
Pupa Press is a Spanish-Chilean publisher of gay zines that sell for just a couple of dollars each. Collectors will be hard-pressed not to get the whole collection at once, though, since the monochrome covers look so nice together. Billy Agnes’s Boy Down features poems and essays about queer leather culture, while other selections feature fiction and photography.
New York-based photographer Jan Wandrag is selling his Jesus Loves Homophobic Bigots t-shirts for one week only, and timed the release to coincide with the fair. They can be ordered through his website but only through this afternoon.
Finally, here’s what I came home with…
Clockwise from 12:00 – Hal Fischer’s Gay Semiotics, the literary issue of transman magazine Original Plumbing, Michael Wynne‘s The Bathhouse Hornbook, Pegacorn Press‘s vintage fetish erotica and Carolyn Paquita’s Lesbian Lexicon, the latest issue of Montreal-based Crooked Fagazine, and a t-shirt from j. morrison’s Homocats.
(all images by the author)