'Erotic Review' back to titillate – and educate

After years in hibernation, the magazine is relaunched with the promise of fine writing – and lots of sex. Simon Tait reports

It is, depending on your viewpoint, either filth for the middle classes or the nation's only genuinely intelligent journal of eroticism. It has been out of the limelight for a while, but now The Erotic Review is back, aiming to push back the boundaries of censorship.

In its heyday the review attracted some of the world's finest writers, including Sarah Waters, DBC Pierre, Helen Walsh, Auberon Waugh, Helen Cross, Kathy Lette and Miranda Seymour.

Now, Kate Copstick, the review's new owner, is promising that fine writing will once again underpin sex and sensuality: "The Erotic Review has to be about two things – great writing, which is witty, funny, intelligent, knowledgeable – and sex."

The magazine relaunches this month – its 100th edition. It celebrates a coup in that having previously always been a subscription-only title, it will now go on sale in Borders bookshops, soon to be followed by the Waterstone's chain, as well as in Harmony sex shops.

Copstick, a 48-year-old former journalist, is determined that the relaunched magazine will be unequivocal. It will be about: "Sex. Not love, not relationships. It's for people who have a genuine, visceral appreciation of sex qua sex." She added that it will be devoted to "sex for the connoisseur, and more about really good writing than anything".

The Erotic Review first emerged in 1995 as the newsletter of the Erotic Print Society, run by Jamie Maclean and Tim Hobart. Two years later Rowan Pelling, a former IoS columnist, became editor and transformed it from a 16-page club quarterly to a glossy monthly with a circulation of more than 30,000.

In 2001 the society went through financial difficulties and Pelling bought the magazine for just £1. Three years later she sold it on to the publisher Felix Dennis, who moved it to Surrey. It was sold again but by this time Pelling and her writers had gone and the magazine had changed from an erotic literary journal to a lads' magazine, and circulation had dropped to a few hundred. It foundered after only four issues. In 2007 the title was offered back to Maclean.

Copstick, having previously written for the ER, felt it deserved to live: "It needed an injection of funds, I had some put by, and so I bought it for £10,000. Jamie was muttering about having a female editor again because of the publicity, but The Erotic Review almost drowned in oestrogen once and I'm not going to let that happen." She claimed women seldom write well about sex because "they have an agenda, they complicate sex, they make layers, it's conditional. And they lie as well." Nevertheless, there will be women writing in the relaunch edition, including Pelling and Copstick.

The publisher/proprietor is almost uniquely well qualified to be the publisher of the new ER. Born in Paisley, Renfrewshire, she studied jurisprudence at Glasgow University, though she has never practised law. Instead she has been an actress, stand-up comedian, journalist, children's TV presenter – "you should see what went on, off-camera, on Playschool: very educational" – television producer and newspaper columnist.

At last year's Edinburgh Fringe she volunteered to appear on stage with Devon, a dancer who paints pictures by squirting paint from her bottom. Copstick ended up with a face full of blue paint, to wild applause and incredulous headlines. "It wasn't pornographic," she said. "It wasn't even sexy, it was... vaudeville."

As if this were not enough, she is also the announcement voice at Fort William railway station. She is joyously bisexual and the author of several instructional books about sex.

Philanthropy brought her to 11 Downing Street and a reception for Waverley, the HIV charity of which she is a patron. She is also vice-chair of CWAC, the Children With Aids Charity, and today she is in Kenya where Aids/HIV is rife. There, Copstick has taken her brief beyond CWAC's, which was to teach women about contraception.

"The traditional form of contraception there seems to be death of the mother from exhaustion," she says. She is now using her own resources to help prostitutes make a living in other ways. Next month her website Mama Biashara (Business Mother) goes online, selling craftwork made by HIV-infected women whom she has set up in business. She makes half a dozen visits there a year, laden with contraceptives donated by Durex.

What she sees there, she says, is the ugly side of sex, the result of local ignorance and international indifference, where sex has become a matter of life and death. Here, she hopes to enlighten people about sex in terms a world away from The Erotic Review.

"It's juvenile, pathetic, the way we treat sex," she said. "The head of commissioning at Virgin Media wrote to me [she'd pitched on behalf of her Bobby's Girl Productions for a documentary about porn holidays] that 'we are no longer commissioning any s** themed programmes – we can't even write the word'. What I want is for people to have a bit of intelligent respect for sex. That's all."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

Guru Careers: Print Project Manager

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Print Project Manager is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living