Ivy League colleges lead boom in student-run porn magazines

Porn magazines produced by and for students are proliferating on American campuses, shattering the common perception that universities in the US are bastions of political correctness.

Porn magazines produced by and for students are proliferating on American campuses, shattering the common perception that universities in the US are bastions of political correctness.

From Harvard to Yale, the University of Chicago to the University of New Hampshire, some of the nation's most august institutions of learning are home to sexually explicit periodicals - and in most cases the editors are female.

At least 10 American universities now have their own student-run erotic magazines, featuring sex advice, fiction and nude photo-spreads of ordinary students.

Dozens more host campus sponsored "sex events", such as naked parties at Yale, something called the Condom Olympics, part of "sex week" at Tufts University, and National Outdoor Intercourse Day at Western Washington University, which teaches students about the legal repercussions of having sex outdoors.

If there is any political correctness about this movement, it is in the insistence on equal opportunities for gay and straight erotica.

The editors also claim they are exercising their First Amendment right to free speech, although that does not exclude typical undergraduate pomposity.

University of Chicago's Vita Excolatur (Latin for "life enriched"), for example, combines photographs of half-naked gay couples in the library and an article on "How to be naked and look great doing it" with features on the Freudian analysis of the penis and "Psychoanalyse This: Sexual Overcoding and Discursive Limitation".

H-Bomb, published at Harvard, features poetry and articles on psychoanalytic theory and French structuralism alongside photographs of students with no clothes on.

Newer entrants to the market acknowledge the pioneering role of Squirm: The Art of Campus Sex, started six years ago at Vassar - now co-educational, but once the leading all-female university in the US.

Boink: The College Guide to Carnal Knowledge, launched at Boston University in February, is the latest in the genre, and arguably the most explicit.

Alecia Oleyourryk, co-founder and editor in chief of Boink, is not afraid to call her magazine pornography or to pose semi-naked on the cover.

"Our magazine is porn," she said. "It's meant to arouse, it's meant to excite." It might also be meant to make money: the first issue sold 10,000 copies at $8 (£4.20) a time.

H-Bomb's co-founders, Katharina Cieplak-von Baldegg and Camilla Hardy, distributed 4,000 free copies to Harvard students, and sold 3,000 more off-campus for $5 (£2.60) each.

Most of the universities' administrations do not officially approve of student-run sex magazines, though some receive an element of funding in the name of free speech. Student reaction has been mixed. James Weight, 21, posed nude for Boink because he thought the magazine was "a fresh look at the way in which college students deal with sex in their environment".

"I've received some playful chiding from friends but nothing serious," he said.

At Harvard, Kathryn Renton said H-Bomb was "a symptom of a general blasé attitude about sex shielding covert titillation", while Jason West was blunter. The magazine, he said, served "perverts just wanting to peek at naked college students".

Christopher Anderson, Boink's 38-year-old co-founder, photographed student models for his magazine and H-Bomb with the hope, he claims, of advancing a more "European" attitude towards sex in America.

"There is nothing shameful about nudity or sexuality," he said. "Boston has these puritanical roots where anything related to sex becomes taboo." He and Ms Oleyourryk had to find a printer in Canada for Boink, after six local companies turned it down. The US, Mr Anderson complained, "is either much more conservative or much more hypocritical".

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