Do you have nerve?

From the newsstand Nerve screams “Screw with your mind.” In daring style, and with more than a hint of naughtiness, this magazine implores you to get your biggest organ* involved.

From its inaugural issue several months ago to its current sophomore hit, Nerve magazine has been stretching limits and pushing buttons in an attempt to revitalize the flagging sexual spirits of the gen-x cognoscenti. Assembled in more or less equal parts from the brazen Anything That Moves, the studious Libido and the self-congratulatory stylings of New York indie success story Bust, Nerve straddles the line between superfluous lasciviousness and down-home masturbation material.

Far from the madding crowd of again-chic pornography like Playboy and Penthouse (blame it on the martini and the swing revival), Nerve inhabits a burgeoning middle-ground of sex magazines which are more Good Vibrations and KY than champagne and Spanish Fly. Intensely erotic, and purposefully so, Nerve avoids the sanitized sexuality that makes the fluorescent glow of the nouveau ‘couple-friendly’ sex shops so discomfiting.

Nerve presents a complete cornucopia of the erotic arts, drawing quality fiction and piquant photography together with aplomb. With a mandate of exploring every variation in passion and desire, Nerve maintains a dynamic feature wherein four photographers are given the same model and encouraged to shoot a nude session with them, each exploring their own perversions and passions. While stories featuring lewd fantasies of Jesse Helms and Al Gore are far from spicy, the features on the strip-hop nation, the science of nymphomania, and the office-favourite tell-all ‘My New Penis’ provide a glimpse into the nether regions of sexuality.

Though it is unlikely to end up in the next Norton anthology, Nerve’s not exactly flaccid in the thesaurus department. The zine distinguishes itself from the realm of the standard juvenile porn writings of Penthouse letters with intelligence and honesty, and above all else, literacy.

Aside from all of its ‘second-coming of the sexual revolution’ ferocity Nerve represents a watershed moment for publishers as it does a 180 on prevailing economic and publishing thought and makes the move from online into good old-fashioned bathtub-accessible print. While people have been screaming for decades about the death of the book, and print in general, its astounding newsstand numbers prove that the format has not yet succumbed to the new-media misanthropes.

Building from its online roots, Nerve is more communal than any other magazine currently on the charts, with letters to the editor often referring to writers by first name and referring to the insular language of its website chatrooms. The community came alive with the first issue demanding more male nudity to complement the overwhelming display of the naked female form. The magazine is highly responsive and does a nifty little trick with its online personals sections, publishing its most outrageous clients in the magazine with amateur self-pics.

When the stash of Black Lace leaves you dry and Victoria’s Secret doesn’t even get a rise, Nerve may be the place to go for your arousal needs. Let’s join the new age and “think about sex.”

Not available at any Kingston stores. Yet. Demand it. www.nerve.com Lawrence Hastings is a porn-name pseudonym to protect the author’s parents from humiliation.

Magazines of the moment

Émigré — Into its 55th issue, this house magazine of the illustrious type foundry continues to challenge the graphic design establishment with both its daring installments and revolutionary fervour. Good luck finding it though as its covers rarely display its name and are bereft of identifying logos, not to mention that no Kingston stores carry it. www.emigre.com

dwell — A new magazine that dares to suggest that Modernist homes are in fact habitable for more than just the militant zen-obsessed upper crust. From the mad scientists in concrete form buildings to the utopian hippies on the hill, dwell respects and celebrates simplicity and purity, reveling in its epic feature on the quaint old vacuum cleaner.

Bust — The New York posse is back with their best issue in a very long while. While they had seemingly lost their acerbic wit and Bust-y brashness with the miserable Margaret Cho issue, the girls have proven again that there is no better magazine for the voice of the New Girl Order. Third Wave feminism served up with a healthy dose of John Cusack inspired self-celebration and misogynistic media vilification, Bust is the Hitachi Magic Wand of the magazine world. www.bust.com

Over and done with

Will someone please tell Tyler Brulé and the Wallpaper* crew that in fact cashmere wallpaper is not the epitome of cool; it just helps identify the nouveau riche still laden with the trashy suburban ‘shag carpet and paneled wall’ mentality. And lose the asterisk you precocious chumps.

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