“It all started at a party with one of my friends telling me a particularly candid – and amusing – story about one of their recent sexual experiences,” explains Alex Tieghi-Walker, California-based founder of The Anonymous Sex Journal. “I tried to extract these types of stories from other friends but some people were more reserved, so I set up an online form where people could send me stories anonymously.” The anonymity of this process was evidently appealing, and Tieghi-Walker received so many submissions that he compiled them into a publication; six issues later, The Anonymous Sex Journal remains unique and delightful in its balance of candour, humour, mystery and empathy, a combination that makes for a novel way of viewing sex and intimacy.
Every issue of The Anonymous Sex Journal is themed, and this latest one, newly launched, centres on coming of age, inspired by Tieghi-Walker’s own “second coming of age” of sorts following a move from London to Northern California, a period during which he “reflected a lot on the experiences – sexual and non-sexual – which shaped my past and my new present, so this felt like an interesting theme to explore”. The label ‘coming of age’ implies an uncertainty, a moment of transition and the shedding of naivety, all of which are addressed in varying measures throughout the issue’s 21 submissions, from adolescent encounters to grown-up experiences. Some are imbued with more emotion than others, but all speak to a universal happening. Over a year in the making, Tieghi-Walker describes this issue as “a bit more nuanced, or tender”, saying: “I like that the stories in this issue aren’t all overtly sexual: some are about quiet moments of adolescence, first experiences outside the bedroom, feelings of naivety, outlook, and hopes”.
The printed stories in The Anonymous Sex Journal are paired with illustrations in each issue “to lighten the tone a bit”, Tieghi-Walker says. For the sixth issue Tieghi-Walker worked with Jeffrey Cheung, whose line drawings are cheeky and charming, a perfect match for the journal’s idiosyncratic tone. The collaboration with Cheung – who founded Unity, an Oakland-based queer skate and print collective – seemed inevitable to Tieghi-Walker once the two met, since both print in risograph and, according to Tieghi-Walker, “it’s almost as if the journal existed for him to illustrate it at some point”. All in all, The Anonymous Sex Journal’s combination of witty drawings, intriguing confessions and pure honesty makes for a refreshing and absorbing read on a Monday morning (or indeed, any day of the week).
The Anonymous Sex Journal: The Coming of Age Issue is available now, published by Ditto London.