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Baroness_Penny Slinger

Baroness: The New Erotic Volume That Women Can Take to Bed

We exclusively reveal the psychosexual collages by renowned feminist artist Penny Slinger included within the titillating new magazine

Considering that the emancipation of women has supposedly been and gone, and we are apparently living an era of “post-feminism,” the lack of erotica available for women is a thoroughly disappointing state of affairs; the examination of the world through a female gaze a surprising rarity. But the inaugural issue of Baroness, guest edited by Dazed editor-in-chief Isabella Burley, is seeking to level the playing field by offering an insight into the life of the eponymous Baroness: a woman who is “calling the shots from beneath her black satin sheets” and “has shed her filthy rich husband Baron for the life she really wants”. While Baroness actively avoids objectifying the male nude – in fact, the stereotypical male heartthrob is notably absent from its pages – it presents a gynocentric universe where female sexual desire rules all: the publication that female deviants worldwide have been waiting for.

“It’s funny because I’ve been obsessively collecting old erotica since I was seventeen,” reveals Burley, “I’ve always been intrigued by the way it can trace cultural histories and reflect ideas on gender, sexual preference and fetishes. Most of the adult magazine titles I have – publications like SMUT, Screw, and Qwikee – were solely about titillating and giving pleasure to men. They can be pretty offensive to women (SMUT had a regular column called ‘Meat Market’ which was a guide to hookers in different New York areas), but at the same time I find them fascinating as cultural objects reflecting dated ideas about gender.”

“Penny Slinger, who I am so honoured has contributed to this issue, published her artwork in adult magazines too in order to present herself as a subject and not an object” – Isabella Burley

“It’s interesting because the first interview of my career was with the artist and musician Cosey Fanni Tutti. In the 70s, she worked as a stripper named Scarlett and posed for a number of adult magazines – but what began as a source of income to fund the work she was doing with art collective Coum Transmissions eventually also became part of her art practice and ‘art actions’ series. It really opened my mind up to the possibilities of women taking ownership despite being under the male gaze. In a similar way, Penny Slinger, who I am so honoured has contributed to this issue, also published her artwork in adult magazines in order to present herself as a subject and not an object.”

Penny Slinger, whose work Circe graces one of the four covers, is an artist renowned for her psychosexual collages of feminine mysticism that often include her own naked body, and her subversion of the traditional male gaze perfectly encapsulates Baroness' philosophy. “I have to say that this was probably the most challenging issue I have made in Baron history,” explains Baroness founder and creative director Matthew Holroyd, who has been running Baron magazine (a pneumatic publication designed “be read in one hand and never left to gather dust”) for four years. “To start with, there really wasn’t such a wealth of information and work made about the female gaze in relation to the male nude – but in the end we felt that including just the female gaze in relation to the male nude felt very problematic, and would make both Baron and Baroness about gender binaries and men versus women.” Instead, the issue offers a witty, female-led array of content, including a portfolio of Slinger’s, which Burley describes as bequeathed by “the world’s finest perverts”. Here, Slinger reflects on her involvement in the project, and the world of erotica past and present...

On her involvement in Baroness...
“I was contacted by Isabella, who I had met previously when she came to visit me in California with fashion designer Tessa Edwards. Tessa designed a collection with my artwork on her clothing. Isabella also did an interview with artist Linder Sterling and myself when I came to London for an exhibition of my work.”

On creating Circe...
Circe is was part of a collection of collages I did in 1969, while attending Chelsea College of Art. I had discovered the collage books of Surrealist artist Max Ernst and was writing my thesis on him. I expressed how much his art inspired me by creating my own book of photo collage. I gave the book the title 50% The Visible Woman. I wanted to use the tools of Surrealism to probe the feminine psyche. Each collage had a poem associated with it which was printed on a transparent overlay. Circe appeared in the book which was published in 1971. Interestingly enough, seeing 50% The Visible Woman was what first inspired Linder to create her art.”

On the world of erotica...
“There has been such a shift in the whole erotic arena. When I was growing up there was not much else available other than ‘Men’s Magazines’. I did make a point, however, in showing up in those publications, as well as the ones dedicated to art. My intention was to present my naked self as my own subject, not as an object. Nowadays so much erotica is readily available, especially online. However, I see real value in having a publication aimed at women which is not only erotic but culturally and aesthetically rich and intriguing. Something with style, fit for a naughty Baroness... It is the time for women to get in a comfortable position on top after all.”

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