Paris is once again two steps ahead of everyone – except perhaps Germany – when it comes to the world of kink; you can look back at my article on BDSM and the Marquis de Sade if you need a quick history class. Another installment in the Paris kink revolution came back in 2010 by Paris’ Ivy League, the Institut d’Etudes Politiques or the Institute of Political Studies, who started the sex positive magazine L’Imparfaite. This doesn’t make these French students the first college kids to come up with a sex mag, as a few have come out of the University of Chicago and Harvard, but these were closer to pornography, where L’Imparfaite’s focus is to depict their erotic images in a manner closer to high fashion, and actually explore the sociological elements of not only fetish and kink, but sexual expression across cultures. When they launched back in 2010, L’ Imparfaite was partially bankrolled by the Paris-based sex toy shop Passage du Désir, which has also served as the source of material as they don’t limit themselves to discussing your run-of-the-mill dildos.
With a print run of 2000 copies, they are far from a Larry Flynt budget. It’s no secret the porn industry is a billion-dollar machine, a fact the magazine’s publishers are well aware of, which is why they chose the name L’Imparfaite – which means “imperfect” – referring to the fact that while we now have more access to sex via the internet, it is still a subject that can never fully be explored because of its subjectivity. As a comedian once put it, the internet had unlimited potential to access vast amounts of knowledge from across the spectrum that could have led to dialogue to improve the world, but it became two guys jerking off in cyberspace, one pretending to be a teenage girl. You don’t have to peruse Fetlife to know that westerners tend to confuse the act of sex with the kink lifestyle, as the site has become used more like OkCupid rather than a forum for exploring and talking about it, rather than masturbating to it. Being a country founded on Judeo Christian beliefs, it’s no surprise that years of repression mean that most porn that comes out of America these days either has to use b-movie humor or more closely resemble something from the Animal Planet, with only the physical element focused on. Printed erotica might have had a resurgence, but it follows the example set down by a piece of Twilight fan fiction, and tends to have grown women tittering over it like they are high school girls. What about some serious dialogue to look at multi-cultural experience of sexuality being expressed in the world?
I was on Fetish panel at Dragon-con a few years ago, and tried to stress participants to look at the spiritual and therapeutic elements of their kink experience, and was shocked to find other panelists who were supposedly professional peers in the field taking an attitude of “who care as long as you are having fun, I’m just here to get laid.” When I used to take clients, if they told me they just wanted to engage in BDSM because it feels good, I would refer them to “play parties” where people were just playing around it with it. On, L’ Imparfaite’s website, their advertisement for their June 2015 issue claimed it would be their last. Hopefully, someone from the magazine will carry on the torch, as this type of fresh and beautiful look at erotica in all its many forms is something the world needs more of.