There’s nothing new under the sun, it seems, except the ever-proliferating number of web sites. And sites of the X-rated variety seem to pop up faster than any other kind.

The recently launched Nerve (http://www.nervemag.com) is one of these. Billing itself as literate smut (as opposed to, what, illiterate smut?) I was eager to surf on over to see what the fuss was all about. I waited until I got home to check it out, lest some co-worker or manager sneak up behind me and see (gasp!) the evidence of X-rated wanderings all over my screen. I soon realized that I needn’t have bothered.

Literate smut apparently refers to smut that one reads. Okay, I guess should have figured that out. But what a fine collection of words they have assembled here. Famous names pop out at you from wherever you travel on this site: Poppy Z. Brite, Lisa Carver, Quentin Crisp, M. Jocelyn Elder (“Stands Firm on Masturbation”), Elissa Wald, and Catherine Texier. There’s even an interview with Norman Mailer commenting on William S. Burroughs.

As might be expected, the writing is first rate. For visual stimulus, Nerve offers a “Skin” section which is a selection of photos. Notable offerings here are black and white photos from "Naked New York," by photographer Greg Friedler. These odd and disturbing photos are of New Yorkers who are photographed twice: once nude and once in clothes; the photos are displayed side by side. The effect is not terribly erotic, but interesting and provocative nonetheless. Future contributors are to include Dorothy Allison, Andres Serrano, Annie Sprinkle and Naomi Wolf.

Philosophically, the editors of Nerve position their cyber `zine as somewhere more “graphic than erotica” but less “blockheadedly masculine than pornography.” In execution it feels a little like salon1999 meets X Magazine, which isn’t bad. But this is a site slanted more towards readers than lookers, so you can safely cruise it on a boring day no matter who might turn up looking over your shoulder! If you’re lucky maybe it will be someone you can read one of those extremely well-written dirty stories to…

And speaking of being read to, the Urban Desires website (http://www. desires.com) has a hot little story entitled “Mouthing” on this very subject in issue 3.3’s sex/health/erotica section, and plenty more of interest archived in back issues, like “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Massage,” “Confessions of a Sexy Sloth,” “Geek Love - The Sequel,” and “Ken: The Doll...The Myth... Sexuality, Plastic and Aids.” The rest of the site is broken into the more mainstream subject areas Word, Food, Tech Toys, Style, Art, Music, Performance and Travel. This is a hip and style-y site that’s been reviewed as “Diverse, flashy and sometimes a little raunchy ...,” which sounds like my kind of place.

Where else to go in these hot days of summer? There’s always The Shocking Photo ExposE of the Lesbian Barbie Scene at http://www.desires.com/1.2/art/docs.

This is Barbie as you’ve probably never imagined her. Obviously the work of a demented person who harbors a heavy thing with the favorite American cultural icon, this is a clever and strange place, which used to be stranger and more clever until a certain toy corporation requested that she, uh, back off. So now, sadly, the scenes of Barbie are silhouetted but you still get the idea.

If you'd like to submit your site for review in Exotic Magazine, please send your request via email: xmag@teleport.com and make the subject "site submission."

Past reviews can be found here <-- (beware... it's pretty big)



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