Notes on
Profane & Sacred Love

I’d had this idea for a while. I went out walking the day after Valentine’s Day, and saw a child’s Valentine left abandoned on the ground. It sparked so many feelings in me: innocence, nostalgia, the commodification of love, love being disposable and cheap, the yearning for a higher love. I was also in the middle of falling in love with someone, despite the timing being absolutely awful, and despite the circumstances around us being dire and hopeless.

But February is a long time ago. My professor tasked us with making a zine, and this idea manifested into a zine that pokes fun at sex, art, and sex in art. Verses from the Song of Solomon and other erotic writings are combined with images both classical and... unexpected. Quagmire quoting a swoonworthy passage from Kate Chopin’s “The Storm,” in particular, is a favorite among my friends. My zine may look like a ridiculous, random mish-mash, and maybe that’s all it is to others, but in my head, there is some meaning behind my madness.

The first spread represents pure sensuality, “profane love.” Taste, touch, (sidenote: a million kudos to whoever can name whose eyes those are ) body parts. Eve, squeezing the forbidden fruit, daydreams about Mick Jagger, Brigitte Bardot, and the handsome subject of one of Botticelli’s portraits. (I always thought all three of these people shared a resemblance. Now I finally have a way to express that.) A still from Andy Warhol’s seminal film, “Blow Job,” next to the Rolling Stones’ fat, wet tongue provide more than just a hint of her desire. Adam Sandler sucks on a golf ball like a filthy, insolent (sidenote: I saw it on a DVD cover at Goodwill and knew I needed it in the zine. I guess I have a strange mind. ) Mae West models what Robert Herrick meant when he wrote about the “liquefaction” of a woman’s clothes.

The second spread is sex and passion. A blend of both “sacred and profane love.” The difference between “sacred and profane” blur during the “vulgar” act of coitus. ☯ I juxtapose a panel from a naughty Tijuana bible with a gorgeous shunga print. (Those links are super NSFW). Austin Powers, to no one’s surprise, makes an appearance. Throw in Kirk and Spock because 1. the chemistry is undeniable, 2. it is beautiful how some people (including myself) can see such an inspiring love in two fictional characters from a corny TV show, and 3. they are a reference to zine history.

The last spread: “sacred love.” The most personal spread for me. Florence Ballard was my muse for this piece. Some people are too beautiful to exist; she left this world too soon. My dad mentioned having a crush on her when he was a child. She is beautiful, and evokes innocence. I want this spread to give you the feeling of loving someone, and how they make your life so much better just by being in it. I combine the lyrics from the classic soul song “Sunny” with a line from an achingly beautiful sonnet by Pablo Neruda, as well as lines from a David Bowie song that a boyfriend of mine sang to me. I dedicate this spread to him. “A Love Supreme” is cut and paste from the cover of John Coltrane’s spiritual jazz album, and “I Hear a Symphony” is a (sidenote: But truth be told, I had “Ask Any Girl” in my head when I pasted this spread together. Such a great song. )

Two artworks by pulp BDSM artist Gene Bilbrew make an appearance. The loving couple on the back take turns reciting Song of Solomon 1:10. Mary Magdalene is a recurring theme, because for some reason the Apostle of the Apostles is associated with sex. On the front cover, she is collaged together with Andrea True’s legs.

September 10, 2021