Top image: “Wives Shows” // Text by Kate Durbin // Photo by Sarrah Danziger // Concept by Corrine Loperfido
Do not question our love for New Orleans. Scandalous and grimy, in a historic sort of way, it kinda reminds us of the Bay Area. We did hyphy, they have bounce. We’ve got Folsom Street Fair, they have Mardi Gras (though maybe Southern Decadence is the more apt comparison). And where we’ve got AHDM4U, they’ve got Momma Tried.
Hot on the heels of our Travel Issue feature on Nola’s high season — not to mention that the second release in local genius Rebecca Solnit’s phenomenal atlas series focuses on the majick of the Big Easy — we bring you this look at an upstart Nola magazine on its very first issue. A “conceptual nudie mag with visual and literary arts”, full of our favorite Nola scenesters and personalities? It’s like a cheat sheet for how to be cute on the other side of the country.
We exchanged electronic communiques with Momma Tried founders Theo Eliezer and Micah Learned because we’re into anyone who gets naked on the cover of their own magazine.
Momma Tried Issue #1 // Photo by Alana Pryer Ackerman
AHDM4U :: How did you decide to make a magazine?
MICAH :: Out of the blue, initially. One day about two years ago, I was daydreaming and asked my then-roommate Vanessa if she thought a local (to New Orleans) nudie mag was a good idea and she did. A couple hours later, I called Theo and told her the idea, and she was into it too. That first spark was pretty unremarkable. It amounted to something like: local, approachable men and women naked in print, we can do art and writing too, no advertising. At that time in the summer, Theo and I had just started working on this large-scale collaborative art installation called The Music Box, so we didn’t immediately start working on Momma Tried, but I started running my mouth about it anyway. I had cornered myself into starting a magazine by the time winter came around.
Now that I think about it, the core ideas for Momma Tried were mostly there from my first mention of it to Vanessa. It just took a number of months alone and with Theo to develop the language to communicate the vision for the magazine. I think we’re still learning how to do that.
AHDM4U :: You proudly dub this an ad-free magazine, but you make heavy use of fake, retro-looking advertisements. How come?
MICAH :: Saying “ad-free” is just the most efficient way of communicating to our audiences that we aren’t selling ad space in the magazine. This is important, both because we don’t have that revenue and economic influence, and because not “selling space” allows the pages of the magazine to stay fully within our creative control. One of my intents for Momma Tried is for it to be a sort of portable exhibition space for written and visual work, while also being a critique of the medium of print magazines. The inclusion of fake ads, which we call disruptive content, is one of our best tools for doing that.
THEO :: Also, we decided early on that although we don’t want real brands in Momma Tried, advertisements make magazines seem accessible and casual, and part of our inspiration from the start was to create a literary publication that isn’t alienating to people who find most literary journals stuffy because of how they typically look. The fake ads in Momma Tried let us have substantial content without creating a really serious-looking publication that people feel like they need to be in just the right mood to get into.
“Crystal Visions” // Photo by Aubrey Edwards // Art direction by Theo Eliezer
AHDM4U :: There’s this super darling photo feature in the magazine where you made people into paper dolls, complete with really divergent wardrobes. There’s next to no text that accompanies it. How was that piece conceptualized?
THEO :: When I was a little girl I had a paper doll book of queens, empresses, and female heads of state throughout history that made a really big impact on me. Certain queens and empresses in the beginning of the book such as Nefertiti and Theodora were depicted topless or semi-nude, which I found very impressive at that age, since their somewhat exposed bodies clearly didn’t detract at all from their political power.
When I was brainstorming ideas for the three photo editorials in our first issue I wanted to come up with something that lots of people could relate to or easily understand, so I developed the idea for this editorial partially inspired by the half-naked queens in the paper doll book from my childhood. The concept is that when we’re undressed we’re most similar to one another, and that the clothing that we wear and the objects that we keep around us heavily influence ideas of separateness and perceived differences. For the various looks of each doll I collaborated with our friends who modeled to put together outfits that create contrasting perceptions of who they may be, playing on what society might expect someone to look like based on skin color or gender, and what society at large might be less accepting of.
AHDM4U :: How long did it take you to pull this issue together? How much did it cost? Are there more in the works?
THEO :: We began working on it in the beginning of 2012, but a lot of those early months were spent trying to define what it was that we wanted to create. The printing cost was around $14,000 which we were really fortunate to be able to raise the majority of the funds for on Kickstarter. We’re already working on Issue 2 and are super excited about all of the great submissions people have been sending us! Anyone that’s interested in sending us art or writing to consider for the next issue should check out our submissions guidelines and get their work to us by January 5th, 2014.
“Opelousas” advertisement // Design by Micah Learned
AHDM4U :: Where can folks pick up the mag?
THEO :: People can find the magazine in New Orleans at Bon Castor, Gnome, Friend, Defend New Orleans, and Crescent City Comics, and online. We’re currently working on our national and international distribution, and we hope to have more cities soon, so people should check back in to our stockist page for updates.
AHDM4U :: Where are your favorite haunts in New Orleans? On a typical Saturday, what are you getting up to?
THEO :: My approach to being social is pretty polar: either I want to be at a queer dance party wearing seven inch platforms and something ridiculous on my head, or I want to be completely low-key with a few close friends just hanging out on someone’s porch.
MICAH :: Recently our good friend started tending bar on Saturdays at an old New Orleans dive in the neighborhood – we’ve been there a lot recently in the far corner of the bar with friends. One of the things about New Orleans that has always made sense to me is that life here doesn’t revolve around the weekend for a lot of people, but rather whatever night has “IT.” The best thing in any given week might happen on Monday or Thursday, and Saturday might be the night to take it easy.