Lesbians used to have On Our Backs and gay men have Butt. Now, Original Plumbing, a “quarterly photo and interview-saturated magazine dedicated to the culture and sexuality of FTM transsexuals” is the new Playboy for the genderqueer generation. Sure, there’s all kinds of hot naked spreads, but you actually can genuinely say you read it for the articles with a “straight” face.
Just a warning, the website (linked above) features many NSFW photos.
The inaugural “bedroom issue” has just been released, and is already on independent bookstore shelves. Release parties continue to soldier on, including stops in Brooklyn, San Francisco and Seattle.
So, does OP live up to the hype?
In short, yes. It being the very first of its kind of outwardly celebrate FTM bodies in an overtly sexual manner, in color, and it couldn’t really go wrong. The introductory theme is appropriately intimate and interesting and the first five models are appropriately diverse and sultry.
The 12 article magazine contains a satisfactory collection of personal narrative, socio-political healthcare commentary, erotic short story and even some investigative sex journalism. The portraits are sexy, goofy, and most certainly not airbrushed in the unnatural and decidedly unappealing manner of mainstream ideals of beauty ala Ralph Lauren.
However, OP does take some missteps. Co-creator Rocco Kayiatos, also known as hip-hop artist Katastrophe takes center stage. His ultra-steamy photoshoot and well thought out interview deserve this spot as centerfold. Indeed, he would have been a much preferable cover model. I can only assume the editors did not choose this route in order not too appear too self-promoting or arrogant, but it was a mistake.
Cover boy Cyd Nova, while certainly a fascinating character, comes off as vapid and immature in his interview by Amos Mac. This is especially unfortunate appearing near the beginning of the magazine, when a narrative story by Cyd himself shows his true dynamism and thought-provoking prose. Writer Amos Mac also redeems himself in later interviews, so both have the potential to be fine reads, if only this initial story had been shuffled to the back.
Winter’s hair issue, for bears, silky smooth boys and everything in between, should be an even queerer investigation into what makes aspects of sex and gender erotic to various individuals. It should certainly have plenty of room for an array of aesthetically varied shots.
I am also hoping that leaping out of the personal realm of the bedroom might give Original Plumbing room to explore group shoots. Whether the FTMs engage with other trans folks or cis-gendered men and women surely coupling will add a unique dimension that OP could use. FTM sexuality most certainly does not exist in a vacuum.