Lesbian print’s not dead, it’s European

Whether you’re looking for a new periodical to brighten up your mailbox, or are on the hunt for some sexy reading material, it seems Europe’s got the handle on artsy queer magazines worth every cent of international shipping. Packed with interviews, essays, photos, art and a healthy dollop of whip smart humor, these publications are shining a light on rad women across the globe.

Bend Over magazine, formerly Soapzine, is a handsome little mag published twice a year out of Berlin. With the subtitle "Feminism, Sexuality and Queer Art," Bend Over’s mission is a mix of magazine culture and queer subversion, with aims to “fill the gap between queer lifestyle and special-interest publications with a sexy, practical, feminist take on the people and things we love.”

Mission accomplished: the glossy pocket-sized publication features clever interviews, essays, comics, and spreads. Issue Four saw interviews with everyone from musicians Shunda K and Rosa Lux, to Shine Louis Houston, a queer porn entrepreneur. Their photo spreads of various artist and photographers’ work are especially noteworthy, such as Goodyn Green’s “Masturbation Catalogue” a project that hopes to inspire bisexuals and lesbians to, uh, enjoy photos of nude androgynous hotties. Pair that with the magazine’s signature end pages of handmade Mad Libs, and you’ve got a magazine that’s a far cry from your mother’s copy of Elle.

The work of Jessica Gysel and Kathrin Hero, Amsterdam-based Girls Like Us, has been on the block since 2005. You can expect the content to be all of over the map, literally and figuratively. This unpredictable roster is all part of their mission, to go “beyond standardized depictions of the international queer community. They’re not interested in labeling – it’s all about women (and the occasional man) with stories to tell and transcending convention. Fresh faces and emerging scenes intermingle with lesbian legends.” GLU, as it’s affectionately known, has featured diverse material such as interviews with everyone from Beth Ditto to the director of Paris Is Burning, to photo shoots of Australian football players, to a collection of old-school lesbian pamphlets like Womanews and Lesbiche Politick.

New art director and co-editor Vela Arbutina has given the magazine even more of a edge, with sleek layout and oh-so-gay touches, like the purple and white ‘90s font that their latest issue is decked out in. Recently, they took their recipe for cool and turned it towards music with Girls Like Us Music, an awesomely crafted compilation with attractive booklet and bonus poster. What’s more, Girls Like Us sure as hell knows their audience: you can find their snappy triangle logo silk-screened on their own line of underwear and bandanas.

Other publications worth hopping a pond for include Hugs and Kisses, a German language guide to queer subculture with the tagline "Tender To All Gender." Clit Rocket is a dyke zine out of Italy that, if you can score back issues, features interviews with the likes of Tribe 8 and The Haggard. Or swing down under for Australian mag Slit, a high art glossy of women’s erotica.

Your mailbox will thank you.

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