Cornell University: Exhibition features pioneering erotic magazine

From its launch in 1984 to its last issue in 2006, the women-run erotic magazine On Our Backs made good on its tagline of delivering “entertainment for the adventurous lesbian,” ultimately growing a strong international audience and shaping political discourse on sex and sexuality. Now, a library exhibition highlights the magazine’s pivotal first decade and invites Cornell scholars and the general public to discover its trailblazing beginnings.

Running through Sept. 30 in the Hirshland Exhibition Gallery of Carl A. Kroch Library, “Radical Desire: Making On Our Backs Magazine” features photographs and other archival materials from the publication’s founders and photographers, which are all part of the expansive Cornell Human Sexuality Collection.

Through vivid images, anecdotes, and contextual information, the exhibit traces On Our Backs’ pioneering history as the first publication of its kind to be run by women and explores how the magazine was produced and received – from the challenges of finding advertisers and securing loans, to the joys of nurturing a close-knit community and building a loyal readership.

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