Cover art by Efrain Gonzalez
Based upon the success of the first Black Radical Pleasure (50.2) issue, guest editor Kirin Wachter-Grene and TBS Editor-in-Chief Louis Chude-Sokei contend—our readers insist—that it is time to push these conversations further.
This issue opens with Ariane Cruz, Angela Jones, and Siobhan Brooks in “Black Feminist Uses of the Erotic: A TBS Roundtable,” which discusses the lasting impact of Audre Lorde’s canonical “Uses of the Erotic.” Khalil West’s “Race, Pleasure, and Ruin: Transatlantic Oral Histories of Black Queer Men Who Do Sex Work” looks at erotic possibilities and foreclosures when intertwined with various pressures. Marsha Horsley’s “Aftertaste” considers an extragenital site of Black erotic pleasure—the throat, and Luke Jarzyna’s “Reading the Improper Record: Justin Philip Reed, Danez Smith, and Michael L. Johnson” takes on the entangled relationship between the criminalization of Black queer sexuality and the language of poetry.
Joshua Kamau Reason’s “The Future is Now: Blackness, Polyamory, and Rural Sexual Ecologies in The City of the Future” challenges the assumption that radical pleasures and identifications are exclusively urban and “first world” phenomena and Kirin Wachter-Grene’s and Regina Hamilton’s creative interchange about legendary transgressive writer Samuel R. Delany’s 1975 science fiction masterpiece Dhalgren explores the novel’s erotic horizon in its representation of Black women. Ashleigh Wade’s “Black Girls as/at The Limit of Radical Desire: Black Girl Sexuality on The Chi” considers the popular American television show’s pushing of the limits of Black radical pleasure via Black girlhood.
The final three pieces speak explicitly to Black radical pleasure at the edges of possibility. For example, Heather Raquel Phillips shares her enlightening conversation, “Transcendental & Unruly: An Exchange with Girl Complex, International Ms. Leather 2017” while the expansiveness of Black trans feminism is the topic of, “Freer than We Want to Be: On Marquis Bey’s Black Trans Feminism,” by Abraham B. Weil. Camilah Hicks, Victor Ultra Omni, and Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi. The issue closes with Jennifer DeClue’s reflections on the sensual freedom experienced via sculptor Simone Leigh’s work at the 2022 Venice Biennale.
Our cover artist from the first issue returns. Efrain Gonzalez is a legendary photographer documenting radical Black sexualities since the 1970s. We dedicate this issue to the memory of another legendary figure, Mistress Velvet, the pro-Domme, activist, comrade, and educator who was and is an enduring standard of erotic possibility for us all.
For a limited time, you can read and download the introduction and Black Feminist Uses of the Erotic: A TBS Roundtable, with Siobhan Brooks, Ariane Cruz and Angela Jones, for free. In conjunction with this issue, we have posted ‘“BDSM Is More Than That”: An Interview with Olivia Troy,” by Anna Ziering.
Personal subscriptions are $46 USD and include 4 issues. In volume 54 (2024), keep an eye out for Amiri Baraka’s Blues People at 60: Still a Portal to the Future, an issue on Black women and speculative fiction, Ceddo: Black British Independent Film, and more…