The Sex and Sexuality Issue

A Cult first - an entire issue dedicated to one theme - Sex and Sexuality.

Featuring an interview with Lena Dunham of TV series GIRLS, articles from

practitioners and researchers and our fantastic fashion section.

Issue 8
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Issue 08

Lena Dunham Interview: ‘I’m that kind of jerk’

Fashion for him / her, and those still working it out

The A-Z of sex and sexuality

PORN PANIC - BAD EDUCATION OR SCAREMONGERING

BODY SUSHI - Not so big in Japan

 

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Catch My Drift

Frequently observed by our writer up close, he ‘zones-out’ and his attention seems to be elsewhere; indeed, actor/teacher James Franco has many shifts in interest. Here, Patricia Danaher talks to the student, artist, writer, poet– and aspiring time-traveller

 When James Franco was graduating from UCLA three years ago, his alma mater took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times with the headline: 'Some A-Listers Actually Get As'. The 39-year-old polymath has, for some time now, been baffling his colleagues in the worlds of entertainment and academia with his appetites and his seemingly effortless straddling of both worlds.

Beneath the cheeky chappie smile, stoner movies and those good looks, James Franco is a terribly serious artist who is as much at home on set as he is in the classroom. He has degrees from Yale, NYU and UCLA and has been teaching film and filmmaking in the classroom for six years. Somehow, he also has about five movies a year coming out and is the star of a new TV show, 11.22.63, a time-travelling story about the assassination of John F Kennedy, based on the Stephen King novel.

This Renaissance Man, who has also published poetry and a novel, tells me he is nostalgic for an era he has not lived in (Hollywood in the 1940s), while having no real regrets about anything
in his own past.

We meet at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills the night after the Oscars. He flew in to LA the night before to attend the post-Oscar parties, then flew to his home town of Palo Alto the following morning to teach a class, then flew back to LA to sit down with Cult. The following morning, he will fly back to New York. Even thinking about a day in the life of James Franco would exhaust most mortals. He is pale and looks a little tired...

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Vanity

By Joanne O’Connor

V is for...virtue, vanity, vice ,vitriol, violence

 Five writers with their own unique take on these timeless themes

 Picture this. A middle-aged woman stares down a camera lens, sucking in her cheeks with the force of a Dyson to perfect a pout. Her lips are suspiciously full and her skin is so taut and wrinkle-free that it’s unlikely to be down to either ‘good genes’ or drinking the eight litres of water an hour, or whatever, is currently being prescribed. From this angle she is all panoramic forehead and microscopic chin. But Madonna must have been suitably impressed with the results of her considered pose. Because one thing is certain: the image would never have been posted online if she wasn’t

 

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Patti Smith

Is Patti Smith still punk? She is known for putting her foot through speakers, writing revolutionary songs and rebelling against her religous upbringing. Now she listens to opera and performs at the Vatican. It begs the question, is she still Punk? Patti Smith has been badass for a long time. At 69, she is still badass and an icon who is still pushing boundaries in way that are still radical after all these years.

Born a Jehovah’s Witness in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Smith has sustained an ambivalent relationship with the Christian Church all her life. She is confident enough in her sense of self, and rigorous enough intellectually, to sustain an engagement with faith that hasn’t always been imbued with love and awe. And it is one of the topics she is entirely comfortable discussing with Cult during an interview in which she also speaks at length about her music, her loves and a life of rebellion.

She’s radical enough, for example, to have performed for the Pope at the Vatican Christmas concert for the second year in a row, and wrote a song for the movie Noah. There is no contradiction, in her mind, to the long dance she’s had with the idea of God, Jesus and even their earthly representatives.

When she sang Gloria in 1975, inserting the line ‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine’, Smith was being deliberately provocative, exulting in the New York punk movement, after having tried all her life to escape the religious confines of her upbringing. Now, she is still engaging in questions of faith, and her views on the subject are full of thoughtful questioning.

We are having afternoon tea at the Ritz Carlton in New York just before Christmas when she opens up about her own intellectual and spiritual evolution.

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'Appy Days

Looking for love or no-strings-attached sex, the common perception is that it’s all available at the tap of an app. Our writer talked to Tinder, Grindr and other dating app users about the good, the bad and the ugly side of digital dating

 So, you’re a sing mother of one?’ ‘Yeah!!’ ‘Want to be a single Mother of two?’

This is one of the more amusing interactions that were screenshot and featured in Tom Philllips’ Tinder Fails book. However, Tinder and other dating apps can be dark realms, populated by the lonely and sex-obsessed.
The Tinderati cravings are fed by curiosity and escapism, as Cult finds out in this investigation into dating apps.

Clearly the dating app industry has exploded - with Grindr, Tinder, Blendr and Hornet some of the most used apps available to show lovelorn souls just where the next Mr/Ms Right may be down to the metre. On the cleverly named Hornet, regular users can choose four public photos and four private ones that an admirer can request to be unlocked. Blendr/Badu offers a similar function.

Clearly, though, they are all used to remedy one of two things, loneliness and a sexual release of some kind. Quite normal needs, really. As humans, we crave company and love, and as animals we are driven by
our “reproductive” organs....

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Just Kids

Menswear & Womenswear shoot from issue six

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Hipster.jpg

Hipster Shaming

By Patrick Lawlor

I can’t stand what I imagine to be hipsters... with their glossy Lego beards, perfect hair and expressionless faces. Herds of Hoziers. Masses of Mumfords. Anodyne and asinine. Dylan McGrath foodies who go higher up the hipster chain the more they get on speaking terms with said chic chef.

When I told my mother I’d be writing an article about hipsters, her oblivious response was: ‘I used to own a pair of those.’ ‘No, not the clothes, Mam!’ After that generational mis-step, I went on to try to explain what a hipster is. ‘You know, they’re people who like certain stuff... They wear unusual clothes, drink coffee, they have, like, niches... and BEARDS!’ I babbled. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’ was the reasonably valid reply. ‘But I don’t like all those beards... So are you a hipster?’ Discombobulated, I blurted: ‘No... But I suppose I do have some hipster attributes, like the skinny jeans...’ (Then Peep Show-mode thought process kicks in: ‘I also enjoy certain coffees, have some outré clothing and music tastes. And wait, hang on, I also have recently cultivated a bit of a beard... Am... I... a... h-h-h-hipster?!’) And, yes, I’ve dropped a H-bomb. Oh yes, I’ve taken pleasure in ribbing a few friends and colleagues by sneering that word at them. But then again, I’ve been equally shamed in that condescending, jokey way. I recall being mildly irked. But not quite to the same extent as a friend of mine who took to Facebook recently to vent his fury at being hipster-shamed. DW wrote:
‘Does every man with a beard have to be a hipster? Like, the hipster thing has got well out of control... You can’t even eat f*cking cereal without being called a hipster… It seems the word hipster
has replaced the word ‘gay’ for describing absolutely anything that’s different than yourself or how you choose to live your life.’ His ‘I can’t take it anymore!’ moment prompted a plethora of supportive replies from the also-shamed. One posted: ‘Ever drank an IPA or bought coffee beans outside
of Tesco? Fuckin’ hipster...’ Another wrote: ‘Apparently I’m a hipster because I mend drums.’ The annoyance at the longevity of the word is what seemed to have rankled most with DW and his followers. And, let’s face it, the term is a little dated. The OED defines a hipster as ‘a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream’ and states it is derived from the 1940s jazz scene phrase ‘hepcat’. But hepcat (an altered form of hip cat) has a far more positive ring to it. Hipster - just like yuppie, luvvie, nimby and hippy - is more pejorative in tone.

History tells us hipster-shaming will surely end. As we’ve seen with ‘queer’, ‘gay’, ‘geek’, their meanings are very much evolving and can be negative or positive depending on the context/ tone. Othering will always exist in some form, it seems. Already in North America, ‘yuccies’ are popping up all over the place. They are ‘young, urban creatives’ if you’re not down with the kidz.

So we’re all going to get burnt with a brand at some point... just like the hipster who scalded his lips on his civet coffee; he drank it before it was cool!  I know, shame on me...

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King of Horror

Cult talks to writer Stephen King about jealousy and why he never liked the film version of The Shining

 When Stephen King was two years old, his father went out to buy a packet of cigarettes one night and never came back. Stephen and his adopted brother were raised by their mother in Portland, Maine: a locale which has inspired prodigious literary output, including 70 novels (many successfully adapted for the big screen), myriad short stories, journalism and TV shows. It is also where King was nearly killed by a man who could have been one of his fictional creations.

Warm and unpretentious, 66-year-old King retains a huge interest in popular culture, particularly music, comics and the latest cinema. So when he tells me that he wanted to write some of the TV adaptation of his novel Under The Dome because he was ‘jealous’ of George RR Martin getting to write on Game Of Thrones, it’s hard to decide if he’s terribly competitive – or feels that he has to keep pushing himself constantly, even after selling north of 300 million books.

For the former high school teacher, it all really began in 1974. Although King had been publishing short stories for about six years by then, the success of his novel Carrie and the movie adaptation allowed him to retire from teaching and write full-time. Since then, he has collaborated with artists from Michael Jackson to Brian De Palma and Rob Reiner, as well as Marvel Comics and The Ramones. And movies like Misery, The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me are all acknowledged classics of cinema based on King’s work. Stanley Kubrick’s take on The Shining in 1982 stamped a terrifying Jack Nicholson into the consciousness of cinemagoers everywhere. I am therefore surprised when King tells me that it is the one adaptation of his work that he has never liked.

‘I don’t think it’s a very good movie,’ he says. ‘I think it’s beautiful to look at but you can say that about a perfectly maintained Cadillac, whether you have a motor in it or not. It’s cold and I feel like in the novel, Jack Torrance had an arc if you saw him as a tragic hero, in the sense that he’s trying to do the right thing for his family and little by little he’s drawn to a point where he snaps. I had a very clear image of taking a piece of metal and bending it back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, until it snaps. By the same token, I had a picture of his wife as a conventionally pretty woman who had real heart and soul and courage. I thought Kubrick created the kind of characters that Jack Nicholson had been channeling, some of the motorcycle outlaws who played on American International Pictures in the Sixties and that Shelley Duvall was really a sort of anti-feminist caricature, a scream machine. I had problems with that, but mostly I felt that it was more form than substance, so I’m sorry but I can’t go along with that.’

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A Face for Fashion 

Photography by Alex Sheridan

Just as fresh-faced as those photographed over these four pages, Alex Sheridan has taken time out of his busy schedule - including finishing school - to photograph the latest arrivals on a number ofmodelling agencies’ books. Alex is becoming quite the man about town with a reputation for some fine photography. At just 18, he has been profiled by the Sunday Times Style magazine, photographed for Red Bull and, most recently, exhibited as part of a PhotoIreland street exhibition which contained a series of his skate boarder pics. Alex has also started to get a name for some of his fashion photography and has become the go-to-guy for to shoot fashion’s new faces

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