Posts Tagged ‘On Our Backs’

In Memoriam: Honey Lee Cottrell

Friday, October 9th, 2015
“Coastbound Train Rachel and Elexis"

“Coastbound Train, Rachael and Elexis,” 1985. Image by Honey Lee Cottrell. Among her well-known photographs is this powerful image of Rachael Williams (the first Ms. Leather) and Elexis that first appeared in On Our Backs.

You may have known Honey Lee Cottrell. For sure you know her life’s work as a photographer and cinematographer.

Honey Lee Cottrell passed away on September 21, 2015, of pancreatic cancer. She was 69. We lost a friend and compatriot of Nan’s from  the early days of On Our Backs and Fatale Video. She was one of the “core four” at On Our Backs, along with Nan, Deborah Sundahl and Susie Bright.

Deborah Sundahl wrote of Honey Lee: “The most influential photographer of the 1980s and ’90s in her innovative and original representation of lesbian sexuality. Her specialty was articulating the butch-femme of the 1950s for a new era of lesbians.”

Honey Lee filmed Clips, which featured “the first-ever-seen-on-screen authentic female ejaculation. Nan said, “She was right where she needed to be to get that shot, strong and steady to capture the event.” What an historic event it was, too.

Honey Lee was a force behind the scenes at Fatale and lesbian pornography. She chronicled the world of lesbian sexuality at On Our Backs, Fatale Video and beyond. Her subjects were open and honest with her, gazing directly into the camera’s lens.

What writers and academics refer to as “the lesbian gaze,” Honey Lee personified in her work. Her images were published in books and journals and shown in exhibitions and shows. Her work is archived at the Human Sexuality Collection at Cornell University. (Read the whole obituary, written by Brenda Marston of Cornell University, here.)

Self portrait.  2009.  Image by Honey Lee Cottrell

Self portrait. 2009. Image by Honey Lee Cottrell


We’ll let Honey Lee have the last word:

“The lesbian gaze meant that there was a contemplation,” she said, “a restraint, a sincerity and a warrior-quality. This lesbian look was compelling. While your heterosexual woman model might compel the rest of the world to look at her, a lesbian was addressing you.”

Until next time,

Nan & Christi

P.S. You can see Honey Lee’s work in Clips and some of her photos on Fatale Media’s Pinterest boards. Kitty Tsui, Honey Lee with tux and oar, as well as some others.

“As someone who knew nothing…”

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Lazy Days of Summer










This note arrived in our inbox last week, reading: “As someone who knew nothing about lesbian pornography or that companies like yours existed I think it is very cool you do what you do.”

Summers always bring us the sense of possibility. The days are long and lazy. It’s a delicious feeling. Like when we were kids and had long, long days stretched out ahead of us, no school, nothing to do.

Were we innocent? Not entirely!

Some days we’d hang with packs of other kids and go roaming the streets, just looking for trouble.

Other days called for hibernating with a book.

Now and then there were swimming pools or a day trip to the beach to go swimming.

Our admirer went on: “I am a heterosexual male and knowing that there is an outlet and group of artists and business people making sure there are erotic and sexual media for everyone makes me glad to be American.”

Mostly, on those long summer days, there was nothing to do, and that’s what spurred the sense of possibility. We could do anything, or nothing.

We could be anything.

On Our Backs









Later, it was knowing what might be possible that led first to On Our Backs and then to Fatale Video, now us, Fatale Media.

Our admirer concluded, “I think you and your organization are trailblazers that make being human in all aspects better. Sincerely impressed.”

The note was signed simply, “JM.”

To that we say, thank you, JM. Thank you for reminding us of why we’re here, and the possibilities still in sight.

Till next time, we wish you happiness and fabulous sex!

Nan & Christi

P.S.  See all Fatale’s lesbian titles, what calls “the best lesbian porn.”

P.P.S. See pictures of Nan at the Feminist Porn Awards getting the “Trailblazer Award.”

Cosmo Style

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Helen Gurley Brown 1964We were saddened to hear of the passing of Helen Gurley Brown this past week. While not exactly in line with Feminist Beliefs back in the 1970s, she believed in sex. Because of her belief that women could be homemakers or in the workforce and still sexy, we owe her a nod of gratitude.

She pioneered putting sexy women on the pages of Cosmopolitan. It hadn’t been done before.

It wasn’t really until On Our Backs and Fatale Video (now Fatale Media, as you know) came into being that we dykes were able to openly proclaim our sexuality.

It’s hard to imagine now, but 30 years ago there were Take Back the Night Marches in New York and elsewhere, protesting violence against women and protesting porn. The Sex Wars were in full swing.

Forgive us for taking some liberties with history here, but feminists and sex had an uneasy relationship for a while, despite what we were actually doing in bed.

Where did Helen Gurley Brown fit in to all this? Cosmopolitan was a sexist rag, some thought. But then we caught up to Cosmo in a way that we didn’t expect.

Cosmopolitan was one of the first mainstream magazines to jump on Bend Over Boyfriend and take up the issue of “role-reversal fantasy.”

Straight gals had Cosmo. Thanks to Helen Gurley Brown’s passion for sex, straight women didn’t have to be ashamed of sex.

Being out there and sexy was one thing we shared with Helen Gurley Brown. RIP.

Yours in good love and sex,

Nan & Christi

P.S. Get the Bend Over Boyfriend Gift Set and save 15%.

P.P.S. You’re invited: Join Fatale Media on Pinterest. Sexy boards include—“Lesbians We Love,” “LGBTQ Life,” “Femme Thrills,” “Hearts Aflutter,” “Butch,” “Sexy Lesbians” and more. It’s fun!

Takin’ It To the Streets

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

We were in Minneapolis a couple weeks ago, when the Minneapolis SlutWalk took place, on October 1st, 2011.

The Minneapolis SlutWalk video, courtesy of Mill City Times, shows a typical cross-section of relatively young, relatively white Minneapolis, a city that with its sister city of St. Paul has a population of approximately three-quarters of a million people. That’s where Nan went to college, too, at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

SlutWalk Minneapolis was bound to be tamer than SlutWalk London, which was held in June, or SlutWalk New York, which was also held on October 1, 2011.

More men, it seemed, were in attendance at the Minneapolis protest, than at other protests. One was shirtless. The state was breaking autumn heat wave records, and it has turned out to be the hottest stretch in 132 years. In the 80s every day, ugh.

SlutWalks originated last spring 2011 in Toronto, when, according to a CBC report, a Toronto police constable in January told a York University personal security class that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

The antiviolence SlutWalk protests are sex-positive, unlike the mostly anti-porn Take Back the Night marches of the 1970s and 1980s, before women reclaimed their right to be sexual beings.

In response, and an historic turning point, On Our Backs was born, the brainchild of Deborah Sundahl, Nan Kinney, Myrna Elena and Susie Bright.

Women and lesbians began celebrating sex and sexuality in a way they hadn’t before. Women’s desires were shown in all their glory in On Our Backs magazine and those first Fatale videos.

For a perfect example of a now-classic lesbian video, don’t miss Fatale Media’s Clips. Nan and Deb star, and there is one scene in there from Deborah that is still our favorite.

Yours in good love and sex,

Nan & Christi


In Memoriam: Steve Jobs

Friday, October 14th, 2011

We were saddened when Steve Jobs died. We knew that Deborah Sundahl was an early proponent of Apple, Steve Jobs and all subsequent products.

On Our Backs lesbian magazine

Susie Bright wrote a very funny tribute to those early days at On Our Backs, when Deborah would ponder dilemmas with “What would Steve Jobs do?”

“Steve Jobs and the Lesbian Erotic Revolution” is a worthwhile read. Get ready for some laughs. We urge you to subscribe to Susie’s blog too.


Susie Bright’s Tribute

Saturday, October 1st, 2011
Susie Bright and Honey Lee Cottrell

Susie Bright and Honey Lee Cottrell. Credit: Mariette Pathy Allen

Imagine our surprise to learn that Honey Lee Cottrell was being evicted from the apartment she’s had since the early days of On Our Backs.

On Our Backs was the seminal lesbian porn magazine first published by Deborah Sundahl and Myrna Elena. Nan Kinney became publisher not long after that first issue came out, and Susie Bright became editor.

Susie and Honey Lee shared that apartment back in the early days of OOB. Many of the magazine’s sexy shoots took place in it or nearby.

Susie’s piece is an amazing chronicle of the OOB shoots and that apartment on Bessie Street in San Francisco.

There are fabulous pictures in this piece. One in particular, The Voyeur shoot at the York Theater, with Susie, Honey Lee and Nan, brought a big smile to our faces. Nan’s hair!

Read Susie’s piece here:
Annals of Bessie Street: From Revolution to Eviction

<Snip>This Friday I am losing my long-standing home in San Francisco: 25A Bessie Street. My first books Herotica and Susie Sexpert’s Lesbian Sex World were written inside this little nest. I grew up as a young woman in this apartment, my daughter grew up here from infancy to adulthood. The… <snip> Read more.

Here are two good articles about On Our Backs, should you want to know more:

Susie Bright’s remembrance of On Our Backs:

The Wikipedia article about On Our Backs:

Thank you, Susie, for this important piece. We’ve been thinking of you and Honey Lee and that Bessie Street apartment.

Yours in good love and sex,

Christi and Nan

P.S. Check out all Fatale Media’s sexy DVDs.