A Bit of History
- Written by Sam Beasley
What does "L'Allure des Mots" actually mean, anyway? If you speak French (or Googled it), you already know. If not, read on.
Before I get to that though, a little (okay, a long) backstory is in order.
The road to the L'Allure des Mots of today was a meandering one. Like the beginnings of many a hair-brained scheme, the idea for the original incarnation of L'Allure des Mots started off as a joke. (And that joke of an idea, as you'll soon see, was not for a magazine at all.)
About three years ago, Katherine and I were chattering on about who knows what one day, and somehow one of us jokingly suggested that there should be a website of just nude women reading books. Not in a that's-some-really-weird-porn kind of way, but a she's-literally-just-reading-a-book-and-that's-it kind of way. There's no telling how this thought came to be, and we can't remember whether Katherine or I thought of it first. Frankly it doesn't matter at this point, as many strange thoughts cross both our minds every day.
But I digress.
After the initial "Yeah, someone should do that" went away, our next collective thought was, "Well, why not us?"
To be sure, the idea of women reading literature in the buff could come off as just plain silly. As bizarre as the idea might seem (or not, if you think like us), I should explain a little more about Katherine and I. We're both photographers. Along with fashion photography, we at times both incorporate nudity into our personal work. We think the nude body is something to be celebrated. And if you've ever worked with a nude model before, as in the words of a photography instructor I'll never forget, "Nude people are fun!" (it's true!). At the very least, we think nudity isn't something that should even be an issue. It should just be.
We also love the arts, literature, and most any creative outlet. Literature in particular we feel doesn't get as much love in the mainstream as it deserves.
Another small (but relevant) digression. Back to our story.
At this point, of course we had to look up if something like this already existed. To our surprise, something very similar did exist in the form of Naked Girls Reading (NGR). NGR is a live event of "a group of beautiful ladies who love to read...naked." I've never seen one of their shows, but from what I've gathered, it comes down to the juxtaposition of bodies and words, thereby resulting in it's own form of performance art.
"Is it crazy we're actually thinking about doing this?"
The notion of "this is kind of already being done" notwithstanding—great artists steal after all, right?—we had an uphill battle. While NGR exists in the live performance burlesque space, we wanted to bring our own take on it from a fashion/fine art space to the Internet. We wanted to merge the beauty of the female form and words that spoke to us (if you will) and present it in a way that was beautiful, sexy even, but not salacious.
After we shot a few test videos, we thought we were on to something. You know that feeling you get when you happen upon this thing that's completely amazing that nobody else has seen? Yeah, we felt like that.
Energized by our "discovery", and after the initial half-assed attempt at researching to see if this idea was remotely viable, we decided to proceed because, "Hey, fun!" What we discovered is that selling videos online involving nudity of any kind in the United States is not easy. In fact, for two people with no budget, it's downright impossible.
The problem? Most payment processors won't touch it. In the U.S., by and large, nudity is a big no-no. As you may guess, this is most certainly a problem we take issue with, and something we could discuss at length, but I'll save that for another post for another day.
Again back to our story. We tried a less-than-satisfactory workaround with a company across the pond, but the videos couldn't be front-and-center on the site; they were hidden behind a membership paywall that ultimately just didn't work.
And this is when the idea started to change.
After some mutations and evolutions, the videos are still alive after a fashion, but they're not the idea anymore. Dealing with a stigma that forces something so fundamentally a part of ourselves to be seen as shameful and dirty, it became clear then that there was the seed of our new idea: something based on opposing arbitrary censorship in our own small way, staying true to the most fundamental parts of ourselves, and celebrating the entirety of the human experience. Something formed from our love of the arts and literature, made with the help of others who shared the same (sometimes odd, but never boring) sensibilities we had.
After a little more evolution, the site turns into a magazine that embraces these ideals, and the rest, as they say, is history.
After it's all said and done, we're eternally grateful and humbled for where we've ended up. We've met so many amazing writers, artists, and photographers we never would have met if the site had kept going as originally planned. We hope to keep continuing on with you in our present form, but always evolving.
Yes, we're just a magazine, and we try not to take ourselves too seriously, but we have dreams, and we're serious about those (dammit).
Oh, and "L'Allure des Mots"? It means, loosely, "style of words". Fitting, eh?