The birth of Natural Pursuits Magazine
“I got a wild hair to shoot a one-off queer zine in honor of World Naked Gardening Day. The concept: everyone comes over on May 5th, strips down, and creates a magazine about my houseplants. Let me know if you want the details.”
I sent this pitch out widely, mostly to strangers and acquaintances on Instagram. Astoundingly, people said yes.
A few were plant enthusiasts/ exhibitionists who rearranged their work or vacation schedules so they could attend. Others were terrified of the project, but caved, “My FOMO won out.” Most were cautiously interested. Everyone had questions.
Their confusion was warranted. The event was strange. It came about because I wanted to have a little gathering with other queer people who: 1) liked being naked; and, 2) were into houseplants. The problem was I had no idea how to host a [non-sexual] party for a room full of naked people.
Working together to make a magazine was the only idea I had that would keep people occupied for an entire afternoon without things potentially getting awkward.
On the day of the event, people brought their cameras and art supplies, projects for the group, plant masks to wear, and fists full of fresh clippings to share from their indoor gardens. Everyone came prepared in their own way, eager to participate.
We celebrated our shared hobby, our queerness, and our bodies.
This book is filled with the results of our afternoon together. Plant care guides are written with our bad puns. The images betray that everything was created in a New York-sized apartment, forcing photoshoots to happen on top of sketch sessions.
We never really got over being naked. We just got used to it. We got used to each other’s bodies. In a way, we gave each other permission to ogle--you can’t draw or photograph someone without looking. This shared consent built trust.
We were all surprised by the comradery that developed. No one wanted the afternoon to end.
We ended up planning the theme for our next event/magazine. And the one after that. It turns out I lied in my original pitch. This queer zine isn’t one-off at all.