Room for one more? Crave magazine seeks a niche

Crave Magazine (cravewomen.co.uk) was launched late last year to murmurings of a handsome promise it would be an intelligent, lesbian-produced magazine that women of all sexualities could enjoy.

I eagerly accessed the website, which greeted me with the strapline with “the gay lifestyle magazine for women.” Right then. Let’s try that in another context. “The new American ex pat magazine that all nationalities can enjoy” “The new Catholic magazine people of all faiths can enjoy”. “The new Afro-Caribbean hairdressing magazine that people with all hairstyles can enjoy”  Do you see the point here, vis a vis not the most inclusive start?

From a professional point of view, a number of subbing errors quickly become apparent in the magazine whilst flicking through. (And, since half of my official day job is Rubbish Sub Editor, if I notice them, then they really are…) Sporadically hyphenating the word ‘bisexual’, and blank pages where ads were presumably supposed to be don’t help either either. They could have adorned the blank white space with a bit of explanatory text: “To advertise your sex toy retailer, health farm or cat sanctuary on this page, email us!”

Bitching out of the way, and Crave is pleasingly high on the “Super-Cool, Super Intelligent Thesps I Want Lunch with” count. I head straight (groan) to the interview with issue two’s cover star Emily Blunt, who discusses her teenage insecurities and being scared of confident 16-year-old girls  It’s  peculiar reading to someone who has seen Emily being interviewed and felt vaguely disheartened that such a cool and collected woman can have been born within a year of a fledgling journalist who has a date once every three years and gets lost in Fringe theatres, but I’ll take her word for it. Further on, actress Sophie Ward, star of a recent production of Noel Coward’s Private Lives discusses the concept of privacy and how it applies to public figures, particularly in relation to gay people feeling under obligation to discuss aspects of their sex lives with virtual strangers in a way heterosexual couples would rarely need to contemplate.

Next, the eagerly-anticipated spread on bisexuality. Having dealt with the inevitable “Why Do Lesbians Hate Bisexuals?” in issue one, issue two presents a first-person article written by a bisexual woman contentedly married to a man. A refreshing angle, given the stereotype that either bisexuals can’t be monogamous, or that sexual fluidity vanishes into the ether when bisexuals are in relationships with gay or straight people. “Jane”’s story is an interesting read. She writes of facing the dilemma of “settling down” at a point when the person she was in love with happened to be a man, hence her decision to marry and access the privileges of the heterosexual lifestyle: including the ease of starting a family. Though she understandably gives few specific details of her relationship history, she distinguishes her bisexuality from “fashion-led celebrities who use it as a publicity tool”. She attributes her physical and emotional interest in other women to the “common bond” shared by those of the same sex, and is honest about the temptation her attraction brings, including a crush on a lesbian friend at a running club, but says:

“For me, being bisexual is not a sex thing, and that’s the biggest misconception of all…how many times have I heard or read ‘They want the best of both worlds.’ Well, that depends what best is, for a start. In my eyes, it’s having a great relationship with someone , man or woman. Someone you feel comfortable with, and who accepts you for what you are. If that is all in place, then yes, the sex will be great too.”

Jane concludes that it would be interesting to continue this philosophical discourse on her sexuality with her husband. Just one snag: he doesn’t know she’s bisexual. I’ll reserve judgement on whether you can feel as comfortable as she claims to feel in a marriage without discussing a significant part of your personal life with your partner and congratulate her for speaking out.

Like the bisexual woman featured in their letters page, I am pleased Crave have delivered on featuring issues specifically relevant to bisexual people. I will push the boat out and also hope for a range of bisexual voices across the magazine in relation to more general topics too. Bi authors/films in the reviews section, items in the news pages and carrying wider features (crushes on straight women, same-sex weddings) written by/for bi people to whom these may be relevant just as well, rather than lesbians referring to “being lesbian” throughout would all be welcome. Of course, bi visibility starts with bi people, and Crave, being a wee baby of a magazine, seems very receptive to contributors. Get scribbling if you have a story to tell or a feature you would like to see.

Maxine Frances