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Credit: Max Mester

After more than a decade out of print, two students are relaunching Quake Magazine, Penn's only sex and sexuality publication.

The magazine aims to highlight the appreciation of bodies, relationships, sex, and love of all kinds through an inclusive, artful space. Content will include all types of creative expression, including photography, personal narratives, poetry, and art. Quake's board will curate content for print by accepting independent submissions from contributors on a rolling basis.

“We’re excited to see what people make of Quake this time around because the structure puts creative direction in the hands of the contributors,” co-editor in chief and College junior Sarah Finkelstein said.

Quake first operated from 2005-2007, then was revived once in 2008, although its tenure was short-lived, Kelly Writers House Director Jessica Lowenthal said. In each case, the program ran out of funding and faced conservative criticism from alumni opposed to the explicit content, Finkelstein said.

Finkelstein and co-editor-in-chief College sophomore Layla Murphy, a former Daily Pennsylvanian staffer, decided to relaunch the magazine in September when Finkelstein’s friend, an archivist at Kelly Writers House, discovered issues of the original Quake Magazine. Compelled by the magazine's potential to be an honest, accessible, and artful outlet, Murphy said the pair decided to make the magazine their own. 

With new creative direction, the co-editors believe that they are less likely to face the criticism which accompanied the publication in the past.

“Penn right now is a different place than it was in the early 2000s. It’s better for us in our goal, which is not to be subversive or to have shock value, but to make the conversation artful,” Finkelstein said.

Though they are aware of the shadow the previous iteration could cast on their aspirations, Finkelstein and Murphy are optimistic about the new place Quake could have in the Penn community.

“Sex culture is one of the few things [on Penn’s campus] that there exists a lot of, but that there is not a mouth for," Murphy said. "If there is a platform, energy around the topic will have a place to go. We want to give positivity around bodies, genders, and sexualities that are marginalized a space to grow.”

As in the past, the publication does require legal counseling to ensure that explicit or erotic material is handled sensitively. Lowenthal, who is serving as an advisor to Quake, has connected the editors with Penn's Office of General Counsel, and is helping them navigate the Student Activities Council funding process and providing them with general oversight.

Although they haven't yet received SAC funding, Quake was able to secure seed funding from The Fund for Feminist Projects through Kelly Writers House. The fund supports initiatives that examine solutions to gender hierarchies through various mediums. Another student publication, Penn Appétit, was similarly started with seed funding from Kelly Writers House, Lowenthal said. 

“Issues of safety and privacy are much more at the forefront now than they were with the previous iteration. I expect there will be a different emphasis. People were less familiar and less ready to talk about sex in a public, educational way,” Lowenthal said.

Quake anticipates hiring a staff of fewer than 20 people, which will be led by department heads. Due to internet restrictions on erotic content, the publication will only appear in print, although Quake will share some promotional and educational content online.

Quake is currently accepting applications for its board through Feb. 14. The first print issue is set to debut between late April and early May.

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