Periodicals of Yesteryear: the Last Issue of The Nose

Edited by Jack Boulware, long before he cofounded San Francisco’s Litquake festival, The Nose ran (sorry) on a roughly bi-monthly schedule from 1989 to 1995. You can read Boulware’s history of this periodical here — he reminisces that The Nose also sold roadkill calendars, that each issue was launched with a crazy themed party, and that “there was lots and lots of drinking,” a claim I have little reason to doubt.

Boulware writes, “At the time I was obsessed with the magazines of Robert Harrison from the late 40s and early 50s, titles like Confidential and Whisper. The graphics were bold and outrageous, and the language was tight, tales about fighting animals and VD in the Navy, and Frank Sinatra eating Wheaties to keep up his stamina during a weekend tryst. And yet in the day, these were the most popular magazines in America.”

Suavely dysfunctional, obsessed with monstrosities, conspiracy theories, and alternativeness-for-its-own-sake, The Nose’s kink-themed issue #26 is very San Francisco. Reading it transports me back to 1995, a now-remote era characterized by reality TV and Newt Gingrich. (Although for some reason, those phenomena are still around.)

From issue #26 I learn that in 1995, a couple in the Bay Area could book a flight in a single-engine plane, for the purpose of having sex while airbourne, for only $275. One shudders to think how much you would be set back financially by a similar experience today. Commendably, all of page 18 is devoted to exposing the fact that many stories published in Story magazine in the mid-1990s featured oral sex.

Comedian Patton Oswalt writes about the phenomenon of giantess erotica, and especially about Ed Lundt, who he describes as the “Emile Zola of Brobdingnagian porn.” Regarding male fantasies of being crushed by giant women, Oswalt comments, “In this age of cynicism, bipartisanship and personal cowardice, it’s refreshing to find a group of people willing to die for what they believe.”

Not a sentiment you encounter much nowadays. Issue #26 also features naked breasts, retrospectively poignant ads for San Francisco businesses that have since folded, Jeb Bush cocaine rumors, remarkably laid-back contributor bios, and a feature on the Museum of Menstruation in Harry Finley’s basement in Maryland, which I hear has since closed for public safety reasons. All in all, this is an invaluable cultural document, a sort of alternative men’s magazine perpetuating San Francisco’s image as the natural home of workaholic slackers. In keeping with the long-standing tradition established by last week’s piece on Might, I will send my copy of The Nose #26 to whoever first requests it from me at jameswarner@identitytheory.com.
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