Back Stories – who is Robin Bougie?

Who is Robin Bougie?

Well, up until a couple of weeks ago, I had absolutely no idea.

However, a series of fortunate circumstances and happy accidents recently acquainted me with this character Robin… a man who I can best describe as a the creator and publisher of “dirty comics.” But really, that capture is pedestrian at best.

In chatting with Robin, I learned that he’s Canadian (what is it with Canadians being so awesome lately?!), that he once lived in The Land of Junior Mint, and that there was waaay more to his work and art than just “dirty comics.”

Robin creates and publishes two folios: the movie zine Cinema Sewer, an adults only guide to history’s sickest and sexiest classic porn, exploitation, grindhouse, horror, and cult films; and the hardcore annual comic, Sleazy Slice.

But what the heck do comic books, hardcore film/cultural review or otherwise, have to do with adult production and PVV? Well, you’re just going to have to read on to find out!!

Soooo dear Mr. Bougie… what exactly do you do, and how is it “adult related”?

“I publish an annual offset-printed 48-page movie zine called Cinema Sewer; and I draw hardcore porn comics, which I usually publish in a 64-page compilation called Sleazy Slice.

Cinema Sewer is like a movie magazine/hand-written letter from a friend who really likes skeezy movies. Now, imagine said friend is an artist who uses comics and a comic book aesthetic to create nudity and sex-packed illustrations… all with the intention of delving into classic porn (1971 to 1985), sexploitation films (softcore porn made in the 60s), drive-in movies, horror movies, underground video mixtapes, and various other types of cult exploitation cinema.

I am the editor, publisher, writer, and illustrator, although there are other contributors who write and illustrate as well. I wear my sexual interests/fetishes/perversions on my sleeve and love getting feedback about the creative work that I loudly fart into the cultural atmosphere.

[and as an aside, bebes – Robin’s description of his work is (obviously) spot on; however, the only way to really understand what he creates is to actually see it… his books are quite astounding]

(pictured: the man and some of his work)

Ummm… wow. How in the world did you get into this?

Graduated high school. Self taught artist and writer with a background in self-publishing. I worked for a few years in porn industry journalism, writing for magazines like Fox and Lollipops. I also had a full-page column that I wrote and illustrated in New York’s Screw magazine for the last three years that it was around.

Ahhh adult journalism… So I get the ‘industry connection’ there, but how exactly did you get into creating these porn review comic amalgamations? They’re pretty unique…

Well, I’ve drawn and published my comics and writing since I was 17 (I’m 37 now), so creating in that medium is just what I do. It’s all I know. Considering my voracious appetite for violent and/or sexual imagery in the various forms of entertainment I consume, it just feels natural to spew that kind of thing back out into the world.

Mostly I just love to either try to weird myself out with my own work or do something that I think is neat or sexy. If anyone else likes it, that’s gravy – but really this whole creating art thing is mostly masturbatory for me. I get off on it. It makes me feel great.

Interesting… correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds to me like there’s a lot of self-exploration in your work?

At the end of the day, eros is just like humor in that everyone has a totally different and deeply personal idea of what is funny and/or sexy. So all you can really do as an artist or writer is speak to the truth you know; and, in the case of porn, that truth is what turns you on.

If you accomplish that, there is an excellent chance that you’ll probably find a like-minded and appreciative audience. A well-crafted porn comic not only channels the physical aspects of sex, it also gets into the plumbing of the mind (which is where the real fun can be had).

Then, not only can you arouse your audience – you can also make them think. My favorite porn is that which confuses the hell out of me.

It’s so funny that you say that as adult content generally has the reputation of being the opposite of thought provoking…

So, given your medium, your subject matter, and the sleazy slice of life you offer therein, how do you see your work fitting in to the mainstream, adult, and/or artistic communities?

The writing about porn movies that I do in Cinema Sewer would seem to have a place in the mainstream somehow, but I’m not really sure how my square peg will be shoved into such a round hole. Mainstream America is obsessed with porn and sex, but they kinda keep it at arms’ length, like a cousin they desperately want to hump but don’t want to be judged…

[ha!! so so SO true!!]

…the modern adult industry wants very little to do with me, since all I write about is old movies, and it’s kinda hard to jerk off to cartoon drawings. I’m too dirty for the comic stores, not artistic enough for the galleries, and there isn’t enough flesh for the raincoat crowd. I’m underground by default, so I’m thankful for the internet – I’d just be some street crazy throwing my dirty pamphlets at annoyed people otherwise!

Awww you’re a lone wolf Robin!! So many influences and conversations, too unique for all of them – I feel ya ;)

One thing I find really interesting and powerful about your work is the historical nature of your commentary… Like, for example, your “Ginger Snatch – a childhood spent smitten with Miss Lynn” piece in the most recent installment of Cinema Sewer (#24).

Ginger Lynn Allen is a cultural icon and has been for decades, but the historical depth associated with the industry (of which she is but one example) often seems lost on both civilians and insiders… what do you think about that?

Honestly, I’m continually bummed by how little so many modern porn performers know about the history of the industry they work in – something I spend so much time researching. I mean, there are exceptions to the rule (the lovely Miss Sasha Grey gave a shit about such things, for instance), but mostly it is pretty bleak.

Many people know Linda Lovelace, John Holmes, and Ron Jeremy, but that is pretty much it, and those are only really because the former two have had mainstream movies made about them and Ron’s fat hairy ass is totally boiler plate. It would be like working as a Hollywood actor for years and having no idea who Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire, and Elizabeth Taylor are. It’s the equivalent of an entire league of today’s baseball players having no idea who Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Hank Aaron are.

In any other industry, no one would take a fucking word you said seriously if you were that devoid of the most basic knowledge about the history of your chosen craft. I want to see porn performers finally exit this ghetto of stupidity where they are considered himbos and dumb whores and not expected to know anything aside from how to look onscreen and how to douche their ass before they do an anal scene.

The history of this genre is astonishing, and it needs to be kept alive and vital. I do what I can to make sure that happens.

Such a good point Robin!! For sure adult performers are very busy simply trying to get their work done on a daily basis, but a happy medium between awareness of everything and knowledge of nothing would be nice!!

But I think that the general lack of awareness which, I agree, seems to exist may also have to do with some wider social issues – namely, many cultures’ ambivalence about the industry. I mean, I know nothing about baseball but I’m at least familiar with all those names you just listed because they’re a part of ‘Americana.’ Perhaps if the adult industry wasn’t so shunned from wider culture, there would be a little more awareness simply by proxy? It’s an interesting thought.

And these sorts of tensions make me think about another age-old rhetorical battle – ‘porn’ vs ‘erotica.’ Thoughts? Where do you fit in?

There is an old joke that erotica is stimulating your lover with a feather, and porn is when you use the whole chicken… which is funny because it speaks to the idea that separation between the two is a matter of degrees.

In a social context, I find it to be a distinction made out of fear. Erotica is a banner that artists, writers, and filmmakers grip tightly so as not to be pulled down in the gutter and censored and mixed in with all the good sweaty, sticky filth.

You can’t get grants or be taken seriously if you don’t play up the ‘artistic content.’ It’s all the same stuff – designed to titillate, designed to provoke a response. A good porn comic creator understands this and uses it to their advantage.

To put this in some perspective, when I am interviewed, usually by mainstream newspaper or radio sources who assume their readers don’t have the same open perspective on XXX that I do, I am often asked if I consider my dirty comics erotica or porn. It’s quite funny seeing the way some of them spring it on me, as if it’s some kindof  ‘GOTCHA!’ moment in the interview. It’s as if they expect me to be bamboozled by the question and not know how to answer because, obviously, no TRUE artist would want to classify what they do as porn and lose all of their artistic credibility.

…incidentally, I hope my sarcasm is coming across here because I am rolling my goddamn eyes so hard they are leaving skid-marks in my sockets…

I always answer quite proudly that what I create is obviously packed with pornographic elements and that I fail to see a true difference between ‘erotica’ and ‘porn.’

And, if I really want to throw it back at them, I’ll inform them that masturbating to what I create is the ultimate way to compliment me.

(pictured: hardcore comics… who knew?!!)

Fan-fucking-tastic!! When it comes to sex and porn, this sort of fear based decision-making is so so prevalent. Oh the stories I could share, but I will simply borrow from AK when I say ‘well said, and said well’ Robin.

But, and only because I’m dying for your perspective on this, I must change the subject some… What’s the deal with porn and comics as a subculture? I’m thinking porn stars signing at Comic-Con and the like…

Porn and comics overlap seamlessly. It all comes back to one thing: fantasy. Bringing a fantasy to life. And beauty. All the kinds of beauty – both stereotypical beauty and the beauty found in ugly, disturbing things. Sometimes I get crushes on characters in really good adult comics. I love that feeling.

Porn stars at Comic-Con fittogether like flies on poop. Back in the day, before Comic-Con really blew up and you started getting celebs from all walks of the entertainment industry, local San Diego hookers used to show up in Black Widow, Supergirl, and Catwoman costumes. From what I hear, they would do quite well because they knew that particular fantasy would sell. Know your audience, right?

Haha well now that you put it that way, it does make perfect sense!! So, what else do you do?

You know, I’m pretty unsocial for the most part, but I have a really close group of friends. My pal Maxine Frank and I get together every Friday afternoon to draw porn comics at a local coffee shop together. I also work in an indy videostore and spend a lot of time with my wife, who is also an artist. She works in the animation industry and also draws comics professionally. Her name is Rebecca Dart.

My life is pretty low key really – I don’t smoke, don’t drive, don’t really spend any money on gadgets or stuff. I’m happy as a clam though!

(pictured: if you got to draw this stuff, you’d probably be happy as a clam too!!)

Ahhh… a simple kinda life!! It sounds as though you have the sweetest gig ever with awesome people around you, but I’m still sickly curious… Has creating the sort of art you do affected your personal life at all?

I’ve made some friends and lost some friends over it, which I guess is natural. Often it’s like a resume that I send out into the world that brings both bad and awesome things back my way, but mostly awesome.

Unlike our live-action counterparts, porn comic creators have traditionally made very little money and gotten very little recognition for their work. And yet, we still plug away at it. We do that not because we think that one day we might strike it rich or get famous, but because we simply must do it.

I mean, first and foremost, you’re trying to make something that is entertaining to yourself. You’re taking your skills pertaining to art and storytelling and using them to better understand human sexuality.

Moreover, to use this medium is to perhaps exorcise some demons. I think every one of us has dirty little fantasies and a story line that we play out in our minds when we close our eyes and manipulate our genitalia. One should have a creative outlet that provides a direct line to those inner-workings and dramas – a direct line to your naked primal, underbelly.

You have to air out that mental blanket or it gets moldy and gross. I think it’s really healthy.”

Damn.

A curator of adult content via artistic, creative expression. A creator of a most interesting and unexpected, but fairly logical, form of  “therapy.” A person unafraid of calling it like it is, even when “it” is his own work. That would be Robin Bougie.

I am so happy that I got this opportunity to learn about yet another dimension of adult production, art, and history (and to share it with you all, bebes!!). Although he may be floating out in a space all his own, Robin’s work explores a dimension of the industry and the adult psyche that few have the courage to even engage. Plus he knows a lot about the history of production… which, as a comparative historical socio/pornologist, totally gets me off.

Trust me, bebes – to see Cinema Sewer and Sleazy Slice in person are to understand them on a whole different level. Check out Robin’s work and his thoughts about life in general on CinemaSewer.com and via Cinema Sewer’s online journal.

You can also be Robin’s friend on facebook and/or join Cinema Sewer’s fanpage. You will love it. I promise.

(pictured: does Robin have as much porn as I do? not quite… but still!!)

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Questions? Comments? Email me!!

All images courtesy of Robin Bougie.

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