“We were trying to capture an openness, wittiness, and grooviness that we couldn’t find anywhere else,” says Bright, 60, now a widely published writer and columnist, mainly on the topic of sex.
From the beginning, the magazine ran personal ads from readers all over the country, many of whom lived far from the gay meccas of San Francisco, where On Our Backs was headquartered, and New York City.
lusting for sweaty dyke athletes, pumped-up bodybuilders, and handsome, hot women in uniform to quell the ache in my loins”); others were more cerebral (“Thinking Lesbians …
I like everything from Vixen to Wagner”).“We thought they were so clever,” says Bright.
The whole thing began as a lesson in lesbian history for Kelly Rakowski, 38, a photo editor at Metropolis.On top of that were the more puritanical strains of the feminist movement: Among a subset of radical queer feminists, including some lesbians, porn was viewed as an instrument of the patriarchy, an evil beyond redemption.Into that sex-starved void, On Our Backs cast its net.In an era when being openly queer was dangerous, even illegal, the On Our Backs personals provided a safe, anonymous space for women to express their desires — the weirder, the better.
Some of the ads were blatantly horny (“Wanted: Frenetic Mons Grinder …She’d already been following the account just for fun; she enjoyed reading what people wrote about themselves (e.g., “local scammer, pretty boi femme & intermittent wig wearer”) and what they were looking for in a relationship (“sexy, thoughtful extroverts to deep dive into romance,” or, alternatively, “just looking for queer friends willing to talk about experimental music, anti-capitalist ideas, Greek food & cute dogs”). “I’ve been trying to figure this stuff out for a minute.” And she liked the idea that anyone in the world might see it and write back, like sending a message in a bottle.That clarity appealed to her, especially after a recent streak of underwhelming dates. With the help of some close friends, Lula came up with her own ad (a snippet: “31 y/o watery & sassy black femme looking to be spoiled, spanked & appreciated like I deserve”).As she scrolled through the xeroxed back pages, she discovered the women-seeking-women ads that would become the inspiration for @herstorypersonals.