Almost a decade ago, a woman named Laura Roberts reached out to me with some compliments on my blogging skillz (has it been that long? Jeez). She was also a blogger and also interested in sex. Soon, we had developed a correspondence — about writing, about sex, about writing about sex — and when Laura launched the web zine Black Heart Magazine in 2004, I was one of the first people she asked to submit a piece.
Eventually, I’d join the Black Heart team as a sporadic columnist and sex news reporter, or, what Laura called “in-house badass.” Without any hesitation about the combination of sex and cultural commentary, Black Heart ran four shorts from my series on consumerism and apathy in America, an ode to Hunter S. Thompson aptly titled Reverse Cowgirl: A Savage Thrust into the Cunt of the American Dream.
That was the thing about Black Heart — it was sex, yes, even shallow, just-in-it-to-get-off sex — but it wasn’t afraid to be smart, either. That’s what I liked best about the rag. Whether she was flashing her tits for cheap thrills or charity or getting into huge arguments with Vladimir Nabokov’s son about the legacy of Lolita, Laura Roberts made Black Heart a combination of the filthiest gutter and ivory tower.
In the years that Black Heart was running, whether I was writing or not, Laura and I kept in touch. We talked about how hard it was to monetize content like ours, to herd around writers who were doing it more for the love than for the money, to keep the content of a publication consistent with its original vision even though you, the person running it, are not static.
I learned more about running a blog from Laura and Black Heart than from just about anyone or anything else on the web. And that’s saying something considering the kind of web pioneers I count as my nearest and dearest.
So even if you have no idea what Black Heart Magazine was, know this: if you like this blog, if anything you have read here, has offered you absolutely anything, then you owe a thank you to that little zine.
The Black Heart chapter is closed now. Laura has moved on to other things. We’ll make a valiant effort to continue the tradition of mingling the filthiest gutter and ivory tower.
You’ll be missed, Black Heart. And thank you for everything. Especially this:
We’re humbled and honored.