You may know him as the “robe guy,” but Kyle Schiller ’17 has much more going for him than his unconventional wardrobe choices. He is, among other things, a thespian, a writer, a Mock Trial lawyer, a foodie, an anime enthusiast, and a connoisseur of French culture.
Recently, Schiller embraced yet another interest in a tangible way: he, along with Jonathan Chow ’17 and Lydia Ding ’17, will put out Carleton’s first erotica publication today.
I sat down with Kyle to discuss how Thrust, the current title for the project, came to be.
“I was hanging out in the GSC with Jonathan Chow, and we were reading ‘One-Handed Read’ in the magazine Bust. We were talking about how it’s not actually that feminist. They still do a lot of the cliché stuff that normal magazines do. One of us came up with this idea to start an erotic magazine.”
Enter the fruit-laden advertising. “We started coming up with posters. At first, it was just the banana one.” When Ding pointed out that the banana was somewhat exclusionary, more posters with various other fruits were disseminated.
The sources of inspiration for Thrust are myriad. “So basically the idea is that we get all this education, right, during NSW. They stick us all in this room and tell us that consent is sexy and that rape is bad and rape jokes are bad.”
But Schiller does not think the discussion should stop there. While interest groups promote interesting dialogue surrounding issues including sexuality on campus, those discussions do not tend to reach everyone. “I feel like Carleton is composed of all of these very insulate groups. Only TRIO people go to TRIO events, etc.” A publication that people can pick up when they walk into Sayles has a potentially wider audience.
“There’s this bias where, generally speaking, the people talking about sexuality are the people who are fairly knowledgeable and informed. Same goes for race. Those people are eager to have those discussions. Even though a lot of what’s said is positive, I don’t think that’s an accurate representation of campus culture.”
Schiller points to his participation in Msex, his Mysticism class, and conversations with other students as influences. “Talking to asexuals on campus. I want to peel apart this idea of what is sexual and what is erotic. In Mysticism, we’ve been reading a lot of erotic Christian mystical poetry, and it’s not sexual. I wanted to push the feminist agenda through the propagation of healthier sex narratives, while at the same time separating the erotic and the sexual.”
“We’ve also been talking about feminist porn in Msex. We can’t film that on campus, but maybe we can have feminist erotica. As editors we have some control, but we can’t publish anything that people don’t write.”
One might garner from his enthusiasm for the project that Schiller is a seasoned writer of erotica, but that is not actually the case. He has not written erotica before, though he plans to contribute some to Thrust. As for reading it, he has had a little more exposure. “I’ve read a little. I wouldn’t say that I’ve read a lot. I’m using the genre because it talks about sex in a way that is not common.”
Schiller has a vision for what Thrust can be for Carleton, and achieving that might include a bit of outsourcing. “I’m hoping to have one or two series articles. I’m hoping to get one from a woman at Macalester, Ariel Estrella, who writes a series called ‘Bringing Sexy Mac.’”
When asked what he was looking for in submissions, Schiller answered cheekily, “Their existence.”
He expanded, saying, “I want submissions that explore the furthest corners of what is erotic, and by that I don’t mean diving into esoteric fetishes. I want these submissions to take something not usually seen as erotic and make the claim that it is. There’s this piece of art on display in Boliou that says: “I want to replace voyeurism with appreciation.” And I like that.”