MEDIA PROFILE: It takes a gutsy story, not one that's in the gutter, to get into Nerve

Nerve.com is not pornography, and it isn't erotica. It's somewhere in between, in an area that's explored with a unique look at everything from politics to art. So a pitch can't just be about sex.

Nerve.com is not pornography, and it isn't erotica. It's somewhere in between, in an area that's explored with a unique look at everything from politics to art. So a pitch can't just be about sex.

A dot-com descendant of the 1960s and '70s sexual revolution, Nerve has over the last six years evolved from a literary and photography webzine into an intelligent and humorous celebration of what happens between the covers, supplemented by coverage of alternative media, independent film, and music. The idea that grew into Nerve began when its founder, Rufus Griscom, saw a need for a magazine that was less about the physicality of sex than the delicate balance between sexual taboos and sexual liberation. Its material can't be called pornography, nor can it be lumped into the gauzy world of erotica. Instead, the site attempts to find the middle ground between the two, with hard-hitting, vivid, and topical content that is as much about literature, art, and politics as it is about arousal. "Nerve's message is not fundamentally about pro-sex liberation," says CEO and publisher Rufus Griscom. "Who cares? We're more interested in changing sexual identities, and the personal essay is very powerful. With both our photography and our writing, we're looking for raw and honest material. Cosmopolitan and Maxim are magazines about sex that pretend to be general-interest, whereas we are a magazine about general interest that pretends to be about sex." Nerve speaks to its readers in a culturally knowing, playful, and intelligent tone. It is experimental, daring, and teasing, and its editors and writers find no shame in pushing the envelope. "We're doing sex, relationships, and gender stories," says editor-in-chief Michael Martin. "The central theme of our pieces is the name of our site, the singular meaning of the nerve ending. Our stories have guts and wit, and put things in a different perspective and expose or deconstruct things in a way that no one else will. We'll as easily do a story on why Six Feet Under is the sexiest show on TV - because it accurately depicts generational relationships - as we'll do a story on The Anna Nicole Show, which we find highly offensive." As Nerve has matured, so has its coverage of music, books, movies, and TV. The Screening Room section includes reviews and interviews with hot, hip, and daring new talent. It is also in the process of becoming a lifestyle magazine for its young, urban hipster readership. While Martin appreciates the pitches he gets, he'd like more. "I'd like to see more from the publishing industry," says Martin. "We're going through catalogues and The New York Times ourselves, and asking for books. It strikes me as funny that we're one of the few outlets for original fiction speaking to a young audience about sex and relationships, but we're not pitched with it as much. The music and film pitches are good, although I often get pitches from publicists I already know." Pitches should be sent to Martin by e-mail. When appropriate, the e-mail should be followed by a CD or tape, which can make an otherwise unsuccessful pitch. The cable network Showtime pitched a story on its documentary series Family Business, which Martin wasn't initially interested in. But he changed his mind when the tape arrived, and Nerve ran an interview with the star, Adam Glasser, who is a producer of adult movies. Jonathan Kaplan of Formula PR pitches Nerve on a regular basis. He has successfully landed a few stories, including one on The Streets, a British rap act. Kaplan says the editors are receptive, and he recommends a casual approach, along with an understanding of Nerve's witty, sexual, and imaginative content. "In a way, it's quite a hard pitch because it's not the kind of publication that will cover anything," says Kaplan. "They're very picky about what they like, which is good. If they covered every artist I pitched it would reflect badly on the site. I'll only pitch on new, breaking artists of a sexual nature." But sometimes getting one's mind out of the gutter actually makes getting into Nerve easier. "There is a perception that Nerve is just a sex magazine," says Martin. "People often aren't aware that we do culture, music, and film coverage too. I'd advise publicists to check into the site and get familiar with our content. We're proud of our sexy photos, but we're more proud of our challenging, oblique stories and our gutsy material." ----- Contact list Nerve.com Address 520 Broadway, 6th floor New York, NY 10012 Tel (212) 625-9914, ext. 227 Fax (212) 625-8929 E-mail syntax firstname@nerve.com Editor-in-chief Michael Martin Photography Editor Virginia Conesa Editor Emma Taylor Editor Lorelei Sharkey Associate Editor Grant Stoddard Associate Editor Sam Apple Assistant Editor Carrie Hill Wilner

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