In some ways the internet has made sex easier: Partners are easier to find and porn is ever more abundant. But the internet hasn’t done much to change its status as the most intense way to get to know another person IRL. For that, there’s Secret Behavior, a year-old art magazine with the tagline, “What intimacy looks like.”
Secret Behavior is the brainchild of 49-year-old artist and father of three James Gallagher, and an extension of the raw, stream-of-consciousness collages he has been making since an early midlife crisis and breakup 15 years ago. He began reading old books about human sexuality, cutting them up and creating new story lines, partly as therapy. “I had to step out from behind this normal, domestic life, out into the open,” Gallagher told the Cut. “I was looking for intimacy and I was looking for relationships, physical or otherwise, and my artwork started to go there intuitively.”
The vulnerability paid off. He’d been struggling as an illustrator, he said, and people noticed his artwork for the first time: “It was real and it was personal, and people related to it” — in particular, the horny-but-sensitive types who coalesce on Tumblr, where Gallagher kept an online mood board. He launched the printed and bound version last year, adding new contemporary art, meditations on classics, poetry, and essays. The first issue, which explored anonymity, is full of emotional money shots: self-portraits of men’s feet when they climax from masturbation (paired with their responses to the artist’s wanted ad), breakup fiction by Catherine Lacey, Jesper Fabricius’s anatomical encyclopedia made from close-cropped pornography.
Sex, Gallagher said, is just one aspect of Secret Behavior’s mission to “embrace the human experience completely.” Issue No. 2, previewed here, focuses on the family. “I want to eliminate all of the unnecessary distractions of current events and brands and just be personal, raw, straightforward as possible,” he said. It’s not suitable for work, but mostly on account of the feels.