We heard there was a new nudie mag created in San Francisco. It's called BelleSF, and it's got a flirty-cool retro aesthetic, without feeling too much like it's just cribbing pin-up culture.
We were already intrigued, and then we found out about the magazine's ties to the Haight: its managing editor lives here, its founder used to live here (next to Rasputin), it showcases local artists, and it features articles about issues close to our hearts, like San Francisco bacon trends and the Google bus. We had to know more.
We reached out to David and Melissa Beaulieu, the husband-and-wife founders of BelleSF. They're super busy with production of their second issue, but they were kind enough to answer some questions for us.
Tell us about BelleSF. It looks sort of offbeat for a nudie mag. What was your inspiration for the aesthetic?
"The idea for BelleSf came up a few years ago when my wife and I were looking at some old Playboys while lamenting the lack of magazine choices in SF. We'd always loved the aesthetic of vintage nudie mags - the women looked like women (not Barbie dolls), their bodies were real, the kitschy ads were fun, and the writing was respected. A lot of people don't remember that old mags like that ran 300 pages so the amount of editorial content was immense. We thought, why don't we do that here. So we did. "
You're based locally, right? How much of the content is local?
"Melissa and I live in fabulous Glen Park. We've been here for 20 years. All of the content is locally produced, in that we don't have correspondents in any other city. All of the content will be relevant to the Bay Area though a lot of it, we hope anyway, will be relevant to other parts of the U.S. Everyone can relate to art, high rent, Ayahuasca, etc. In Issue #2, we have Ed Ross, Deadeyes, Bianca Gonzalez, Katie Gray, and Doubleparlour - all locals. Articles are about Love Me, a movie about the mail order bride industry, Ayahuasca, KPOO, and Chicken Wings. Our 2 models are Finch Linden, a local model, and Samantha Leon, a model from Texas who stopped by our house for a photoshoot."
We saw your first issue is sold out!
"Yes, the first issue sold out. We've been really lucky and we got some good press. We are very happy with how the magazine's been received. We didn't think we'd sell out in a month but we are happy we did. Local bookstores have been very supportive and we always try to give them a shout out as well. SF is expensive for small businesses so we appreciate any support we can get."
You've been doing some events, right?
"Yes. We had a Nude Model Sketch Party at Adobe Books. This is basically life drawing. We paid one of our models to pose nude while about 12 people sketched her. Then we scanned the results and put them in the mag. We plan on doing this about once a month. The next one will be held at Bird & Beckett."
What else is in the future for BelleSF?
"We'd love to get more involved with the art community in SF. We've been here a while and many artists are being pushed out due to high rent. We want to show the world that SF is cool because so many of us contribute without ever once thinking of profit. We want to create a world class magazine right here in SF, one that is relevant to more than just the affluent crowd. But most of all, every 3 months, we want to create a really cool piece of print art, something that will last."
There are about 18 places in the Bay Area that carry the mag, one of which is here at Haight Street's own (and, full disclosure, my employer) Booksmith. You can see the full list of stores carrying the mag here. You can also subscribe.
And here's a sneak peak of the cover of BelleSF's upcoming second issue, due to be published in late June:
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