Welcome back to What's In Your Nightstand? Our monthly interview with our favorite sex-positive folks where we ask them all their *dirty* little not-so-secrets! This month we interviewed MacKenzie Peck, Founder of Math Magazine.
On first pass, walking into MacKenzie Peck's sunlit Crown Heights apartment is no different than any other millennial Brooklynite's. MacKenzie greets me with a big hug as Big Thief softly underscores our interaction. She offers myself and our photographer Emma water laced with CBD oil, which we both gladly accept. But with a closer look at MacKenzie's cute abode, you start to see reminders of her work as a porn maker like easter eggs — a bowl full of condoms here (cleverly disguised in a golden apple on the nightstand), a leather harness there. I interviewed MacKenzie about her baby, Math Magazine, a "radically inclusive" porn mag, how her work and her own sex life collide, and of course, about what she keeps in her nightstand. Interview has been edited & condensed for clarity.
Photos by Emma Olswing
Ok, so, obvious one first: ...what's in your nightstand!? The Form 2 from Jimmy Jane — I love how powerful it is, and I love how small it is. We just got Bhang Butter (a THC lube), and I’m always reading a spirituality book, a business book, and a sex book. Right now it’s Girl Code by Cara Alwill Leyba and How to Walk by Thich Nhat H’anh.
What's the most practical thing in your nightstand? The toy, for sure. It’ll take things over the edge right when you need it.
What's the weirdest thing in your nightstand? My Instax. Very gradually my partner and I have started to take photos during sessions together and with other people, and it’s become this beautiful collection of memories.
If your house was burning down and you had to pick one item to save from your nightstand — what would it be? I feel like the camera, which is strange? Everything else feels replaceable, but not that.
Anything you're dying to add to your collection? Too many things! I would really love that lube dispenser that warms up and automatically dispenses. Reaching for things when you’re playing is tough.
What would you tell someone ashamed of what's in THEIR nightstand? I think that reflecting on where our shame comes from is really important...maybe it’s because you feel obligated to have it, and you actually don’t like it. Maybe it’s because you haven’t shared something with your partner that maybe you should. I think that kind of feeling of embarrassment can come from a lot of different places, and just reflecting on it & seeking out other people who feel the way you do or are into what you’re into is really powerful. I don’t think you have to share everything that’s in your nightstand with everyone. If it irks you, seek out community, seek out information, and get to know yourself better.
What made you want to get into the adult magazine industry, and how did Math Magazine come about? There’s a lot of different answers to why I started Math, but a big one is that I wasn’t seeing stuff that appealed to me. I think I’ve always been a sex-positive person, and I think looking for porn that excited me was really difficult. I knew that it was out there, and I had trouble finding it. I knew what I wanted could be made, but I wasn’t seeing it...there’s so much great porn like ours out there, and there’s so many barriers to getting to it. So now, I think a big part of my job is affecting change in that sense. The idea that to be in porn, you have to give into oppressive ideas is giving up. I think a lot of people agree with me, and I see change happening.
Math Magazine is all about portraying people as they actually are, and eschewing a lot of the fantasy that goes into traditional porn. Why is this so important? People often look at our stuff say, “oh it’s real people with real bodies,” but it’s important for me to say that people who augment their bodies are real bodies too. The body that we see a lot in mainstream porn, the thing that’s oppressive is that they’re all very similar. It conveys a message that people who don’t look like that can’t be sexual, can’t be desired, can’t be in porn. Whereas, we’re just trying to show the whole spectrum. All bodies are worthy of desire and love.
How does your work manifest itself in your own sex life? In terms of my personal life — the big thing is honest communication, and even learning from the things that I engage with every day through work. I’ve had some trouble with the line between — “is this work or is this private?” [I’m learning] to be present in the moment as MacKenzie the person, instead of MacKenzie the magazine. Setting intentions is really good — “Am I trying to connect with my partner, or am I trying to make a business deal?”
What turns you on? Sometimes my work! I’ll be working on a mood board or something and think, “Hm, I think I’m gonna rub one out real quick!” I take for granted what a stress reliever it is to masturbate. And of course my partner. My partner makes me feel sexy...especially when I’m feeling too in my head.
Do you have any masturbation habits? Usually when I’m masturbating alone, it’s all about efficiency...which I have mixed feelings about. I’d like to be more luxurious about it. I’ll look at some great porn, like Erica Lust, or a mood board I’ve put together and I’ll use the Hitachi. And it’s great & then like, “onto the next task.”
What do you need to feel comfortable and relaxed during sex? There’s a range. Sometimes we’ll go to sex parties, where the thing that makes me feel comfortable is the challenge...being like, “fuck it, I’m gonna do stuff and it’s gonna be great!” Or I’ll be at home with my partner, and I’ll feel an intense desire to connect with him in a really romantic and soulful way. Feeling like the other person is very present helps me be more present.
You obviously have a really great handle on your own sexuality, and what makes you feel comfortable and engaged. What are things you would recommend if someone wants to be more experienced or try something new? Articulating what that is to yourself is key. A lot of times my desires can be really ambiguous and hard to pin down. Delve into that, and find people who are supportive of whatever lifestyle choice that might be. I think it can be difficult to be around people who are not of that world, or of that mindset. More and more Math Magazine is trying to create those environments for people, where they can connect over a desire to learn or try new things. ...I feel very optimistic that the concept of trying something new that makes you nervous won’t be that big of a deal anymore. I think we’re getting there.