Knights, whores, witches and Zoom

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

As I write this lede, it’s the second week of New York’s social distancing mandate. I’m wearing a t-shirt I slept in, woke up in, slept in again, and woke up in once more; a pair of besmirched jeans; some questionable socks; a battered cotton bra; and no panties. Rumpled, mussed, probably more than a little fragrant, I am wearing the clothes of the classic scribe.

Writers, curled like commas around our laptops or notebooks, tend not to think about what we’re wearing when we’re working (there are the oddballs, Susan Sontag in her bear suit; Maria Dahvana Headley, who…


One hot night in June 2011, I went to a gay bar in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s not my neighborhood (and only occasionally my milieu) but my friend Katelan Foisy was reading tarot cards, and I hadn’t seen her in four months. I’d been living in Italy. I was heartbroken. I’d fallen in love with a beautiful, cruel, stupid Italian man, as one might do, and I’d fallen in love with Italy, as one will do. Neither, I felt, loved me back.

Even more heart-wrenching, I was at a creative loss. For six giddy, wild, reckless, and inspired years, I’d kept…


Parsing the architecture of memorial in Norway’s witch capital

This Halloween, I took myself to Vardø, the “witch capital of Norway.” I’ve desperately wanted to visit Vardø for about three years, ever since I stumbled across pictures of its Steilneset Memorial: a bifurcated monument to the 91 people burned at the stake during Vardø’s seventeenth-century witch panic. Co-created by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and French-American artist Louise Bourgeois, the memorial was Bourgeois’ last public work, and if you need a reason to get to Vardø (spoiler alert: you do), it’s a good one.

I had a secret second reason to visit Vardø, which was that I wanted to research…


Power Trip

As scientists have proved, and an awkward encounter with Gwyneth Paltrow has reaffirmed: love it or hate it, the F-word is mighty

Art: Michelle Thompson

Sometime in the mid-’90s, I was sitting in a spa chair for my weekly mani pedi when a milky-pale woman settled into the chair beside me. Her existence hardly registered until she held up three bottles of nail polish, all variations of nude pink. “Which for my fingers and which for my toes?” she asked.

Slightly annoyed that a stranger was talking to me, I looked at the three bottles of seashell nude held in the stranger’s pink, pale hand. Then I looked at her face. It was Gwyneth Paltrow.

“Most people match their fingers and toes,” I said, meeting…


FUTURE HUMAN

From body weight and batteries to programming and consent, there’s nothing straightforward about sexbots. But they’re coming anyway.

Illustrations: Lia Kantrowitz

In a promotional video, robot designer Dr. Sergi Santos runs his finger inside the mouth of his Samantha sexbot. “Uhhh,” she moans. Sergi touches the doll’s hand, and she moans again. “She felt that,” he says, “and she’s actually getting quite horny.” Samantha is not, of course, getting horny. Samantha is a nearly inanimate object, which, by definition, is incapable of horniness — as well as hungriness, loneliness, suspiciousness, and even obliviousness. Samantha feels nothing, even if Santos wants her to.

A replication of a woman’s form, Samantha embodies the popular understanding of a sex robot — a gynoid. In…


Trust Issues

Women are taught to fear the bogeyman. The real threat is closer to home

Illustration by Shreya Gupta

Last October, I married a Swede. The wedding, which took place the day after the New York Times broke the first Harvey Weinstein assault story, was a Viking whirlwind in a posh Icelandic Airbnb whose claim to fame is that the Biebs once stayed there. The honeymoon was a sun-dappled stay in Portugal. (There were castles. So many castles.) And eight days later, clad in my freshly espoused skin, I found myself smack in the middle of suburban Stockholm legally wedded to a man I didn’t know very well.

Stockholm in late October is an uninterrupted iteration of gray. The…


On expensive skincare and a changing face

Let me start with my skin in the game. In the four months between November 2017 and February 2018, I spent about $520 on skincare products. This number does not include makeup. It does not include shampoo or conditioner. It does not include body lotion. And it is, in all likelihood, a little low. If I pored through every receipt and every debit card transaction, the actual, shameful tally of skincare spending during these four months would hover above $600. …

chelsea g. summers

An ex-academic and a former stripper, Chelsea G. Summers is a writer who’s going places. http://www.chelseasummers.com/

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