Two Trick Pony Press & Bindery
Gay and Lesbian Studies by Sophie Strohmeier
In the hot night, out in the backyard, by a dead flat screen television and a pile of bricks, my student spotted a worn brown sofa, and the solitary shape of someone sitting upon it: a girl, like her, dazed by boredom but unable to leave. The girl, large and blonde as well, was wearing a white blouse and a yellow vest. There were pearls in her earlobes and her shoes were new. My student sat down beside her. They discovered they were both Episcopalians, that their favorite writer was John Greene.
“There’s something very specific about it that wouldn’t be the same if I were a straight woman and Nicki were a boy,” I told a friend.
“How so?” my friend asked.
“Because since it’s two women, there’s the whole of history to consider with it, a history and culture of cues and questions. It’s like for her I’m not just me, but a signifier for the whole thing.”
Artist Statement from Two Trick Pony Press
Gay and Lesbian Studies is a smutty, indulgent escape into lesbian cinephile culture housed in a millimeter binding. In the central text, an unnamed instructor of creative writing explores the tension between her fetish for the coded eroticism of the lesbian film canon and her out and proud existence. As she recounts her relationship with Nikki, a student writer unwittingly engaging in the language of lesbian pulp in her class assignments, her interactions are never inappropriate and yet, colorful foldouts of erotic scenes allude to her real, active sexuality. In the margins, we become privy to the narrator’s references and how representations of lesbianism in art guide her interpretations of the world around her.
Gay and Lesbian Studies was developed as a collaboration between Sophie Gertrude Strohmeier, the author of the short story that serves as the backbone of the book’s text and the illustrator of the images adorning it, and Two Trick Pony Press and Bindery who orchestrated the combination of the elements, edited and prompted an expansion of the hypotext, then designed, printed, and bound the book.
As a book object, Gay and Lesbian Studies is simultaneously loud and familar, feminine and unapologetic. The letterpress printed cover paper hides a lesbian liason in a traditional pattern, while bits of lime goatskin peek out at head and tail, capturing the central tension of the text within: the allure of secretive sexuality vs a fully out existence enabled by the burgeoning acceptance of LGBTQIA+ identities. The traditional typesetting of the text is interrupted by colorful, erotic images, all letterpress printed, that feature whimsical touches — a cat! Snails! — and a texture created with the imprint of fishnet stockings. The size of the book, roughly 6.5” by 10” closed, is just large enough to block out the rest of the world as you bury your nose in its pages.
Gay and Lesbian Studies is a titillating reverie, an instructional resource on the lesbian canon, and a declaration of sex positivity. It challenges the reader to entertain the idea of a female gaze, of erotic art made by and for women. It claims space on the shelf for the femme, and challenges you to acknowledge it.
Sophie Gertrude Strohmeier is a bilingual writer and translator of fiction and nonfiction. Her long-lost love, however, is illustration. She received her BA in Romance Studies from the University of Vienna, and an MFA in Fiction from the University of Alabama. A Lambda Literary Fellow, Sophie is the author of the surrealist Lesbian novel “Küss Mich, Libussa” (edition a, 2013, in German). She lives in Brooklyn.
Two Trick Pony Press represents the book work of artist and writer Sarah Scarr AKA Sarah Eleanor Linda Minnie Scarr AKA Sarah McCall AKA Minnie AKA SELMS. Born in the shadow the Hogback Mountain in Loudoun County Virginia, Scarr’s formal education includes a GED, the Swedish for Immigrants Program in Danderyd, Sweden, courses at Freie Universitet in Berlin, as well as a BA from Columbia University and MFAs in Creative Writing and Book Arts from the University of Alabama. Her honors include the Dasha Epstein Playwriting Fellowship at Powerhouse Theatre (2016),a College Book Arts Association Project Grant for the book Descriptions of Teeth for Characters and Concepts in a Novel (2018), The Nell Meldahl Work-Study Scholarship at Paper & Book Intensive (2019), a Teaching Fellowship with the Alabama Prison Arts and Education Program (2020), and the James Davis Scholarship to the Rare Book School (2021). Her writing has been featured in Cosmonaut’s Avenue, Psychopomp, Midway Journal, Parenthesis Journal and in artist books by Jillian Sico and Kellee Morgado. Her Queer Chapbook Series, featuring writing by Sarah Panlibuton Barnes, DeeDee Behind, and Sophie Strohmeier, can be found in the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago’s Special Collections Library. More about her work can be found at sarahscarr.com.