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3 Photo by Andrew Casey



LETTER FROM THE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Of the many flavors of happiness--contentment, euphoria, delight--there’s one in particular that would have the Catholic priests of my childhood shaking their heads warily. Pleasure, specifically, is selfish and indulgent; it’s spoiling and treating and luxuriating. It’s waffle cones and Pixi Stix and kinky sex and cheesy music. Flight attendants ask travelers “Business or pleasure?” as an either/or choice--pleasure isn’t productive or profitable, but an end in itself. We often talk about “simple pleasures”: the small traditions and comfort foods and sensory enjoyments that are everyday but not common enough, that make life bearable. Minneapolis knows how to revel in simple pleasures. In the face of interminable winters and anti-pleasures like ice scrapers and slush, we have to cling to the Luminary Loppet, art shanties, sledding, “Immigrant Song” playing at a Vikings game, winter stews and drinks, and the promise that the summery pleasures of ice cream and lakes and sunshine and taco trucks will come again eventually. But beyond collective comforts, pleasure is highly subjective. One person’s fetish is another’s turnoff. We’ve filled this issue with interviews about and photos of candy, ice cream, sex positivity, and Elvis. But we know that’s only a taste of the many different ways Minneapolis residents spend their leisure time and treat themselves. And as we’ve said from the beginning, we want to hear from you about that. What brings you pleasure? How does your definition of pleasure differ from your neighbor’s? Is pleasure hard to find or achieve for you, and if so, why? If you’re someone who gets pleasure from telling stories, taking photos, drawing comics, or anything creative, we want to enable that habit. MPLSzine continues to accept submissions by artists and writers from around the city and region. Our next theme is Underground. Send us your work at, and check out our back issues at Sincerely, Colleen



MPLSzine By6 Biafra Inc. // PLEASURE




Comic by Will Dinski

Photo series by Allison Vallant










Smitten Kitten This summer, Minneapolis sex shop Smitten Kitten celebrated 10 years in business--years of not just selling sex toys, but also offering sex positivity and education through classes, guest lectures and blog posts. The store has also worked with local artists like Amina Harper, who presented her solo show “Chimera� there earlier this year. Amina talked with Smitten Kitten owner Jennifer Pritchett about what makes the place special and what’s in store for the next decade.

Amina: How did the idea to found Smitten Kitten come about? Did you see a need that had to be filled? Was it a long-standing dream?

Jennifer: The foundation for what would become Smitten Kitten was laid in graduate school in the Gender and Women’s Studies Program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. One of the core classes in that program is called “Collective Action.” This skillsbased class focused on putting theory in action. My cohorts and I organized a campus-wide action focused on women’s sexuality and empowered embodiment. Smitten Kitten, as it is today, grew from that seed. I view Smitten Kitten as social justice in action--every day. The need we sought to fill was really personal, too. I, as a person who has been exploring my gender identity and queer sexuality, needed a place where I could not only find the products I wanted but where I could interact in a safe space with access to ideas and information about gender, sex and sexuality that was open, accurate and non-judgmental.

Amina: What was it like early on working to make Smitten Kitten what it has become today? Were those beginning steps difficult and did you ever face any opposition?

Everything was so new and exciting. I felt inexhaustible, fueled with an overwhelming sense of purpose and determination. The hours were incredibly long, but seemed energizing actually. We started very small: small inventory, small space, small budgets, small everything. We grew organically and changed as necessity warranted. We were very nimble and not afraid to make mistakes and try again. We never faced any opposition; however, we did face some challenges and lost opportunities due not to the nature of our business, but to other folks’ discomfort with empowered sexuality. For example, we had two banks refuse to allow us to open a business checking account with them because we were a so-called “adult business.” We have had landlords refuse to consider renting to us. We’ve been price gouged by credit card processing companies because of the perceived “high-risk” nature of our business due to the products we sell. We’ve experienced local periodical publications breaking advertising contracts with us because they’ve fielded complaints from other businesses who didn’t want their own ads to be on the same page as a Smitten Kitten ad. While these experiences are disheartening, they are only a handful in 10 years of business. I’m proud to say that we’ve never had any community opposition to us. Quite the contrary, actually: Common folks like our customers and community and most other businesses have been welcoming and supportive of our endeavor.



Amina: Smitten Kitten is the only sex store in town (that I know of) that promotes education, sexual empowerment, feminism and all around safe, sexy fun. A huge reason for this is because of your staff. How do you go about hiring and training people, and what do you look for?

Jennifer:The primary job for any Smitten Kitten Sex Educator / Sales Associate is to create and protect the sex-positive, open and welcoming atmosphere of the store, our online presence and all events we produce. That means that every interaction is an opportunity to undermine the body-shaming, sex-negative, dangerously judgmental and prejudiced culture, with empowered, clear and safe boundaries, accurate information, and sex positivity. We hire people who are dedicated to making this a reality. Because the culture of Smitten Kitten as an educationbased, sex-positive retail space is unique, we spend a focused amount of energy in our training program.

Amina: You have had a great many educational workshops and guest speakers (Buck Angel and Nina Hartley among many others). Is there any one of these educational experiences that taught you something new or really touched and inspired you?

Jennifer: The initial training program consists in large part to a meticulously planned curriculum that includes a diverse reading list, topical lectures, a mentor/mentee relationship with senior sex educators, and access to many of the leading educators in the sexuality field. The training program lasts approximately two to three months. I bolster all staff sex educators’ education with private workshops taught by masters in the field of sexuality four times yearly and the opportunity to attend relevant conferences. Each of these guest educators are inspiring in their own way. I think Buck Angel’s dedication to paving his own way is meta-inspirational to me. He was inspired to share his sexuality on digital film and distribute powerful, self-made images of trans* masculine bodies and sexuality at a time when that was so rare. He is self-taught and embodies such a powerful pride and self-assuredness--it’s contagious. That’s just one of the reasons why I love selling his work! He is a porn performer, a sexual genius, and builds his own websites and makes his own films. He also runs his business and is now an inspirational/motivational speaker. That kind of acumen is an inspiration! You know after every workshop, I go home and feel inspired to try new things myself.That’s true! I’m always inspired to create deeper connections with my lover and with myself. Honestly, one of my favorite events in a long time was your artist talk. I was really struck by your honesty and perspective about our animal natures and sexuality.


Amina: AW, Thank you Aside from running a fabulous shop and promoting sexual education, you also have the podcast Sex and Coffer (which I totally want to be a guest on someday), maintain a blog with awesome contributors and present at conferences. Are there any other sex-positive endeavors you are looking to get into?

Amina: Smitten Kitten just celebrated 10 great years. This question is going to sound cliché, but where do you see everything in 10 more years?

Jennifer: Well, I do consulting for new start-ups in the adult retail business! That endeavor is called Smitten Kitten Consulting. It’s important to me to share the experiences I’ve had and the knowledge I’ve gained to help other folks start sex-positive businesses. I consult with manufacturers, toy designers and retailers mostly, but am so excited to help any small business. Sex and entrepreneurship are my two professional obsessions! The website is in the works as we speak--I’m just formalizing it now. Previously I have just done it as folks have asked--which is A LOT!

Jennifer: We will be celebrating 20 years right here in Minneapolis. The Twin Cities are such a great place for small, independent business and wholesomeness like the Smitten Kitten! I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Our online retail store will continue to grow and help us with our outreach and accessibility mission for folks who don’t live near our Uptown, Minneapolis store. We will be advocating for safer and more responsible sex toy manufacturing and ethical porn production in even bigger ways. Look for more Smitten Kittenproduced films and safe sex toys!



Jezebel (White Vest) by Stephanie Glaros Jezebel, a live peep show performer, poses in her booth.





WRITTEN BY JAMIE CHRISTIANSON Though it’s easier to play the blame game and wiggle my pointer finger at Grandma, I am confident I was born with an implanted microchip in the shape of a pompadour. My first brush with him is as detailed as a photograph: a dingy wooden box TV flashing frames of a gyrating, stark white jumpsuit; Grandma, with her incandescent smile, snapping her manicured fingers and whipping her teased cone of hair from side to side; me, curling my fists and zigzagging my tiny feet across the living room floor like a skier without her poles. It all happened when I was a preschooler and yet I can still mentally recite it anywhere, any place, at any

given time. The girls were screaming and the sweaty scarves were flying on the television screen on that defining night. Loving Elvis was the first thing I would ever be certain of and nothing would ever be the same again. “Tell me the scarf story again, Grandma,” would become the signature greeting of my youth when I scaled the steps of her graffiti-scrawled stoop. She didn’t mind that I bypassed our pleasantries and dove right into all-things-Elvis. In fact, she loved it. She’d greet me with a smoky laugh and give me a little tap on the back of my shoulders as she led me into her apartment.





Steeped in cigarette smoke, secondhand copper figurines and neon signs that yelled things like “IMMEDIATE SEATING” and “DOO WOP DINER,” my grandma’s kitschy quarters became my Elvis haven. Like clockwork, I’d beeline for her polyester, dusty-rose recliner and sit cross-legged waiting for her to take a seat in the wraparound couch across from me. Sometimes it would take her so long to settle in, I’d pretzel myself into a little ball with my head peeking through my legs so she’d catch my not-so-subtle drift. Oh, the advantages of being a restless, lanky child. “Good to see you too, honey,” she replied with a sparkle in her eye. She always positioned herself the same when she braced to take a seat – tucking her right leg underneath her posterior and propping up her left knee to balance her elbow on it. She liked to keep me hanging. She’d intentionally pause to fumble for her nearest Newport, inhale deeply and gaze into the distance like she was searching for the right words. But I’d heard the same story time and time again, so I knew it was just a part of this well-orchestrated show. The woman could write a damn book about this in a nanosecond and strike gold, I thought to myself. In fact, I could write the damn book, I heard it so many times. “It was during his comeback tour, the summer of ’68,” Grandma started. “After his televised special, he wore that leather bodysuit for every show and did he ever wear it well,” she said. “Alice and I scored VIP tickets for his St. Paul show from a radio station, so we got to see him before he graced the stage and when he came back a sweaty, sexy beast of a man.” I know what you’re thinking – who uses the word ‘sexy’ in front of a kid? Better yet,

who talks like this? But trust me, it added to my grandma’s allure. Without her colorful vocabulary and razor-sharp imagery, Elvis wouldn’t be standing 29 years strong on this pedestal of mine. “He was getting bumrushed left and right from the Colonel and stagehands before the show started, so he only gave me a peck on the cheek and a quick hello.” This is the part where she would inevitably draw out a long, exasperated sigh. “But he felt something and I felt it, too. You know, like that feeling you get when Santa stuffs your stocking with the exact same things you requested?” I nodded all-knowingly, even though Santa wasn’t as intuitive as I had hoped most times. “It was like that.” “When he returned, he didn’t even give so much of a sideways glance to Alice,” she scoffed. “We were like magnets – he charged over to me, swathed me in his silk scarves and asked if I was free that night. Jamie, what would you tell Elvis if you were in this situation?” she routinely posed. I would take a page out of her book and pause, scanning the brightly lit room. “Well, even if someone was counting on me to do something – like Mom telling me to put my toys away – I would ignore it because this was an extension,” I proudly replied. “Exception,” she corrected. Either way, the pride on her face said it all: I have successfully harvested my very own grandchild into 3 parts Elvis and 1 part normal human. And she was right. My entire adolescence was saturated in Elvis – he influenced my flamboyant style; took the starring role of all oral report assignments from third grade forward; was my go-to PLEASURE // MPLSzine


“knowledge” weapon when kids teased me for things I didn’t know about, like fractions or decimals; served as the official “soundtrack” of my bedroom when I had friends over in high school; and is likely the motivating force behind the blue-black locks I’ve sported religiously over the years.

life. Do you think I care that he may or may not have written anything in his mammoth discography? Or that his movies (“Love Me Tender” does not apply) were as crap as they come? Or that my grandma fed me this false Elvis “encounter” and I perpetuated it for six years before I knew it had no merit? (Ugh.)

Although some bristle or widen their eyes when I declare my Elvis obsession – mainly because I’m of the minority in my age group – I gotta give the guy mad props. He gave me a little bit of edge and grit, a key differentiator from my peers and something that gave me a shield when I moved from school to school in my childhood. I’ve been defending my love for him my whole

No, I don’t. Elvis transcends all conventional forms of matter, and all the generation gaps. This year, on the 36th anniversary of his death, as I fondly look back on my formative years clutching my beer at the bar and wearing a tanktop with Elvis’s face screenprinted across my chest, I think to myself: this is one pleasure I don’t feel guilty about it. Even if that idiot from across the bar told me my shirt is ridiculous.


27 Photos by Andrew Casey












SUGAR SUGAR a nd t h e Ca nd y Ba rt e nd e r

Written by Sarah Brumble & Photos by Ben LaFond You’ve probably passed by Sugar Sugar’s tiny storefront dozens of times without realizing the glory inside. Its whitewashed shelves are lined with huge glass jars brimming with candies long thought extinct, homemade concoctions like tamarind chili pixie sticks, and a vintage candy bar dispenser that looks like one of those cigarette machines banned from everywhere but backwater bars. Best yet, almost every sweet in the shop can’t be found anywhere else in the Twin Cities. The cumulative effect is one of feeling like you’d been transported to a whole different world, one filled with dreamstuff.

Despite—or perhaps because of—Sugar Sugar’s eccentric offerings, the shop is anomalous in its reception: it’s more recognized on the national scene than within Minneapolis. This is so much the case that when preparing for our visit, I’d found no one who’d heard of the place.

That Sugar Sugar has been in business for just over two years without doing any advertising at all sheds a little light on how this could be so. The shop instead relies solely on word of mouth… and it’s working. Our little Kingfield gem has been written-up in the New York Times, crowned one of the ten best candy stores in the country, and was featured in Eat Shop’s Minneapolis edition.



The mastermind behind this operation is Joni Wheeler. Though not immediately reminiscent of Willy Wonka, some of her stories belie a spiritual camaraderie with the candyman. “That’s the funny thing. I just got [included in Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine’s list of] ‘75 Best Places for Kids’ but I never envisioned this as a… I never though about children. Never. It never crossed my mind. I was just making a store I liked. I know it seems so incredibly dumb, but it never occurred to me that kids would come, that kids would seek it out.” So it’s not that Joni dislikes children, per sé, it’s just that she didn’t create Sugar Sugar for them. “Packaging is really what I love. Candy is the perfect purveyor of packaging. Candy has a really broad scope with a really narrow focus. So as long as it’s candy related—there’s candy jewelry, there’s candy perfume (both of which I have), you can do vintage, you can do new—I’m safe. And I can bring my love of vintage in, along with new, hip, bright stuff and it all works together.” When the initial plan to set up shop in Uptown fell through due to the area’s prohibitive costs, the perfect spot landed in Joni’s lap while driving home one day. It’s current location at 38th and Grand was once part of a general store dating back to 1900. The space is classic; anchors where the general store owners had installed bar stools at their counter-top remain visible today. This hints at another element of the venture Joni hadn’t seen coming. “Candy is very evocative, so I get a lot of personal stories. I’ve likened it to being a candy bartender before because people come in and the smells and the looks of the bars throw them way back and they’ll be like, ‘Oh my grandfather always had this kind of candy’… I’m maybe a little private and so it’s shocking to me what people will tell you. It’s fine, it just was a surprise. I think people underestimate candy’s ability to bridge that emotional gap.” 36



Joni’s expertise in the more concrete aspects of people’s relationship with candy is undeniable. The first question she asked me (as she does with everyone, in one form or another) when I walked into the shop was, “Are you a chocolate person, or more of a gummy/sour person?” From there the schooling began, disguised in the form of gushing over new treats that knocked her socks off. “This is some of the best chocolate I’ve ever eaten in my life. And believe me, I’ve eaten a lot. But, you know, I’m not adverse to what I call ‘novel chocolates.’ It has its place. And I love gummy. But fine chocolate is like wine; it’s in a class by itself. Let me cut a piece so it’s manageable.” She handed Ben and me pieces to try as she continued talking about its favorable qualities. “This one’s from Venezuela. But it’s beautiful, it’s really complex. It doesn’t have any bitter edge to it, which is something I dislike immensely. I buy my chocolate from makers. Part of what effects it is the country that it’s grown in, part of it’s how it’s handled, like wine. The conching process produces different flavor notes. There are people who like that bitter quality. I don’t. So I basically buy to avoid that because I think that it burns out your palate on the high note.” Should the need for emotional connection with a stranger strike you, and you’re craving something sweeter—and dare I say more complex?—than Jameson, Sugar Sugar is there to fill that void six days a week. Just try not to drop the lids on the glass jars while pouring your guts out to Joni. “When I wake up at three o’clock in the morning, that sound is what I hear.” Oh to have the nightmares of a candy shop owner…




photo by Bill Donovan



Reading for Pleasure

By Sarah Christiaansen

I think I’ve always loved reading. From a young age, I remember being nestled up in bed, absorbing every page I could before the light hopscotched away. Still eager for adventure, I would hide under my sheets, illuminating my book with a flashlight until my eyelids lost the imaginary war between each page.

Nowadays, give me a good book, a blanket, some coffee and a cat, and I’ll be set. Reading while it rains? Ethereal. Reading on a perfect day outside – not too hot, not too cold, with just the right amount of lust in the air? Perfect. I get excited thinking about the book-nook I’ll have in my future home, complete with a laddered bookshelf a la Beauty and The Beast and bay window overlooking a lake.

There is nothing I love to do more than to read. And when I’m done reading a book, there is nothing I love to do more than tell everyone I know about the book and practically shove my love for said book down their throats and into their hearts.

A bibliophile, I seem to buy books faster than I have the chance to read them. I enjoy exploring used bookstores, searching for hidden gems. Somewhere in those stacks of books seemingly miles high, there is the perfect book waiting to be found. To me, searching for that book is just as wonderful as reading it.

Today, I went on an adventure. It wasn’t an adventure as stirring as something I would read in a book, there was no danger or sorcery, but there was definitely love at first sight. Minneapolis has some delightful used bookstores – on this journey, I explored two. Both on Hennepin Ave., I instantly fell in love with Booksmart and Magers & Quinn.

Upon walking in both, the smell of used books tickled my nose. Everyone writes about that smell. But there’s something about the smell that makes people want to write about it. It’s iconic. I’m surprised I’ve never encountered a candle trying to embody the smell – or a Jelly Belly trying to mock the flavor.

Agonizingly, I limited myself to buying one book from each. I ended up with A Separate Peace by John Knowles (a book that has been on my To Be Read list for years) and Diary by Chuck Palahniuk. Almost immediately after buying the latter, a barista spilled coffee all over it. I wasn’t upset; it now looks (and smells) even more magical.

On my ride home, I was thinking about how lucky the characters in books are to be able to go on such remarkable adventures. I almost got a bit jealous. But then I remembered I went on those adventures with them. As the sun set and the moon started to hug the sky, I breathed in the smell of my new used books and drove a little faster, zealous to start reading.



CONTRIBUTORS Publication Director Chris Cloud

Illustration Director Kyle Coughlin

Editorial Director Colleen Powers

Visual Director Andrew Casey

Layout Director Bethany Hall

Layout Intern Amaanda Reeder

Biafra Inc. is an artist residing in Minneapolis. His work reflects encounters and observations from his daily life. He is slowly using his work to create one giant comic story that is in chunks around the globe. His mediums range from printing and traditional painting to spray paint, stencils, and stickers. Visit for more information. Sarah Brumble is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer/editor originally hailing from West Virginia and Portland, Oregon. When not sailing through shark-infested waters or walking overland into Nigeria, she can be found giving your favorite band a chance, taking photos with unreliable cameras, and riding her bicycle. Andrew Casey, one of MPLSzine’s Visual Directors, is a photographer residing in Minneapolis. He migrates towards shooting stationary objects and street scenes. He has had a long-held passion and appreciation for street art and graffiti, which led to a history of documenting the artwork under the alias Urban Camper. Sarah Christiaansen is a recent college graduate with no idea what she wants to do with her life. She hopes to write for a newspaper/magazine/book in the future and, until then, is enjoying exploring the infinite abyss. Sarah likes Parks & Recreation, Diet Coke and Instagramming pictures of hercats. See more at her website: Jamie Christianson is a dreamer by day, philosopher by night, gypsy by lifestyle and writer by birthright. When her nose isn’t buried in the pages of Goodreads’ latest recommendations and her fingertips aren’t feverishly punching keys, she can be found drooling over big, fluffy “woofers” passing by. She also Tumbles, Pins and ‘Grams in her not-so-free time: sit-and-spin.tumblr. com;;


Will Dinski is a cartoonist who lives and draws in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of the graphic novel Fingerprints, as well as the short stories Covered in Confusion and Ablatio Penis. See more of his work at Bill Donovan is an amateur photographer from Eagan, Minnesota. You can see more of his photos on Flickr, at http://, or Capture Minnesota, at Rudy Fig is a 25-year-old Minneapolis-based oil painter and toy art enthusiast. With toy designers for parents, Rudy grew up in a very creative environment and excelled in the arts from a young age. Her lush oil paintings and other artwork features a cosmic world of candy coated sanctuaries, magical garden tea parties, deep space missions, and psychological purging. Her oil paintings feature signature, doll-eyed characters that are painted through a whimsical and sometimes macabre lens of saturated pastels. Aside from the fine art world, Rudy is also a uoung mother, musician, lover of animals, watcher of planets, and a little bit crazy. Stephanie Glaros is a Minneapolis-based photographer, art director, and graphic designer. See more of her work at, and Amina Harper is an artist, writer, snack enthusiast, warrior princess and part time alchemist currently residing in Minneapolis. Follow her: and aminaharperart

Jaime Willems is a cartoonist and illustrator currently attending Minneapolis College of Art and Design. As she prepares to graduate, Jaime is focussed on making work on a wide variety of subjects, guided by her own distinct sense of humor. One day, she hopes to get a full night’s sleep. To see more of her work, visit


hoto by Andrew Casey

Allison Vallant is an artist, photographer and blogger living and working in arts administration in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota. She received her BFA in Photography from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2007. Mostly working in freelance editorial, fashion and conceptual work, she is currently working primarily in film formats, 35mm, medium format and instant films, and has clients that include The Minneapoline, Apartment Therapy Chicago, The City Scout, Little Bean Photography, B.I. Worldwide and the Minnesota Fringe Festival. See more of her work and follow her:, and dotluv.


Be part of MPLSzine! We’re looking for interviews, reviews, reported articles, essays, humor pieces, lists, infographics, comics, photos, and illustrations related to Minneapolis. (That relation can be loose--if the only connection is that you live here, that’s cool with us.) For now, we are not accepting fiction or poetry submissions--we know we can’t compete with the awesome literary magazines this town already has. We want to explore overlooked places and subcultures; make new connections and observations; share your heartbreaking, guffaw-worthy, and inspirational personal stories; and champion the people who make Minneapolis what it is. But we can’t do that without creative types sending us their stuff. To get you started, our theme for the next issues is ISSUE publishes March 5 submissions due February 17 If you can’t contribute right away but want to learn more, email us anyway. We’d love to have you join us.

Submit to MPLSzine We are accepting Submissions for UNDERGROUND, publishing in October. If you can’t contribute right away but want to learn more, email us anyway We’d love to have you join us.

MPLSzine - The Pleasure Issue  

MPLSzine, a submissions-based collaborative digital publication, is the latest project powered by the forces of MPLS Collective, A lynchpin...