Corrupting The Preconceived Notion of Normalicy: 10 Questions with Perversion Magazine Co-Founders Carl Rosen and Sam Bilheimer
A perversion is something corrupted from its original form into something entirely different. This is what Carl Rosen and Sam Bilheimer set out to accomplish when they formed Perversion Magazine. Their objective was to corrupt society's preconceived notion of normalcy, especially as it relates to art, literature, culture, and journalism.
Since the conception of Perversion, the staff has operated under a simple philosophy, create content that they themselves would want to read. In doing so, they are able to fully commit themselves to their work and stand behind the product they produce.
The pages of Perversion are well curated. It's apparent that the staff dedicates a generous amount of their time to creating each issue. Perversion may not be for those who are easily offended. As the reader turns the pages they will find a fusion of the written word and visual art, almagamated with a splash of shock and awe. Perversion challenges the reader to reconsider society's often blindly accepted boundaries of "good taste."
Visit Perversion's Facebook page and you will see a timeline that exemplifies investing in one's community. The staff tables at a variety of events, such as JAXbyJAX and Art Walk. Perversion also hosts, presents, and promotes a number of local events and artists. Most recently they heavily promoted a fashion show featuring the styles and designs of Bobby K and Argie Mitra, which hosted by Christy Frazier at the Phoenix Art District and proceeds were donated to the Jacksonville School of the Arts. As an organization they believe in the benefits of art and culture and do not hesitate to tap in to Jacksonville's ample supply of talent.
What is the mission of your organization?
The mission of Perversion Magazine is to establish and build a culture of art and literature that not only subverts all ordinary expectations, but also builds upon them. We don’t want to just showcase “normal” art. We want to pervert the idea of normalcy in the first place. Most of all, though, our publication’s goal is to inspire others to create something of their own.
When was your organization formed and how has it grown?
We formed roughly three years ago, and started with three people. We now have 11 staffers, five printed issues, a new website, and loads of professional experience under our belt. In the time this magazine has been in existence, everyone involved has grown from kids to a little more adult—like. We’re not fully there yet, but what’s the hurry? I think the current magazine shows a whole lot more maturity than the earlier issues. And luckily, it also includes good content.
What strategies are in place within your organization for you to engage your audiences?
Circulation is by far our biggest problem, and we’re currently implementing some new ideas on how to get magazines and content into people’s hands and social media feeds. Our aim is to expand distribution and event nights to some of Jacksonville's neighboring cities. We’re also working to be more proactive with generating and publishing content.
If all else fails, we might have Sam start pumping out memes. People seem to love those things.
Why is art and culture important?
Life would be so indescribably boring without art. Without it, we all might as well just be amorphous blobs plodding along the same path every day. And don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of that going on right now, despite the existence of art—you wake up, go to work, stare at a screen, clock out, go home, eat, sleep, repeat. But art, something to which we all can cling, can help us get through the day, can help some people cope, and can help some people, more or less, vent about anything.
What’s your organization’s next major milestone and is this milestone part of a long-term plan?
To get our circulation and readership to a certain number will be a huge accomplishment, and we believe that a lot of good things will happen from there. We’re also perpetually looking for office space/event space. It’ll be really great to have a more physical presence in a city that we love when we find the right location.
Other than that, we’re going to keep trucking along and doing our thing. We are kind of the epitome of "slow and steady wins the race," considering that Perversion is a side project/second job for everyone involved.
What would you like to see in the arts and cultural community in Jacksonville?
More events. More involvement with people from all walks of life—socially, ethnically, etc. With all of the divisiveness coming from American politics right now, it would be great to see a culturally sensitive and inclusive Jacksonville thrive and grow. There’s no place better to foster something like that than the arts and cultural community.
Does your organization partner with other organization(s)?
For events, we often partner-up with local businesses to host them. This has been a great way for our readers to find new spots in town that they might not have heard of, or for regular patrons of that establishment to find out about a magazine with a strange name. Additionally, there are a few places around town that carry copies of our magazines--Chamblin’s Uptown, Brew, Mockshop Music Exchange, and Deep Search Records, to name a few.
We’re always interested in partnering up with other local organizations.
What is a program offered by your organization that you’d like to highlight? Additionally, what is an organization that you think more people need to know about?
Well, we offer a mighty fine printed issue of Perversion Magazine. Two per year, at this time. We sell them online, at events, and at various distributors around town and in a few other states. We recently had new t-shirts printed. You can find those on our webstore.
We’re super excited about the emergence of The Phoenix Art District headed by Christy Frazier. We think she’s building the foundation for a space where people can be creative without restrictions. A place where individuals can interact with fellow artists and like-minded people and create better work because of it. We’ve worked with her on a few events in the new space in Springfield, and it’s always a pleasure to be inside those buildings and elbow-to-elbow with people in the community we love. When The Phoenix Art District is officially functioning 24/7, it’s going to be a special space and entity in our community.
How do you stay up to date with the art and cultural happenings both nationally and in Jacksonville?
Well for the Jacksonville events, we’re kind of just there. We’re at the local bars at night and the coffee shops during the day—sometimes vice versa—talking and interacting with our friends, who compose a lot of our community’s artists. We live here and we engage our community in a physical way. But, we’re also just another cog in the social media machine, so we do a fairly good job of keeping up with events, whether they fall underneath the Perversion umbrella or not.
On a national level, we’re lucky to have a few staffers that travel as part of their main jobs, which often provides insights into what more artistically established cities are doing. Their traveling also aids us in finding unique, obscure topics/people to cover.
Social media also helps us out a lot. Through it we connect to artists from all across the world. Pretty neat.
How can others get involved with your organization?
As of 11/28, we’re making some updates to our website, so there’s just a placeholder there at the moment. But when it’s back up, we have a contact form there, as well as a submission page if someone wants to submit work.
In the meantime, if someone has something urgent to say, like if aliens are invading and they want us to do an interview, they can message us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Questions? Comments? Submit something for consideration?
Please email Jihan@CulturalCouncil.org