Lynsey G (aka Miss Lagsalot) is a self-described “Renaissance Woman” – which is a deeply accurate label given that she is a journalist, author, publisher, poet, blogger, artist, porn critic, and copyeditor. (She might also be a vigilante but she refuses to confirm or deny this claim.) Lynsey G’s career has largely orbited adult entertainment and erotica, and led to her writing the critically acclaimed book Watching Porn: And Other Confessions of an Adult Entertainment Journalist as well as several amazing articles. Lynsey has recently expanded her world of writing by scripting the graphic novel Tracy Queen (@TheTracyQueen), which is a science fiction story centering on a character who is an adult entertainer, a martial artist, a scientist, a feminist, and a warlord. Wanting to learn more about her career and latest graphic novel, I was able to interview Lynsey G for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were some stories you loved experiencing? Are there any you still enjoy revisiting?
Lynsey G: I’ve always been into books, television, movies, and more with dark female and androgynous characters at their centers. I gravitate toward villains. When I was very young, I was obsessed with Miss Hannigan, the villain in Annie, as portrayed by the amazing Carol Burnett (who remains one of my biggest heroes). I used to dance around the house in a slip and all the beaded necklaces I could find, singing “Little Girls” at the top of my lungs! I also developed a long-standing obsession/crush on Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. I’ve been a massive fan of David Bowie’s Jareth in Labyrinth since early childhood. And the moment I discovered Rocky Horror Picture Show and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, it was all over.
I think that all these characters spoke to me because they portrayed power in a way that wasn’t often depicted in media—which is to say not a straightforward masculine presentation. There was a darkness and sensuality to these characters that echoed through the stories they were a part of, and it was incredibly seductive to me.
Yanes: You have been writing about the adult entertainment industry for over a decade. How do you think writing and discussing this industry has helped you become a better fiction and non-fiction writer?
Lynsey G: Well the prosaic answer to that question is that it’s simply forced me to write. A lot. I’ve written reviews, interviews, columns, op-eds, journalism, curatorial essays, a full-length memoir, and a graphic novel about adult entertainment, and that means I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words over the past twelve years. Honestly, I think the biggest key to becoming a good writer is just writing as much as possible. And I’ve done that!
But on a more meaningful level, my explorations of adult entertainment have introduced me to so many amazing people and experiences, fetishes, communities, and interests that I may have never encountered otherwise. They say it’s good to “write what you know,” and at this point I have gotten to know a lot about the less-examined parts of the human experience. I count myself extremely fortunate to have such a broad set of experiences and human connections to draw from as a writer.
Yanes: While adult entertainment has always been widely consumed, it seemed to me that it was treated as a curiosity when mainstream entertainment touched upon this industry. With Isa Mazzei’s film CAM getting great reviews and Tina Horn writing Safe Sex for Vertigo (a subsidiary of DC Comics), do you think adult entertainment creators are finally getting the mainstream respect they deserve or is there something else going on?
Lynsey G: I think that there are a few things contributing to greater interest and literacy around adult entertainment, and most of that is thanks to the internet. It’s taken a while for online culture to bring about change, since humanity is still adapting to the implications of connectivity on a mass scale. But one of the changes I’ve seen is that marginalized communities of many kinds are now able to band together and make their voices heard in ways that weren’t possible before. Sex workers are harnessing the power of the internet to take control of their own narratives, from creating and marketing their own content to speaking out against stigma and unfair legislation that impacts them. The rights of sex workers is still a niche topic in mainstream society, but it’s more visible now than it’s ever been.
Add to that the ubiquity of online porn, webcams, and other adult entertainment, as well as the proliferation of media that the internet has also made possible via streaming services, access to self-publishing, etcetera…and filmmakers, producers, publishers, and more would be frankly silly not to create media around these topics. Adult entertainment is more in the public eye than ever before, but there are still relatively few books, shows, movies, and so on that treat it with respect. There’s huge opportunity there, I think.
Yanes: You recently published volume one of your graphic novel series Tracy Queen. What was the inspiration for this story?
Lynsey G: The inspiration behind Tracy Queen came in two parts: 1) I’d been writing seriously about adult entertainment for about five years when I started conceptualizing the book, and I wanted a fictional outlet for my thoughts and feelings on the topic, and 2) I had a friend and lover whose life and personality were so interesting that I absolutely had to write about her. The two inspirations fit together and became a graphic novel about a fascinating young woman who uses adult entertainment as the vehicle for her own self-discovery…and science experiments…and army. Like you do in sci-fi.
Yanes: Adult entertainment creators are constantly worried that they will be kicked off online platforms they use. Did you have any similar concerns when building Tracy Queen’s online presence and marketing it?
Lynsey G: Oh, yes. The internet is a great tool for creating media about adult topics, but it’s also constantly shifting and extremely dangerous, since platforms are forever changing their terms of service to exclude adult content creators. That’s one reason that I have been careful to walk the line between an erotic story and a story that is erotic. We never show Tracy fully nude, and there are no explicit depictions of sex in the book. Instead, the illustrator, Jayel Draco, always finds ways to obscure the “main event.” Most of the books in the series will still end up being NSFW, but we didn’t want the story to be skipped over just to get to the sex scenes. We wanted the sex scenes to be a part of the story. I think we’ve succeeded in doing that with Tracy Queen so far, but smut is often in the eye of the beholder, so we’ll see how it goes now that Volume 1 is out in the world!
Yanes: On this note, given how difficult it is to successfully market any type of book or graphic novel, were there any marketing strategies you learned as a journalist and from the porn industry that has helped you spread word about Tracy Queen?
Lynsey G: I wouldn’t say that I learned any strategies that are particularly helpful for straddling the line between “porn” and “not porn.” Alas, as far as we’ve come during my time as a journalist, culturally, we’re still not in a place where there’s room for marketing to the middle ground. However, I have made some great connections with publicists in the adult entertainment field, who have helped me to spread the word about Tracy Queen to the adult side of the fence.
Meanwhile, I’m fighting the good fight to get folks on the non-adult side of that fence interested in the book. As you said, it’s difficult to market graphic novels, and I think this one has a particularly steep hill to climb to get noticed, given its controversial subject matter. But I also think that Tracy is a compelling character that, once people get to know her, will bring them back for more.
Yanes: Tracy Queen feels simultaneously modern and retro-science fiction. What science fiction stories do you think influenced how you shaped Tracy Queen and her story?
Lynsey G: I read and watch quite a lot of science fiction, so there’s probably a mixed bag of influences in Tracy and her story. But the strongest theme is definitely the mad-scientist trope, and most strongly Frankenstein. That’s hands-down my favorite book, and many of the stories it’s spawned have affected me, too—Rocky Horror Picture Show among them. The themes of creating life where one has no right to do so, then grappling with the humanity—or not—of one’s creation are really big in Tracy Queen, as is the search for the main character’s own humanity in the midst of the banana-pants sci-fi weirdness that’s going on around her. And of course, megalomania, which is a big theme in most mad-scientist stories.
I also got a lot of inspiration from the porno-chic films of the mid-70s, like The Opening of Misty Beethoven and Deep Throat and so on. These aren’t sci-fi, but they tell stories that are patently ridiculous and littered with sex, and I love the tongue-in-cheek sensibilities that they play with. Tracy Queen owes a lot, tone-wise, to those movies.
Yanes: What are your long-term goals for Tracy Queen? Specifically, do you see this as just a printed experience or are there plans to also create a film/television show?
Lynsey G: I have learned in the journey from concept to publication that graphic novels are a lot of work! Right now, I’m still on the long road toward completing the book with the amazing illustrator, Jayel Draco, who’s dedicated to making this happen. Eventually the book will be 288 pages long, spread out over eight volumes. That’s going to take quite a while!
We hope that, as we continue to create and publish the issues, interest in Tracy’s story will build, and we’ll perhaps eventually get or make some TV or movie options. Frankly, we’re hoping to attract Danny Devito’s notice. There’s a character in the book that he would be perfect for! But, hey. One thing at a time!
Yanes: When people finish reading Tracy Queen, what do you hope they take away from the story?
Lynsey G: I hope that, aside from what a damn fun time they had reading Tracy Queen, people walk away thinking a bit more about pornography and sex work more generally. Too often, stories about people who do that kind of work are so limited in scope, and they often tell the same bleak story. But there’s so much more to sex workers’ lives than what we’re used to seeing! I want folks who read Tracy Queen to have a little more head space available to consider their stories after they put down the book—and seek out some others!
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working that people can look forward to?
Lynsey G: I’m also writing a comic book series called PACK, which is about a bunch of vigilante dogs in Brooklyn. Right now, we’re Kickstarting the second issue! I’m also the editor and sometimes a contributor to the Oneshi Press comics anthology series, which will have a new issue out in July. Actually, I’m working on a lot of things with Oneshi Press, so people can go check out the website to learn more! (You can also, by the way, purchase Tracy Queen, Volume 1, comics anthologies, and the first issue of PACK at the Oneshi Press online store!)
I’ve also been reading a chapter from my memoir, Watching Porn, live on Facebook every other Sunday for the past few months. Those readings will continue for a while, so anyone interested in learning more about the adult entertainment industry can visit my Facebook page or my website, where I post about the readings and lots of other things.
We’ll be Kickstarting the next issue of Tracy Queen at the end of this year or in early 2020, so keep your eyes open!