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Overtures is also perfecting its pranks, i.e., interviews with people who don't know that their quotes will be published in Nerve. Dominus says the pranks are "SPY-inspired, without the mean edge," and they require contributors to "make a human experiment" of their lives. For example, managing editor Emily Nussbaum recently stopped people on the street to ask, "Am I hot or not?" (Sample answer: "You're all right.") Nussbaum also called mattress salespeople, looking for a bed built to handle an orgy.
Another regular Nerve feature is A Life's Work, a Q&A with a sex-industry "paraprofessional." In one such interview, the "director of quality control" for a Jersey bra manufacturer bragged that he sees "three or four pairs" of breasts a week and that he prefers a "38-C, 28 to 32 years old, with a nice tan." Dominus says the Q&As tap into the "absurdity and unintentional humor in our everyday existence," with a brashness that produces "good humorif not good taste."
For a fearless magazine, why so few penises? Dominus says showcasing erections would be a "real test of advertisers' tolerance." Then again, Nerve wants to maintain hetero appeal. "If there are too many penises in there," she says, "straight men start to think it's a magazine for gay menwho, of course, they're desperately afraid of being mistaken for." But isn't that a double standard, a fig leaf to protect men from scrutiny?
In the future, Dominus says, the mag hopes to show more dick. "For now, we're still in the seduction process."