bulldagger of the season
1981, honey lee cottrell

“the context that I created for the bulldagger centrefold was lifted from the playboy centrefold. the response to that picture was amplified by the context of presentation in a lesbian sex magazine [on our backs].  those of us who are urbane east and west coast dwellers were prepared to take it in their stride; but those in the heartland couldn’t tell if it was ‘real’ or a joke. I think it must’ve been painfully confusing for those people who couldn’t figure out what the intention was.”

“what would I do if I was a centerfold and how can I reflect back to them our values [as lesbians]?” 

honey lee cottrell was a phenomenal butch lesbian photographer whose work was groundbreaking in its exploration of authentic and blatant lesbian sexuality as erotica, defined by an incisive feminist and beautifully raw perspective.

bulldagger of the season operates on multiple levels, and differently depending on the viewer, but not least to consider is its erotic appeal to fems – for its bold and sensual depiction of a confident butch, and also for its subversiveness and politically radical statement, the undertone of playful humour, the keen intelligence, and how brazenly she signals her sexual competence throughout. honey lee’s list of lovers was a who’s who of fem icons – amber hollibaugh, susie bright, tee corinne. she knew what she was doing. she comprehended her own power, and the power of the lesbian gaze:

“the lesbian gaze meant that there was a contemplation, a restraint, a sincerity and a warrior-quality. this lesbian look was compelling. while your heterosexual woman model might compel the rest of the world to look at her, a lesbian was addressing you.”



bulldagger of the season: honey lee cottrell

6 thoughts on “bulldagger of the season: honey lee cottrell

  1. Pingback: lesbo gang bang | persistently fem

  2. I still have her pocket pepper mill, right here. I’m smiling at it across the room as I read your homage. Love you Honey.

    We had so much fun doing this “centerfold,” — I can still remember laughing together as tried out different “answers” to the playmate questions. But they were all honest. We actually did a guérilla invasion of Playboy offices with the Bulldagger centerfold issue, in their Chicago Tower, until we found a gay art director who loved it.

    You can add Melinda Gebbie to HLCs fem icon girlfriends. Melinda was one of the first underground comix artists, you might know her from “Lost Girls.” She was here, along with Amber, when Honey passed away at our house in California. Such great women.

    This still makes me blush to read. We were so in love.

    Liked by 1 person

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