Safer at Home: Exploring the ONE Archives Collection

Week 12 (July 13, 2020)

In this photograph, Lisa Ben (Edith Eyde) sits outside, in a bikini top, enjoying the Los Angeles sun and the pleasure of reading outdoors. She holds the May 1945 issue of Weird Tales, a pulp magazine specializing in supernatural and occult fiction, as she smiles at her photographer. By this time, Ben had long been a science fiction fan, and it was her interest in the occult that had brought her to Los Angeles, where she found community as part of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS). Even before her move to LA, she had written a letter to Voice of Imagination (VOM) in June of 1941 under her pseudonym, Tigrina the Devil Doll, saying, “I have always wished to belong to such an organization as yours, as I am deeply interested in the Occult, particularly Witchcraft and Black Magic.” Stuck in her childhood home in Fremont, California, Tigrina felt moved to express the camaraderie she felt with other science fiction fans and the community that publications like VOM created. In Los Angeles, she met VOM’s publisher Forrest J. Ackerman and Jim Kepner, who published sci-fi zines, including Toward Tomorrow and The Western Star. Science fiction was not the only interest they shared. Tigrina, adopting the name Lisa Ben (an anagram for lesbian) would publish Vice Versa in 1947, the first lesbian magazine in the United States. 

Ben’s love of science fiction and its envisioning of new realities filtered into her writing for Vice Versa. Of note is her line in Issue 4 where she states: “Perhaps Vice Versa might be the forerunner of better magazines dedicated to the Third Sex which, in some future time, might take their rightful place on the news stands beside other publications, to be available openly and without restriction.” Her wish for the future, of course, would become a reality. Wishing, hoping, or imagining a world different than the one in which one currently lives does not make for a new reality, but it is an important step in working toward a new way of being that is safer, more accepting, and more equitable. 

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