From The Publisher

Sometimes, We Hate Being Right


Sometimes, We Hate Being Right
SMOKE SIGNALS MAGAZINE - November - December 2012

We were recently making our rounds of various smoking fetish messageboards, sites and other gathering spots. We do it for several reasons. Of course, because in addition to publishing Smoke Signals, we're into the fetish as much as anyone else. We also want to know what people are talking about. And lastly, we have the annoying and difficult task of issuing requests to have our copyrighted material removed from file-sharing sites and the like.

This time, though, we were struck by something.

For many years, we've been preaching (some might say we've been railing) against the increasing amount of "sharing" - some, including us, would call it "stealing" - of videos that have been produced at great expense by smoking fetish companies. We've warned (some might say we've lectured) about what we thought would eventually happen, if people continued to simply *take* material from others, instead of purchasing it themselves.

Our prediction was simple: if people stopped buying, there would be less and less incentive for producers to continue making new material. Many producers would go out of business, and others would make a lot fewer videos - meaning there would be a drastic drop in the amount of new smoking fetish material available. And of the new material produced, much would be from people with smaller budgets or no experience, meaning it would be lower in quality. As you all know, the prediction about producers going out of business or producing much less material has certainly come true. But what about the rest?

Back to our recent observations on the boards. We found, to a huge extent:
1. People were largely trading old material back and forth, or posting free material readily available on sites like YouTube.
2. People were requesting old material that they'd heard about or seen at some point in the past.
3. People were complaining about the lack of new material being shot, or about the quality of new material.
4. People were still making excuses about why they wouldn't buy from established producers. There were a few exceptions, of course, but that's a pretty good summary of the bulk of the posts we read.

So, it seems to us, we weren't selling doom and gloom all those years ago when we made our predictions. We were, sadly, pretty much on the money. And we take no joy in that.

Enjoy the November-December issue!

The Mind Works in Strange Ways


The Mind Works in Strange Ways
SMOKE SIGNALS MAGAZINE - September - October 2012

If you're like us, much of your "fetish satisfaction" follows a familiar path, at least day-to-day. You may visit your "regular" membership sites, you may surf the web looking for new material, you may watch your favorite DVDs, clips or those well-preserved videotapes you've had for years. You may read stories, you may relive special memories, you may still (although it's awfully difficult now) go out looking for real-life sightings, or you may (if you're fortunate) indulge with a smoking partner.

But every so often, something happens that is totally unexpected - and it may just remind you that there are fetish triggers deep in your memory about which you'd completely forgotten. One such occurrence happened a few weeks ago to us. It started with a quick email from Vesperae, pointing us to a Daily Motion video. Without giving it much thought, we clicked on the link - and were almost immediately transported to a fetish wonderland we hadn't even remembered.

The link to was a music video: "I Feel the Magic" by Belinda Carlisle. It's certainly not from one of our favorite musical genres; we don't even remember the music itself. But even so, we were immediately transported back to the mid-80s. That's because once upon a time, we were just walking by the TV and caught a brief glimpse of the video on MTV (or perhaps VH1) - in which a very cute Belinda was singing while holding a smouldering cigarette.

At the time, we were with someone who had no idea of our smoking fetish, and couldn't stop walking and talking, let alone stare at the screen to watch the entire video. We had no idea what song it was or what album it came from - and of course, there was no internet on which to search in a more private moment. Later on, however, we did spend hours and hours scanning MTV and VH1 hoping to see the video again. We never did, despite several years of a "Holy Grail" type of search. Did Belinda hold the cigarette for the entire video? Did she inhale? Did she, even better, ever exhale a thick cloud of smoke in the video? We had no idea.

We weren't exactly fixated on finding the video again - but for quite a while, the video search was something we never gave up. It just because less and less important as we entered the age of online chat rooms, smoking video and everything that followed. And eventually, we forgot about the Belinda Carlisle video. Until a few weeks ago. The excitement, the anticipation - it was almost as if we were back in the late 1980s, watching with baited breath just hoping to see something magical.

It was, as most things unfortunately are, anticlimactic. She only held the cigarette for brief moments scattered throughout the video, and never inhaled, let alone exhaled. But the excitement of actually "finding" a fetish grail, and watching it, transported us back to a time when we weren't quite as jaded, nor quite as overloaded with smoking fetish video filmed in perfect light with exceptional smokers. It was, in a word exciting.

And it led us to wonder in amazement at how the mind works. We didn't just remember that we had seen the few seconds of the video; we didn't just remember that we had tried in vain to find the rest of it; we didn't just recall the sense of excitement we had at the time. We immediately felt the same feelings, emotion, anticipation and excitement we had felt 25 years ago, as if no time had passed at all.

And it led us to wonder: is the fetish that strong - or it simply that the mind is that amazing?

If you're interested in seeing the video, you can find it here.

And enjoy the September-October issue!

Smoke Like A Lady


Smoke Like a Lady

We recently saw an article that caught our attention: a company called "Skinnygirl Cocktails" is launching a new ad campaign for their new products: Skinnygirl Vodka with Natural Flavors, Skinnygirl The Wine Collection and new ready-to-serve cocktails. The ad campaign includes TV commercials that will run on Bravo, HGTV, Food Network and E! as well as print.

The theme of the campaign might interest readers of this space: "Drink Like a Lady."

The company says that “Skinnygirl consumers are smart, savvy and successful ladies who are leaders — not followers — and they connect with Skinnygirl because it’s a brand that continues to blaze new trails and is solutions-driven. This campaign has been created exclusively with these women and their social circles in mind.” And the ad agency says that "the campaign celebrates women making their own rules, as they enjoy each other’s company and 'Drink Like a Lady.'"

Can you imagine the possibilities if the anti-smoking forces hadn't been so successful in demonizing smokers over the last couple of decades? Just substitute the word "smoke" for the word "drink."

Virginia Slims, anyone?

What makes this story even more frustrating, is that one of the biggest electronic cigarette companies in America is preparing to launch a new product line in July: Vapor Couture. The "fashionable" e-cigs are slim, come in designer colors and patterns, and even come with a clutch purse to accomodate the batteries, cartridges and chargers.

These campaigns are obviously based on extensive market research, which says to us that a "new" Virginia Slims campaign would be an enormous success - had the anti-smoking lobby not demonized cigarette smoking to the point of near-extinction. (The continuing success of hookah lounges, and the recent statistics showing that more young people smoke pot than cigarettes, makes us believe that it's not smoking itself that is viewed as evil - it's just cigarette smoking.)

Designer E-smoking, and "feminine drinking" as lifestyle and fashion statements, have convinced us more than ever that the golden age of smoking could well still be with us, if it weren't for outside forces. What a shame.

Enjoy the July-August issue!

Hey, Look at Me!


Hey, Look at Me!

We're sure there are some readers of this space who are fans of reality TV shows. We'd also guess there are many more who can't stand those shows - but we'd probably all agree, that reality TV is huge.

We're not talking about Storage Wars or Pawn Stars or some of the shows on Food Network. We're talking about shows that follow the lives of people who would be otherwise uninteresting - or completely meaningless - if they weren't on television doing off-the-wall things for the camera. We're talking about shows focusing on uneducated duck hunters and brain-dead socialites and anyone named Kardashian.

We don't want to sound sexist, but ratings research shows that the audiences for these shows are primarily female and relatively young. And when you team that with the fact that the heaviest users of Facebook are young females, you can draw some rudimentary conclusions and make some probably unfair generalizations about young women in the year 2012. As you've probably guessed, we have done just that. And our probably unfair generalization is that many not only enjoy watching the intimate "inside story" of peoples' lives - they enjoy sharing their own.

Why is this something we felt the need to share? It's because we've been trying to understand a development in the smoking fetish world that has taken on a life of its own.

As you're no doubt well aware, the number of young women who post self-shot videos of themselves smoking to YouTube has increased dramatically over the last year or so. Some are well done, while some are so amateurish that you can't even really tell that the ladies are actually smoking. But the number keeps increasing.

We, of course, have noticed this trend. And it occurred to us that there might be an opportunity there for everyone. We could make suggestions as far as camera angles, lighting and so on, the videos could be posted on one of our sites, and the female smokers could benefit by sharing in revenue raised from displaying the videos.

So we approached some of the young women posting to YouTube, and offered them the opportunity to make some money from the smoking videos they're currently displaying for free. Most didn't bother to explain why, but the overall response was "thanks, but no thanks." The impression we got that either the women didn't want to bother with any extra steps in posting their videos, or that they just weren't interested in making money from their videos. The exposure was all they were really interested in.

We'll leave it to more astute armchair psychologists to take this a step further, in understanding why money is of no interest to these ladies. But if any astute armchair psychologists were to say "It's because they're only interested in the attention, and since they won't be getting their own reality shows any time in the near future and probably won't even have a chance to appear on Tosh.0, this is the closest they'll come to their fifteen minutes of fame" - we wouldn't disagree.

It's a shame, not only because we saw a business opportunity but because we saw an opportunity to improve the quality of some of the self-shot video that's out there. But that's one more change in our world at which we can only shake our heads.

Anyone want to bankroll a smoking reality series? THAT one might fly.

Enjoy the May-June issue!

What If...?


What If.....?

The continuing anti-smoking trend shows no signs of letting up (ironically, even as the eventual legalization of marijuana seems inevitable), our pessimistic side believes more firmly than ever that sightings of female smokers are destined to dwindle to almost nothing. And with the smoking rate continuing to drop, the number of smoking models available for video shoots will most likely continue to decline as well.

With that in mind, we've started to wonder lately whether women or models, smoking electronic cigarettes will someday have to actually be a somewhat-viable alternative for those of us with smoking fetishes. We believe we have been as vocal as anyone out there, in our disdain for "fake cigarettes" and for those who would suggest video of e-cigarette smoking as any sort of alternative to smoking video. We continue to feel that the two are anything but interchangeable; smoking an e-cigarette is NOT smoking.

However, our curiosity has gotten the better of us. It's hard to tell from promotional videos released by e-cigarette companies whether a real smoker could actually look like she was smoking when she was actually using an e-cig.

And so, we have tried electronic cigarettes. Among other things, we wanted to see whether there's any chance that our smoking fetish could be "fooled" into thinking that e-cigarette vapor was really smoke - and whether they were palatable enough so that people would actually consider them as viable alternatives, rather than quit smoking entirely.

Here's what we found. First of all, they ARE palatable. In fact, they're actually not bad. They taste and feel, more or less, like cigarettes do. It would take a while, however, to get accustomed enough to the taste and feel - before anyone would consider them "normal." They also sometimes require several inhales in order to accumulate enough vapor to get the feeling of full lungs - since the ones that won't blow up in your mouth have safety features that prevent you from dragging on the device for too long.

Secondly, they look like least, from a distance. Up close, you can see that there's no smoke coming from the cigarette itself or ashes accumulating, and the cherry looks like a little LED (which is what it is). Some brands have different colored LEDs (and some even have different colored "filters" or "cigarettes") which makes it pretty obvious that you're looking at an e-cig, once you get close.

Now for the important question: what does the "smoke" look like? Here, we're happy to say, is where the good news comes. If a smoker takes in enough vapor (sometimes, as we say, requiring several inhales), there's plenty of vapor to exhale. We were able to do french inhales, snaps, thick nose and mouth/nose exhales, residual exhales, talking exhales, and lots of smoke rings without any problem. Two caveats: we understand that some e-cigarettes are nowhere near as strong as others and the weaker ones don't create big enough vapor clouds to actually resemble a real smoking experience. And we understand that dark side desires would probably never be satisfied by watching someone use an electronic cigarette.

So the bottom line for us is: if the unthinkable ever happens - e-cigarettes would be at least a partial solution from a smoking fetish point of view. Certainly not desirable, but we believe it WOULD be better than nothing.

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