LEONARD KOREN WAS THE FOUNDER and creative director of WET Magazine, which was published in Venice, California from 1976 to 1981. Its unusual subject matter — gourmet bathing as well as other esoteric topics — combined with its distinctive layout and design, made WET remarkable. I was a WET subscriber and the magazine's wit, depth, and style helped me get through the doldrums of the late 1970s.
Among the contributors were Matt Groening in his pre-Simpson days, Ed Ruscha, Leonard Cohen, Eve Babitz, and Lewis MacAdams. There were riveting interviews with Kenneth Anger, David Hockney, Dick Dale and Elvis Costello; and there were articles on unusual people including Henry Darger, Robert Smithson and Nikola Tesla. The best pieces were the most recondite — they covered such topics as psychic surgery in the Philippines, gourmet bubbles, insect erotica and the eternal nature of coffee. Getting WET was bliss.
Koren has just written a book about the history of the magazine: Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing. I interviewed him in Hollywood, this past March, when he was in town for a book signing.
— Victoria Dailey
Gourmet bathing is a watertight case for the beneficial impact of sensuality on human affairs. The difference between gourmet bathing and meditation, say, or hydrotherapy is that gourmet bathing has no higher goals, rules, or disciplines.
It just is (you do it so you can just "be")...
(All excerpts from Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing)
Leonard Koren: When I was in college, as an undergraduate, I thought there must be more to life than accumulating money and buying things. I found myself, at about twenty-one-years-old, at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. This was a year or two after the San Francisco Zen Center had purchased it, and they were building a kitchen and doing a lot of remodeling work. A friend of mine also showed up there and they put us to work. They said that we could meditate if we wanted to, or not, and we could spend time in the baths. So we worked for three or four days and then I decided to try the Zazen. At the time I was smoking cigarettes, which I did for about three years. Meditating and giving up cigarettes were the two hardest things I had done in my life to that point. But even though it was so difficult, sitting still with your legs crossed for a long period of time (the pain of it), it was intriguing and I realized it was a path, so for a number of years, maybe twenty-five, maybe longer, maybe thirty or forty, I meditated every day. Then I stopped meditating about two years ago.