Hooking up wasn’t always as easy as “get on, get off.” Long before the internet and computers completely invaded every portion of our lives, gay men across the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee relied on , a bi-weekly publication distributed in bars and adult bookstores.

Owned by Q-Notes parent company Pride Publishing & Typesetting, Blue Nights began publication on Oct. 30, 1992. Each issue, ranging from 12-16 pages each, included some personals advertising but mainly focused on the adult and erotica industry.

Editor Dan Van Mourik was responsible for writing and gathering many of the publication’s short erotic stories, porn film reviews and other content.

“We tried to be a source guide for adult entertainment,” he says. “We had ads for the different clubs and events of an erotic nature. It was something that was specifically mean for the erotica market.”

Van Mourik says he enjoyed the job; after all, not many people got paid to watch porn. “It was fun. How can you beat that? You got the review copies for free and you got paid to watch them. It was awesome.”

The first issue of emBlue Nights/em published in 1992.
The first issue of <em>Blue Nights</em> published in 1992.

Pride Publishing owner Jim Yarbrough, who served as Blue Nights‘ publisher and advertising director, said the birth of the publication came from consumer and advertiser demand.

“We didn’t take that kind of advertising — explicitly adult ads — in Q-Notes,” he says, “but we constantly had requests for it. We saw a need and tried to fulfill that need.”

But the publication wasn’t meant to last. By 2000, the entire landscape of adult entertainment and marketing had changed.

“The internet was making it challenging to compete for readers and revenue,” Yarbrough says.

As a result of the market shift, Van Mourik, who wrote for several other adult publications, faced difficulties of his own.

“I used to write for a couple other publishers who did erotic novels and short stories,” he recounts. “It just fell off to nothing. They were asking for less and less and finally we just parted company. I couldn’t make a living in it anymore.”

He says so many adult publishers began to reprint old material, trying to cheaply satisfy whatever demand was left. “There was so much available on the internet, they just couldn’t sell the product anymore.”

Van Mourik, who occasionally wrote news pieces for Q-Notes during the same period, says the past changes of the adult market might just be a harbinger of things to come for the newspaper industry. He thinks everything is moving to digital, accessible directly through the internet.

“You can get it online and it is so much faster and convenient, and most of the time it is free.”

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.