February is here, bringing with it Sex Week and its usual panoply of porn stars, hormones, and dating tips. It’s easy to lose sight of the week’s true purpose in the deluge of chocolate vaginas and models in lingerie, but the event serves a critical function: an examination and open discussion of a subject fraught with contradictions.

The media, politicians, spiritual leaders, and the producers of pop culture all have something to say about sexuality and gender issues, and their voices are rarely in accord. Enter Sex Week, bringing its host of sex therapists and television personalities, ready and willing to answer all of your questions.

In this month’s cover story, Abigail Deutsch lends a hand in this breaking down of taboos, and brings us face to face with a place toward which society normally turns a blind eye: Chapel Street’s own Nu Haven Book & Video store. Abby takes us on an unflinching tour of a place where fantasy and fetish meet, and questions what its wares — and the ways in which they are marketed — tell us about perceptions and repressions of sex in our culture.

For many students, Nu Haven is a place close by and yet completely unknown. Alberto Masliah and Tamara Micner also take us to places in and around New Haven of which the majority of Yalies have almost no knowledge.

In his piece “Main Street, Brazil,” Alberto immerses himself in the emerging Brazilian immigrant community of Danbury, Connecticut, and talks with its residents about rootlessness, identity, and the difficulties of living a continent away from home.

Tamara Micner explores the inner workings of Chai society, a social club of sorts run by Lubavitch Jews. The Crown Street institution is often inscrutable to outsiders, and Tamara learns that this shroud of mystery is carefully cultivated by its leaders. Her curiousity piqued after a dinner with its charismatic founder, Micner digs deeper and finds a tale of intellectual debate, religious outreach, and Australian gold mines.

We hope you enjoy this issue.

–Jen Harris and Chris Lapinig