Natalie Bradbury Talks Zines & Riot Grrrl with Cazz Blase

Shrieking_Violet_Zine

Cazz Blaseis something of a fanzine-making veteran. Her first zine, Aggamengmong Moggie, ran from 1993-1999 in the noisy, angry, empowering heyday of riot grrrl zines.

This weekend, Cazz will be doing a talk about how zines helped shape the punk and riot grrrl movements and launching her latest zine, a cut and paste tribute to her home town of Stockport made in collaboration with writer David Wilkinson, at the Victoria Baths Fanzine Convention in Manchester.

The event will celebrate the diversity of self-publishing with stallholders from all over the country, talks, a film screening, exhibition, food, workshops and much more.

Natalie Bradbury, editor of Manchester’s Shrieking Violet fanzine and organiser of the Fanzine Convention, spoke to Cazz to find out why she started making zines and how these fiercely independent, DIY publications gave a generation of young women a place to express themselves.

NB: You started your first zine when you were very young. What did you write about and how did you make it?

CB: I wrote about music in the main, particularly riot grrrl and indie bands, but I also used to do a lot of lists as well as ranty pieces and some sort of earnest investigative reporting, such as a three way investigation into the disappearance of vinyl as a musical format.

I initially produced the covers by hand with a stencil, and the rest of the fanzine was typed and printed off on my mum’s word processor. I found the medium rather intimidating – I was a technological luddite so I sort of had to drag myself through it and teach myself how to type and use a word processor, then later photocopiers.

NB: How did the punk and riot grrrl zine-making communities inspire you?

CB: I was very fortunate to start making fanzines in mid-1993, when there were tons of riot grrrl zines around. That definitely helped. It was normal to be a girl doing a fanzine then, but a lot of them were more personal than I felt mine were.

I admired the bravery of Erica, who wrote Scars and Bruises, which was about depression and angst. One fanzine I would have loved to have read, but never got hold of, was Rampaging Teenage Pervert by a girl called Kate in London. I read an interview with her once, and it sounded like a very funny queercore zine.

Ablaze! 10, Karen Ablaze‘s zine with all the riot grrl stuff in, including the power girl manifesto, had a massive impact on me for a long time. Also, Bobbins! and Grrls World, written by sixth formers in Stockport and Manchester.

Grrl’s World was their ‘We’ve just been to see Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear on tour!’ fastzine, and Bobbins! was a very droll indie zine, which never took itself even remotely seriously but which did have interviews with bands and stuff as well.

The band Golden Starlet (later International Strike Force) also did a cool comic zine. There were some girls in Cambridge who did a fanzine called Smitten as well, and that was really good.

NB: What was the significance of punk and riot grrrl zines to the feminist underground?

CB: These zines ran parallel to Spare Rib, Women’s Report, and more mainstream feminism throughout the eighties and nineties in The Guardian’s women’s pages.

A magazine like Shocking Pink was set up in reaction to Jackie initially, which was the leading mainstream girls mag of the day, and it later found itself reacting to Spare Rib because it was felt by the second collective that Spare Rib didn’t represent younger feminists.

Spare Rib had a terrible time adjusting to punk, and you can see the debates around it played out if you read back issues from the late seventies, so a punk feminist zine like Jolt helped bridge the gap between the two camps.

From a riot Grrrl zine point of view, my take on it is that those fanzines helped to introduce a new generation to feminism, and that they were perhaps more accessible and more welcoming than the idea that you had to read a long list of really very academic books about feminism before you were allowed to call yourself a feminist.

Also, the riot grrrl zines were discussing issues that were relevant to young women – such as being sexually harassed in school – that feminism wasn’t discussing at the time.

Cazz Blase will do a talk entitled “Making a noise: An express ride through the world of punk and riot grrrl fanzines and the UK feminist underground, 1977-2012” in the Committee Room (upstairs in the former superintendent’s flat) at 3.30pm at the fanzine convention this Saturday.

The Victoria Baths Fanzine Convention runs from 10am-5pm on Saturday 19th May at Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, M13 0FE. For more details, see the website.