Interview with a Zinester: Rachel L!

Rachel, besides being 1/2 of Hoax zine (along with organizer sari!), has written a ton of personal zines including one of my personal favorites “Not Queer as in Radical but Lesbian as in Fuck You.” This will be her second year tabling at Feminist Zinefest and we’re so glad to have her! Here’s more about her work:

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1. Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do.

My name is Rachel, and I am New York City based zinester. I co-edit the feminist compilation zine Hoax with my best friend, Sari. Hoax is a US bi-annual queer feminist compilation zine that aims to create a space to analyze the feminisms of our everyday lives. I additionally write perzines about topics such as community building, queer identity, and mutual aid. 

2. How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone? 

I learned about zines because I was absolutely obsessed with riot grrl when I was a teenager. I read excerpts of all the classic riot grrl zines that had been scanned onto the Internet, and I always had the intention of creating my own feminist zines. I began collecting hard copy zines when I was approximately eighteen years old, as soon as I discovered  Bluestockings and learned that zines could be purchased offline without giving strangers my address (I still had the illusion that there was such a thing as Internet privacy, ha!) I was intimidated by the process of distributing my own work, and so I actively looked for friends who would be interested in working on a project with me. I began working on my first zine, Hoax #1, with Sari during my last year of college. It’s been five years and, during that time, I have worked with others or individually to create 18 different zines. Two more zines – Hoax #10 and Hoax #11, and actively in the works!

3. What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?

Feminist zine making is, to me, the process of asking critical questions. 

Hoax Zine is intended to explore how feminism plays out in our daily lives. Our core values are as following: Accessibility: Circulating content that will be well-received by readers with various levels of reading comprehension skills and keeping the monetary price of the zine at a consistent and optimally affordable amount; Accountability: Reflecting upon our individual privileges and access to various forms of capital, holding ourselves accountable for participation (active or passive) in violence and exclusion perpetuated under the guise of feminism, and accepting constructive criticism to make gender liberation safer for people who are typically marginalized within feminist circles; Education: Taking discussions of feminisms and feminist-related material outside of academia through sharing personal stories and research-driven essays, calling attention to the past and present efforts of feminist-positive work, and learning together via the process of collaborative editing; Empowerment: Bearing witness to people whose voices are traditionally marginalized, erased, silenced, and/or devalued and engaging with the discomfort of having our viewpoints critically challenged; and Safety: Prioritizing the safety of writers and artists by allowing them the option to use pen names and intentionally keeping Hoax’s material off the internet, and of readers by circulating a list of detailed topics of essays to allow them the ability to decide for themselves which material has the potential to be triggering/upsetting/uncomfortable to them.

My personal zines are mostly on the topics of queer identity and feminist community building. Feminism has been an immensely influential epistemological framework in my life, and my writing is rarely divorced from that influence.  

4. What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?

I have two favorite zines of all time. The first is My Life With Evan Dando Popstar. This zine was written by Kathleen Hanna in the early 90’s, and it was the first zine I ever read that taught me that zines can be  intentional and artful. It is a work of semi-autobiographical fiction that uses the narrative of a female stalker who is obsessed with Evan Dando from The Lemonheads, as well as strategically employed irony, to explore the male gaze, “good art,”  and what it means to be a female artist. 

My other favorite zine is “Picking Up he Pieces *or* What Have I Done, and What am I Going to Do About It.” This is an autobiographical zine about witnessing the death of a parent, transfeminine identity, depression, transitioning, and detransitioning. My friend lent me his copy earlier during the year, and I could not put it down. If you ever come across a copy, I highly suggest canceling whatever nonsense you have planning for the afternoon & set aside an hour or three to read it.

Other shout outs go to: You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania, Mixed Up, The Worst, Your Secretary, Whatstheirname, Malcriada, The Future Generation, and Mend my Dress

5. If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?

If I could sum up my zinester life in a kitchen appliance, I would be a high-efficiency processor. The type that over-mashes your food into NOTHINGNESS  if you press “on” for too long. 

Likewise, if I could sum up my zinester life in my just regular household appliance, I would be a paper shredder because I am disorganized and love to deconstruct the truths that I am presented with. Also, because punks never follow the rules ;-P  

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