Zines (rhymes with "beans") are publications which have a much smaller circulation (under 100,000) than mainstream magazines. Many zines purposely try to stay underground and are designed to be as anti-corporate looking as possible. Other zines are small because they appeal to a very narrow market. We believe there is a zine covering every subject. We intend to bring them all to your attention.
However, some mainstream magazines with much larger circulations capture our interest too and we include them if we think they are great or are of particular interest to you. Therefore, please do not make hasty judgments about a publication's actual circulation just because we chose to place their review in this section.
Please mention that you saw these publications reviewed in Gray Areas when you send for them. Otherwise, they may not send us future issues or advertise with us.
If an individual's name is used, please make checks out to them and not to the magazine's name.
Finally, if you wish to send us zines for review, please subscribe or at least enclose $8.00 ($12.00 foreign) to receive the issue your review appears in. If your zine does not deal with gray subjects, or is not a personal favorite of one of our staff members, we are likely to put it at the bottom of the piles while we support those zines which financially support this column.
AMERICAN HACKER (3494 Delaware Ave., Suite #111, Buffalo, NY 14217-0123. $29.95/year (12 issues), add $5 for Canada/Mexico, add $20 for all other countries, 10 pages) Carrying the baton passed on to them from their predecessor, Scrambling News, David and his friends produce a fine info-packed zine. American Hacker is dedicated to "Cable & Satellite Television - Computers - Technology." It's ten pages packed with small type, overflowing with news on computer programs of interest to computer, cable and phone hackers. There are some really technically detailed articles along with several schematic diagrams of electronic equipment. And some simple straightforward news and views can also be found. Nice job. (Alan Sheckter)
ANSWER ME! (Goad To Hell Enterprises, P.O. Box 31009, Portland, OR 97231. $5.00 with age statement/132 pages) Jim and Debbie Goad are two of the most astonishing writers (read: thinkers ) on the planet. That's why most folks can't stand them. Their words and pictures fly off the page in a grisly explosion of honesty and hatred. Issue #4 is the already-notorious Rape issue, and I was disturbed for weeks after reading it. Typically, stores and distributors nationwide have since leapt lemming-like off the ANSWER Me! bandwagon. What's preposterous here is the notion that the Goads invented all this tragedy; they're simply unflinching reporters. Strong stuff indeed, but it's all happening in your home town right now. Many guest authors this time out, including Adam Parfrey's virulent piece on Andrea Dworkin, Boyd Rice's "Revolt Against Penis Envy," an article by mysterious F*CK publisher Randall Phillip, an anal date-rape comic strip, even an actual rape board game! Most importantly, no viewpoint is left unexplored (including a few you didn't know you had). Rounding it out is an hilarious piece on a zine-world scam perpetrated by the Goads which surely left several scenesters watching their own behinds. If you want wholesome and fuzzy, trendy or trashy, keep looking. Likewise, if you think TIME, Newsweek or MAXIMUMROCKNROLL are peddling the truth, keep thinking. ANSWER Me! gives you the world in all its disgrace and despair. This is brave and crucial work---just ask the legions of PC clones who insist it's pro-rape per se or merely shock-art. But the Goads enjoy a higher intelligence, and use language as it was intended: to confront, resist and devastate. Those who dismiss their magazine are coddling themselves. Get it while it's still legal, hepcats. You might learn something.
NOTE: The Goads are now selling their first three amazing (and long-out-of-print) issues in a softbound book, with new intros by both Jim and Debbie and killer cover art. $13 ppd. plus age statement to address above. You need it more than you need most things. (Joe Coughlin)
THE BEAR ESSENTIAL (P.O. Box 10342, Portland, OR 97210. $10.00/year (2 issues), $15.00/year (Canada), $20.00/year (other foreign), 72 pages) This fine environmentally focused publication comes from the folks at Orlo, a non-profit organization from the great northwest. The writing is intelligent and thorough. "Combining straight-ahead news, subtle advocacy and irreverent foolery, The Bear Essential is a street-level and hands-on approach to the world around us." There's a lot of satire in the stories, features, departments and cartoons that appear. Their "Big Tree Service: We Keep 'Em Standing" T-shirt has garnished some attention. There are a lot of folks who talk the talk about conservation in nature. The folks at Orlo walk the walk. (Alan Sheckter)
THE BEER CLUB BREWSLETTER (The Beer Club, P.O. Box 3898, Napa, CA 94558. (707) 226-2025, Beer costs - approx. $14.00/half case, $27.00/case + shipping, I can't tell whether their is a membership fee, 4 pages) This "monthly connection to the best US microbreweries" offers news, recipes, trivia, and of course, the product itself, fine American brews shipped right to your door. A recent edition offered Humboldt Brewing Company's Red Nectar Ale, Full Sail Brewing Company's Amber Ale and Golden Pacific Brewery's Golden Bear Lager. For the discriminating beer drinker. (Alan Sheckter)
BIZARRE (Bizarre Publishing, P.O. Box 429, Orange, CA 92666. $50.00/year (4 issues), 84 pages, send age statement of 18+) This quarterly, super high quality glossy magazine has the photographic and print quality of a supermarket periodical, but not the subject matter. The focus here is sexual "fetish and fantasy." Articles/ features include items like the bondage scene in Japan, scandalous shoes and boots, corsetry, fetish-rock with The Genitorturers and Duchess DeSade, etc. All articles are accompanied by provocative photos, though few rely on total nudity for arousal. If you like high-class intimate leather, bondage outfits of all types, all shown with top-notch illustrations, Bizarre is for you. (Alan Sheckter)
CELEBRATOR BEER NEWS (P.O. Box 375, Hayward, CA 94543. $3.00/sample issue, $14.95/6 issues, $18.00/Canada, $26.00/other foreign, 48 pages) This newspaper format "BrewsPaper" has lots of world-wide news and views of interest to any serious beer lover. Aside from the scads of cool ads from microbreweries (most from California, but others nationwide) are serious hops-related news. A very substantial publication. (Alan Sheckter)
FARM PULP (217 NW 70th Street, Seattle, WA 98117-4845. $2.00/sample issue, $10.00/6 issues, 24 pages, but most pages are folded to open out. A "juxtaposing little zine for the tired of standing," this one is a haphazard collection of assorted tidbits. Most are a bit twisted, using bits of old articles in satirical fashion along with odd drawings and graphics. There are several zine reviews and a few music reviews. But to show how strange the folks at Farm Pulp are, the three record reviews are Aaron Copeland's Billy The Kid symphony, Connie Francis Sings Italian Favorites and Zamfir's pan flute music. If you can make sense of how they fit together, you are more nuts than they are. Bizarre. (Alan Sheckter)
I'M SO F---ING BEAUTIFUL (Nomy Lamm, 4221 Indian Pipe Lp. NW, tesc p107, Olympia, WA 98505. $1.00) Be warned: 1) The full name appears prominently on the mailing; your local P.O. might not dig that. 2) The address changes frequently. My copy took several months to arrive. Now, the first issue of this was so universally praised, I had to check it out. This is a fat punk girl writing about being a fat punk girl, emphasis on fat, and nothing else. You'd think a single issue would suffice, but the new one's four times bigger and covers the exact same ground. While the tone suggests freedom from societal pressures and stereotypes laid on fat punk girls, this ultimately bummed me out. Rant after rant about how it's OK to be a fat punk girl, really it is! But the people who need to hear it most don't read zines, so the line between defiance and self-pity gets blurred. I felt like Nomy's therapist reading this, unable to believe she's as proud and happy as she claims; the whole thing seems painfully stuck in her craw. Zines in general don't merit such analysis, but this one just howls for attention. Nomy: you sound like a swell enough person, but it still comes off like an apology. True liberation means not having to justify it to a bunch of strangers. There's more important stuff to worry about. Either fix it, or relax and really, truly enjoy yourself. (Joe Coughlin)
HEAT GENERATION (P.O. Box 1026, Coraopolis, PA 15108. Free, but send something for postage. It's the right thing to do, 4 pages) Fans of the Louisiana cajun/bayou sounds of The Radiators will be smitten with this one.
It has insider's info, including tape and concert reviews and news about The Heat Generation BBS ((401 539-8691). My favorite part of the newsletter is the "Rad's Roots" music column with Kickin' Dave Heller. "The Un-O'Fish-al "Fish Head" Taper's Newsletter" is a good one." (Alan Sheckter)
INTELLIGENCE SPOTLIGHT (7035 Highway 6 So., Ste. 120, Houston, TX 77083. $60.00/12 issues, 8 pages) This new propaganda zine for the extremely conservative begins with a piece about the 1993 "government murder" outside of Waco, Texas. We're talking quasi-military groups, we're talking citizen-built militias. This newsletter is the voice of those folks. There is news from things like the Citizen Militia appearance on Donahue , to national militia sightings, busts and legislation. (Alan Sheckter)
INTERESTING! (P.O. Box 1069, Bangor, ME 04402-1069. $3.00/sample issue, $12.00/4 issues, 28 pages) A creation of Rich Sagall, Interesting! is a collection of facts, things he's read and op-ed essays. There are witty quotes (like Frank Zappa's "The U.S. is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced"), as well as articles on topics that have nothing in common except that they are intriguing. A short piece on collegiate sports and how un-collegiate they are, scams encountered when buying CD players, and Social Security facts all share the same two pages. "The Soap Box" section for writer's opinions is a good idea. My favorite "interesting" bits were how to fix the soggy potato chip (wrap them in paper towels and microwave them for 30 seconds), and the caffeine content chart (80-175 mg in a six oz. cup of coffee, 30-45 mg in a Coke, 130 mg in two Excedrin and 200 mg in two NoDoz). Cool zine! (Alan Sheckter)
IRON FEATHER JOURNAL (P.O. Box 1905, Boulder, CO 80306. $4.00/sample issue, 92 pages) What used to be a 5" x 8" zine is now full-size, and by golly they say of Gray Areas , "this phresh mag inspired the phun crew to go try the IFJ at full size." Laid out in the wonderful, slightly chaotic zine tradition, this is as good as the small press gets. Everything is legible and pleasing to the eye. Articles abound on underground hobbies: (blue boxing, password cracking techniques, where to get X-rated GIFs (with BBS phone numbers), electronic and print zine reviews and even a schematic for an electrolysis chamber. In between articles and in the margins are kewl quotes, cartoons, ads and other weird delights. Send today! (Alan Sheckter)
THE MACHIAVELLIAN (P.O. Box 85, Salvisa, KY 40372. $6.00/sample issue, $25.00/year (4 issues), 22 pages) This "Beat The System Quarterly" is a potpourri for the chronically paranoid, filled with clever info on currency, Ids and counterfeits retail items. There are features like "How To Start Your Own College" (to bestow advanced degrees upon yourself and friends, of course) and "Getting Rid Of Those Pesky Bar-Coded Magnetic Strips Inside The New Money." Very fascinating. (Alan Sheckter)
MANPOWER (Men's Action Council, Box 27365, Golden Valley, MN 55427. $15.00/year, $25.00/year (includes membership, but I don't know what that gives you), 12 pages) In this small premiere issue, ManPower states their purpose, "to establish equal rights for men in the United States." The council has no president and no directors. All members are of equal value and importance. Articles contain topics like "Excluding Our Sons From Work" which protests 1994's "Take Our Daughters To Work Day," and reverse discrimination against men. Is this an important topic worthy of an organization and zine? You decide. (Alan Sheckter)
MANZINE (Source Publications, P.O. Box 654, Monroe, CT 06468-0654, $6.00/sample issue, $21.00/year, 34 pages) This zine is aimed at men and women who enjoy anal sex as well as other alternative forms of sexual pleasure. The wide variety of topics include anything from Greek sex to "The Taste Of Come" to "Women's Rape Fantasies: Dangerous?" Related films, books and CD-ROMS are also reviewed. A no-holds barred zine with honest discussions about the more graphic world of recreational sex. (Alan Sheckter)
NAGUALIST (1057 E. Imperial Highway, Suite 117, Placentia, CA 92670. Write for subscription info, 28 pages) Nagualism was defined in 1894 in text received by the American Philosophical Society as "a study in Native American folklore and history." There are very spiritual letters and articles about dreams and sorcery and about folks like Castaneda's Don Juan.Neatly printed and full of text, this one is likable alternative reading. (Alan Sheckter)
NUTS & VOLTS MAGAZINE (430 Princeland Court, Corona, CA 91719-1343. $17.00/year (12 issues-3rd class), $34.00/year (1st class), $39.00 (foreign-surface), 144 pages) Okay you underground cable de-scramblers, radio hobbyists, cellular hackers, etc., here's a giant newsprint magazine with scads of articles to whet your subversive appetite. Learn how to build a binary clock, a capacitance meter or a short-wave radio. Lotsa stuff on lasers, robots, radar, etc. And most of all, thousands of classifieds for all sorts of equipment, dealing with security, satellite equipment, components, telephone kits and schematics, collectibles and business opportunities. An entire cosmos of info. (Alan Sheckter)
OUT WEST (408 Broad Street, Suite 11, Nevada City, CA 95959. $11.95/year (4 issues), $14.00/foreign, 36 pages) Ah yes, this reminds me of my days and nights traveling the highways of the west in the late 70s. Meals were still under $5.00, motels were under $15.00. Money has changed, and some highways have changed, but the fabulous west still has a lot of tradition in it. Out West chronicle cool stuff the staff encounters in frequent road trips through WA, OR, CA, NV, NM, AZ, etc. Lots of neat photos of road signs, interesting mailboxes, and things like the Elvis Is Alive Museum. A newspaper with charisma. (Alan Sheckter)
PARANOIA (P.O. Box 3570, Cranston, RI, 02910. 56 pages, $4) Perfect, I'd think, for Gray Areas readers, PARANOIA deals with conspiracy theory & government cover-ups. Is cancer contagious? Was Ted Kennedy set up? Is AIDS man-made? And what about those captured UFOs? Exhaustively researched, PARANOIA never runs out of new questions to ask, yet never remotely slides into tabloid territory. Intelligent, accessible, and often unnerving. Almost worth it for the ads alone, where you'll find much more of the same in all mediums. One of my favorites. (Joe Coughlin)
PEDIATRICS FOR PARENTS (P.O. Box 1069, Bangor, ME 04402-1069. $2.50/sample issue, $18.00/year (12 issues), $30.00/2 years, 12 pages) A no-nonsense neat idea, Pediatrics For Parents is a short professional quality journal that is full of info for parents of young patients. Pediatrics For Parents, it says in the masthead, "believes that well-informed parents have happier, healthier children." And who can argue with that? Articles are mostly written by doctors (the editor is also an M.D.), or are taken from national studies or reprinted from other notable health magazines. Sample articles include "Dealing With Children's Anger," "Coping With A Learning Disability," "Pesticide Risks," "Is Your Home Safe For Children" and "Vaccine Reactions." Nicely done. (Alan Sheckter)
RECLAIMING THE AIRWAVES (Free Radio Berkeley, Free Communications Coalition, 1442 A Walnut St., #406, Berkeley, CA 94709, Free, 8 pages) This paper was free, but a statement on the Sept/Oct 1994 issue stated that "This is the last newsletter you will receive, unless we receive the necessary financial support from you. Due to the high costs of printing and mailing we can not continue to do this newsletter." It's a shame to, 'cause this was a great resource for those interested freeing the airwaves. The organization still exists, however, so write them and ask them "What's up?" Does believing that we as citizens should own the airwaves (essentially the air we breathe), instead of some body called the FCC, make you a patriot or a criminal? Gray, gray, gray. (Alan Sheckter)
SMART DRUG NEWS (CERI, P.O. Box 4029, Menlo Park, CA 94026. $6.00/sample issue, $44.00/year (10 issues), 12 pages) A very scholarly medical journal, The Smart Drug News has two medical editors. Absolutely serious in approach, but revolutionary in subject matter and advice regarding these super vitamins. Articles you won't see on the news include "Smart Drugs And Down's Syndrome," "Attention Deficit Disorders," "In Search Of Enhancement" and "Evaluating Personal Health Programs." There is a Q & A section with readers as well as editorials and interviews with experts in this genre. Good source for those who want more serious insight into smart drugs, but bear in mind it may be above the grasp of a majority of the general public. (Alan Sheckter)
SNUFF IT (Chris Korda, Box 261, Somerville, MA 02143. $10.00/6 issues, $20.00/lifetime sub & church membership, 16 pages) This new zine is the "Quarterly Journal Of The Church Of Euthanasia." These guys also run Kevorkian Records which makes sense with that euthanasia theme. At first, I thought The Church only dealt with conventional euthanasia, that is letting humans and other animals with irreversible illnesses and injuries die with dignity. This zine though, portrays a viewpoint of "Save the planet, kill yourself" defending that stance by quoting the facts that world overpopulation is a very realistic future possibility. So, The Church Of Euthanasia backs suicide, abortion, cannibalism and sodomy. And they even have pretty convincing arguments to boot. Poetry and letter sections also appear. (Alan Sheckter)
TRANSFORMATION (P.O. Box 459, Orange, CA 92666. $50.00/4 issues, send age statement (18+), 84 pages) Not just a run of the mill adults-only porn store mag, this one is devoted entirely to crossdressing, you know, women impersonators, those who do it for an occasional kick or for life. Every page contains super high quality glossy photos or drawings to accompany subjects like crossdressing fashions, a look at TVs and TSs, nightclub scenes, book and video reviews. In the issue I previewed, there was a pictorial feature on Frank Marino, an entertainer who does a very believable Joan River. Others, who impersonate Midler, Madonna and Michael Jackson are also are also included. Lots of ads (bedroom fashions, 1-900 phone numbers, even "Mammary Plus" and "Feminique," medically unproven pills to help feminize men. Lots of readers photos, too. (Alan Sheckter)
WATLEY-BROWNE REVIEW (Kali-Amanda Browne, PO Box 205304, Sunset Station, Brooklyn, NY, 11220-7304. $1.00) This is a strange one, hatched by a dozen or so 'editors' who sound suspiciously like the same person. On the surface, stream-of-consciousness ramblings about everything from drinking to romance to job interviews to food to ameoba mating rituals, dotted with bizarre, seemingly-unrelated graphics. But look underneath, and you find that Kali and her multiple personalities actually do tons of research on their topics. Suddenly, none of it seems random. Every sentence feels like a labor of love, even if you don't always know what the hell she's talking about. As alien as it is friendly, as puzzling as it is simple. While I can't give it a flat-out rave, it's still a lot cheaper than drugs. (Joe Coughlin)
WICKED MYSTIC (Andre Scheluchin, P.O. Box 3087, Astoria,
NY 11103. $5.95/sample issue, $23.00/year (4 issues, 72 pages)
A real standout in the ever saturated zine market, this baby has
real quality to it. With a beautiful artistic cover and well laid
out insides, there's lots to get lost in here. Problem for some,
however, may be the gargoyle/evil/ blood/death/gore/horror themes
running throughout. Some of the fiction is arousing in spite of
its gore, the work of 14 artists consists of excellent carnage.
Fiction contents contain "Bone Heap," "Bottles
Of Flesh" and "Up To His Neck In Trouble." Other
features in issue #23 are "Talking Death With Charlee Jacob"
(an interview) and "Letters From Hell." Really good
source if you crave this stuff. (Alan Sheckter)