Xtra!

Number 508, April 15, 2004

Give a squeeze
Fresh fruit ripe for the picking

It often seems putting out a zine is as much about trying to find dates as
it is to share information. Part art project, part want ad, zines take a lot
of work to produce and, with often limited results, are clearly a labour of
love.

Zine fairs seem to attract a unique sort of person, one who is hip enough to
be in on the action, yet nerdy enough to want to read about someone else's
manias. In the world of zines minutiae are king. And queer zines are no
different, other than the fact that they are a subculture within a
subculture. The upcoming Fruit Market: Queer Zine, Art And Craft Fair, is
organized by Jon Pressick, publisher and editor of the zine Trade: Queer
Things, a publication that's just over four years old, a fairly remarkable
feat in zinedom where a second issue often seems a rarity.

"There are more queer zinesters out there than ever before," says Pressick.
"These artists need to be celebrated with their own day." More to the point,
he suggests that making zines creates a sense of community. While queers are
not excluded from other zine fairs, having events like Fruit Market
reinforce community ties, an important element for such projects not only to
survive, but also to flourish.

This year marks the second coming of the Fruit Market. Last year's event
raised more than $600 for the Lesbian Gay Bi Youth Line. This year's profits
are going towards Buddies In Bad Times' Rhubarb Festival.

Pressick threw himself into the world of queer zines after reading an
article entitled "Punk-Lad, Dyke-Core And The Evolution of Queer Zine
Culture In Canada," published in the alternative culture mag Broken Pencil
(Brokenpencil.com) back in 1999. His love of zines has continued to evolve
since then. This year's Fruit Market is not only a celebration of queer
zines and culture, but also marks the launch of Trade's first literary
anthology, Anacoenesis. Though Trade has never published fiction or poetry
before, Pressick considers himself "a lit geek at heart," and decided to put
out the anthology. Anacoenesis consists entirely of poetry and fiction drawn
from more than 100 submissions from around the world.

Both readings and bands will feature throughout the afternoon. Darren Greer,
author of Tyler's Cape and Still Life With June, both published by Cormorant
Books, will read a short story included in Anacoenesis. Performance artist
and host of High Femme Fridays, Miss Kitty Galore will read from her
forthcoming novel Mosh Pit, published by Red Deer Press. Also reading will
be Hadassah Hill, multi-talented writer, performer, spoken word artist and
clothing designer.

On the musical side of things are Scandalnavia and Cougar Party.
Scandalnavia is an "all queer five-piece proto-electro punk rap band
dedicated to DIY fun, stage theatrics and video." Cougar Party are four
girls "screaming about sex, crappy bosses and inconsiderate friends." They
currently have a four-song demo out.

At the heart of zine culture is the desire for creation, to fill that void
from feeling left out of more mainstream culture. That's why zines range
from the intensely personal to the dryly political. From hand-written and
screen printed to slick computer layout, zines are a way claiming space and
expressing one's self. The aptly named Fruit Market is ripe with creativity.
Stop by and pick up some fresh goods.


Zine & be zine

The best and worst thing about zines is that anyone can put one out. But do
not worry; Fruit Market is sure to serve up plenty of sweet treats for
everyone. On the whole, queer zines are more interesting and engaging than
their straight counterparts. Perhaps the more sub the culture, the more pure
the drive and the more astute the cultural observations. Or maybe it is just
that queers have a much easier time talking about sex than everyone else.

As you explore the scores of compulsive artistic and political projects on
offer at the fair, keep a look out for the following:

- Ian McNulty produces the wildly amusing Square Triangles, subtitled The
Zine For Gay Nerds. He is currently up to issue number five, the Rejection
issue. It includes the "Square Triangles Guide To Getting Loved, Laid Or
Even Liked." In it, readers are encouraged to declare themselves legally
unattractive as a way to write off taxes. Whether or not you are a
self-declared nerd, the Square Triangles manifesto nicely sums up the
impetus for zine production. McNulty promises to talk about, amongst other
things, "mental illness, insecurity, giant squids, making shit up and how on
earth you meet other people who are either similar to you or so different
from everyone else they might as well be."

One of my favourite things about Square Triangles is that way its truths and
lies are so convoluted. It is hard to tell where one begins and the other
ends. Square Triangles provides just enough truth to make its lies
believable. Well, to a degree anyway. Do not be surprised if after reading
this zine you wind up convinced that No Logo author Naomi Klein really did
do a reading at a circuit party.

- Catherine Stinson, co-founder of the Toronto chapter of The Church Of
Craft (Churchofcraft.org) has produced a collection of hand-made crafty
items she calls Deadpan Designs (Deadpan.ca). These include knit wristbands,
vinyl Boobie Bags (available in assorted colours and cups sizes) and Dog
Bags featuring embroidered dog "quotes" such as, "Today I bit the mailman,"
or for more frisky folks, "Today I humped some bitch."

-Smut zine (Showmethesmut.com), put out by Jen Bowers and Kate Gilliam, is
one of those publications that teeter on that blurry edge between zines and
non-zines. Smut is thicker and slicker than most zines. It has crisp, clear
photos and is produced to "entertain, titillate and enervate the
sex-positive community at large." While not strictly a queer publication,
Smut will give you a lot to read through. There is an interview with a
dominatrix, sexual horoscopes, an interview with local porn producers Dirty
Pillows and lots of (you guessed it) smut. There is also a good deal of
practical information such as book, video and dildo reviews.

-Una Crow's Monstress is on its fifth issue. This zine, largely about the
darker side of life, centres on a different monster each issue. The sixth
issue is subtitled "The Devil Is 6," and has articles on the West Memphis
Three, Christian apocalypse films, Satanic ritual abuse and
choose-your-own-adventure-style fiction.

-Sandy Plotnikoff's never-ending button and snap project will continue at
Fruit Market. Plotnikoff, with button machine in tow, makes buttons and
snaps on the spot. If you have ever wanted a button made of anything from
blue jean fabric to velcro and reflector tape, Plotnikoff will help you out.
His crafty, colourful bracelets are worn by hipsters all over town.

Many of the zines featured at Fruit Market are part of Fruition: A Queer
Zine Retrospective running at Gallery X in the lobby of Xtra (491 Church St,
#200) until Fri, Apr 30; Fruition's opening reception starts at 6pm on Thu,
Apr 15.

Fruit Market.
$5. Noon-4:30pm.
Sat, Apr 17.
Buddies In Bad Times Theatre.
12 Alexander St.
(416) 975-8555.
Tradequeerthings.com.