What: LA Zine Fest
When: Sunday, March 6th 2016
Where: The Majestic, Downtown Los Angeles, CA.
A zine (pronounced “zeeeen”, rhymes with “mean”) is a non-commercial, handmade magazine, and Los Angeles threw a festival in celebration of the art form where creators could sell their zines and artwork. I’d never actually laid my hands on a zine, but had heard a lot about the art form. I was curious, and that lead me downtown on a moderately gloomy Sunday afternoon.
The front entrance was lit. Literally. I had to walk past a cloud of cigarette smoke in order to enter the venue.
Once inside, I was met by an info table that held a map, similar to a mall directory. I picked one up and didn’t look at it because “Omg I’m in the way… there are so many people here… find a corner… find a corner!”
Seeking safe haven from the overwhelming bustle that was the first floor, I ventured upstairs to find the library which held samples of the zines on display at the booths. Some of the publications were draped over a clothes hanger-like contraption in the center of the room, while others laid across a table in a haphazard fashion. Attendees stood around and read the zines, myself included.
There was beauty in the details here- keeping the theme of the library alive, the Zine Fest organizers provided pencils and forms to serve as reminders of what you liked in the library for when you were on the ground floor. Each zine had a sticker placed on it with the number of the booth it could be found at. Oh, and that big map I’d already hidden in my fanny pack? It showed me where I could find each booth.
Gravitating towards nude portraits, film photography, poetry, and feminist magazines, I found quite a few Zines in the library that I wanted to shove in my fanny pack alongside the map (I didn’t, I promise!)
I read a blurb from Suzy Gonzalez’s zine called Vegan-Feminist Perspectives about how veganism is a feminist issue. She wrote about how if you look deep enough, you’ll find that the animal product industry capitalizes off of the female reproductive system. Take the dairy industry for example- female cows are kept pregnant through insemination in order to produce massive amounts of milk for the consumer. Her reproductive organs are exploited and used.
Just past the library laid a fort-like contraption with billows of pillows, upon which attendees strewn themselves about, some napping, most reading zines from a bucket of publications provided for the area. I didn’t lay down and read- strange pillows give my stomach an uneasy feeling.
Ready to venture down into the chaos, I left the safety of the upper level and made my way through the isles. The main floor held over 200 vendor booths, a video game section, and a quiet area in a corner reserved for painting and doodling.
The zine vendors offered complimentary cookies, candies, and gum to lure readers, and buyers, in which definitely worked on me. Gimme candy.
Empowerment of minorities was a common theme amongst the zines. A few of my favorites were Rebecca Peloquin’s “Flawless” published by Repel Industries based in LA. Rebecca describes the project as, “a 28 page full color photography zine geared to tackle the issue of body shaming. It features 24 nude photographs of a variety of demographics to illustrate the differences in people are what make them valuable…”
I made a comment about how non-sexual the nude photography project is to which she replied, “People say, ‘It’s nice to just stare at these bodies without having the subject know’.”
I was also stoked to see Lora Mathis, a photographer, poet, and singer who’s living in a revolutionary way- practicing “Radical Softness” which they described in a recent interview with Hooligan Magazine, "Radical softness is the idea that unapologetically sharing your emotions is a political move and a way to combat the societal idea that feelings are a sign of weakness."
The zine fest floor was filled with publications created by feminists, political activists, graffiti artists, photographers, cartoon-drawers, comic strip makers, poets, and everything in between. It was a place for creatives and visionaries to gather, share ideas, and pick up inspiration from each other. Although crowded, the space felt safe and inclusive (the bathrooms were gender neutral), the security didn’t seem to be worried about a thing.