Venus is my life."
Venus, published by Amy Schroeder since 1995, is primarily
about female musicians but also covers women artists, writers and provides
feminist resources. The zine is now in its 10th issue and located in
Chicago, USA. In its beginning, Amy was the sole editor of Venus but
with time, the zine attracted a lot of contributing writers and several
editors. Although Venus is what Amy's life is about, she has also been
one of the organizers of Ladyfest Chicago 2001. And if that's not enough,
she works in her day job as an arts and entertainment editor.
Zobl: How, when and why did you decide to put out a zine? How did you
come up with the idea and the name?
Isabella Gargiulo: Geisa had gone thru sexual abuse as well as
I did, and when she was telling me about it on the phone we came to the
conclusion that rape is just so revolting, it's such a 'hidden' crime
and we girls feel so unpowered... so we decided to tell everyone about
it so that maybe we could get people give a little more thought to the
sexual abuse issue. We want to tell out our stories so that raped girls/boys
can identify with it and also because we wanna break the invisible walls
that surround this subject. It's our big FUCK YOU to a patriarchal society
that tells us to shut up when it comes to rape.
Amy Schroeder: I actually released my first zine when I was about
12 years old. But I didn't know it was a zine at the time. It was called
After School News - I interviewed my friends and asked them random questions.
From an early age, I've always been really into making stuff or producing
things - from talent shows for the kids on my block to mud pies to clothes.
I've also been interested in magazines for a long time. So making a zine
seemed like a natural thing to do. I started Venus because I was antsy.
I'm always antsy unless I'm creating something.
I was taking a women's studies course in college and we were learning
about the mythology of women being from Venus and men being from Mars.
I fantasized about this world where only women lived - I thought it seemed
like a pretty nice place to be. I also wondered if women would be more
empowered on a global scale if men hadn't been around to interrupt women's
work. This is the gist of Venus … it's a space that showcases women's
What does zine making (and reading) mean to you?
IG: Zine making to me means creating our own channel to express
just about everything we wanna say and were never given a chance. It's
so empowering. Especially coz in a lot of occasions it gives a voice
to marginalized groups whose voices (and lives) have never been considered
by mainstream society in general. Zine making is a way to exist, really.
Others know about you and they maybe their lives are as much fucked
up as yours and we can unite and look for solutions or just exchange
ideas, which is so important... Same for reading zines. I personally
love it. I don't care if the person who did it belongs to this or that
'crew', fuck it if my friends or my ghetto don't like it, I buy them
and I read them nevertheless just because I love the whole idea of zine-making
from the bottom of my heart. It seems absurd to say all this but once
you're inserted in some sort of hardcore-punk context you can really
notice how people keep themselves from buying such and such zines coz
their friends probably wouldn't like it or something like that. Bah.
My zine is about rape. Rape is all around and I want everyone to know
about it whoever they are, and as well as mine there are other zines
which talk about relevant issues but because of 'scene' rules like friend
groups whatsoever, they don't get bought and that's just so sick.
AS: It means freedom: doing what I want to do, saying what I
want to say, featuring women who don't always get recognition in other
What do you love (and maybe don't) about zine making?
IG: see above answer
AS: I love the rush of the creative and communication processes.
I love the information-gathering process. We do our best to be timely
in covering the latest music and art made by women. What I love most
is hearing from readers from around the world. The part I don't like
is the financial struggle. Since we barely break even (and sometimes
we lose money on printing and mailing costs), I have quite a bit of
Do you define yourself as a feminist? What do you think about feminism
today? What issues are you concerned with as a woman/feminist?
IG: Both Geisa and I have been feminists for quite a long time
now not only because our country is extremely sexist but also because
we are concerned about the situation societies of today's societies
put women into (not only womyn though). Feminism today is just as important
as it ever was, as opposed to some people who claim it isn't necessary
'anymore'. It seems obvious that sexism and machismo have never been
extinguished but have taken other forms instead, concerning issues of
the modern world for example. We women still have to fit into stupid
aesthetic standards, we still earn lower wages, we still have sexist
husbands beating the hell out of their wives, our naked body parts are
still a weapon for advertising companies, we still don't have total
freedom over our own wombs etc. etc. etc. The issues part is a little
more complicated to talk about because there are so many womyn's issues
which I feel touched by, so the list would be endless. But I guess the
issues that touch me more, which make me more mad are the ones from
daily life as a woman in Brazil, basically not having freedom over our
female body, not having freedom to dress the way we want (it's a tropical
country but it seems most men think we wear mini skirts and sleeveless
shirts because of them (?) or something, because no matter if we're
thin or fat or black or white or Japanese, we always get teased in the
streets). Also being female in an enterprise company is like much of
your success is depending if you're always thin and looking 'ok' and
if you don't get pregnant etc. Not to mention life for the lower class
womyn. Incest is something that happens an awful lot, dads raping their
daughters and having her kids live in the same house and stuff like
that... Religion is overwhelming overpowering as well, so it's like
domino effect... It seems natural that I should be feminist under the
conditions I live everyday. I guess for women everywhere it goes this
way too... Sexism is always there, no matter what form it uses, and
we must pay more attention.
AS: I am a feminist. I love saying it. A lot of strong women
I know don't like to use the word. They think it has negative connotations.
I believe the feminist movement is not perfect, but I think the purpose
of it is extremely important. Women still aren't treated equally. Women
are still viewed as subordinate to men. Similarly, whites still have
more power than people of color. Rich people have more power than poor
people. All issues of inequality are important topics in the feminist
Could you please describe a little bit the grrrl zine community in your
IG: The fanzine production began over here around the late 70s,
and the first women-made publications came out in the mid 80s but normally
they had help from men in the editing and stuff like that. So I can't
really tell when ALL GIRL zines started to come out, but I can say that
since the Riot Grrrl movement established some roots around here in
1997, girl zines started popping up wildly here and there and it was
just amazing, and still is, but the difference is that today girls seem
to be more daring. It's not just about being indie or punk rock or hardcore
or emo or artsy whatever - girls are starting to talk about art and
politics so I have to say the quality is tending to increase. Violent
Playground, Água, Magazine, Grrrls Voices, Gumption, Vertigem,
Garatuja... the names are countless. I would even dare to say that there
are just as many female editors as there are male ones, and girls seem
to have so-o-o much to say as there are always new zines on the stands.
Thumbs up to them as they managed to pave their way in such a culture-lacking
AS: Although grrrl zine makers are underground ladies, the movement
is popular in the United States. I would guess that there are hundreds
if not thousands of grrrl-related zines being made in the United States.
Although it's hard to document all the small-press grrrl zines in the
U.S., they make an important impact upon the readers in small communities
of readers. There are also a significant amount of small zine distributors
that do a great job of sending zines to readers around the country.
Do you want to add something?
IG: The only thing I got to say for now is that the more women
get involved in art productions (zine is one), the more they'll know
themselves. And that's our main weapon.
AS: I just want to add that a lot of people ask me why I publish
a zine, and they sometimes don't understand why I put so much time,
energy, and money loss into it. Basically, Venus is my life. It's a
huge part of my identity, and I can't imagine not doing it.