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blackjack&nutten:
"Stereotyping- out, pop culture- in!"

An interview with
Sam
from: Leipzig, Germany

by Sonja Eismann, Haydeé Jiménez & Elke Zobl


January 2008

 

"
I'm gonna make my own fanzine!”

-Sam


 


Sam

Can you tell me a little bit about your personal (age, place of birth and residence etc.) and educational background?
Hello! My name is Sam (as in Samantha). I am 22 years old, grew up in south germany in the middle of nowhere and moved to Leipzig 3 ½ years ago for studying. I am going to finish my geeky computer science course in a few weeks... yay!

What are you currently doing, or involved in, besides your zines?
Pretending to be a busy student, making people happy with websites, trying to be involved in other things I call „pop culture” (music fairs, other fanzines...), planning my future (most of the time...)

Can you tell our readers about your zine/distro? How many people are involved in it?
My zine is called „blackjack&nutten” (okay please DON'T hit me: „blackjack&hookers”) - it's a quote from Futurama when I was fed up with the last fanzine I was working at and said „I'm gonna go make my own fanzine!” (With blackjack! And hookers!). Basically, it's just me and two friends and lots of other people I'm begging to write something...

What topics do you discuss in your zines most often? What language are they written in?
Well.. the basic topic is „pop culture” and everything around it... Lots of music, things we've noticed, some politics, everyday life, concerts, art, films, tv shows, design, bitching, moaning, complaining, adoring...and we have a quiz or crosswords in every issue!

Since most writers are German, the stories are in German. But we've also had an English article and some bits of an English interview – i don't see a way of translating it without changing or losing some of the original meaning.


How long have these zines been running?
Sigh. 3 issues so far since december 2006. Working on the 4 th (in my mind...) - I got no money, but I got the soul...

Where/how are your zines distributed? Who are your readers?

Distribution works like that: Copy shop, stapling, spraying the logo (then: cleaning the kitchen floor with nailpolish remover), envelopes, post office – friends in Germany get zine, put it in bars, cafés, clubs, record shops, people find it (hopefully) and pick it up – for free! Result: People happy (hopefully), I broke. I should work on the last point.

What kind of responses do you get from your zines’ audience?
So far...not many, but only really nice comments. Some contact us via myspace (I know...I know...), some write e-mails, some even offer their help and want to be involved. To be honest, I'm quite surprised, I thought people would start throwing dirt at me whenever I leave the house...

How did you become introduced to the culture of zines?
I started early in school by becoming editor of our school paper, had an online fanzine (back in 2002 when no one else did! Well, some...maybe...) with a friend called exitmusic, moved on to the „magma” fanzine (R.I.P.) and then came to say „I'm gonna make my own fanzine!” moment. In some way talking (a LOT) about and discussing music and pop culture in general has always been a part of my life and I just wanted to write it down, in case anyone else might be interested...

What do you hope to accomplish by making and distributing your zine?
First of all, it's not only for the readers, but for the writers who get the chance to publish their stuff on real paper, not only online or as a tiny little album review in the back of a magazine. Secondly, I'm trying to make people question this whole „pop culture” thing everyone is so sure of, add some critical views and, not least, needle them (this explains the provocative title...).


b&n Issue 1
What do you love and find challenging about zine making?
There are so many beautiful moments when making a zine! Reading an article someone sent me (and discover how talented some people are!), realising that we have enough texts and images to fill the pages, nice labelpeople paying for adverts in the mag, seeing the layout for the first time, stapling and spraying the first issue and celebrating this with my flatmate, watching people in a club or bar finding the zine and reading it and showing it to their friends... It's worth all the time and work and nerves and brain cells I put in this project. I think the biggest challenge is not giving up, since every time we are making a new issue it seems just impossible to ever finish it!

Which role does the Internet play for you?
Blackjack&nutten is paper paper paper! I love paper! Internet is just for communication, staying in contact with „our readers”, putting some information on our blog (blackjackundnutten.blogsport.de) that will be outdated...

Please name some of your favorite zines and the reasons why you like them.
Well.. to be honest, I don't read many zines... only the ones that are made by people I know. I always plan on ordering other zines but forget about it pretty soon...

I like the „Hommage” zine (lovely Katja from Vienna) – it's basically just people writing about the things (music, bands, people, films, tv series...) they adore, that's wonderful!

„Nur Ton” (made by Jule from Berlin) has the basic guideline to only write about music, but I rather like the layout and the sewed pages. Handmade!

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a zine?
Firstly (and sadly): If you are going for print, make sure you know how to fund it. Printing costs are quite high if you want more than just a handful of zines. And since the music industry won't stop moaning, it's difficult to get enough adverts. Secondly: Find someone to help you with either layout or adverts (if you want some) or collecting and correcting stories. Doing everything yourself can be a pain in the ass (but might be some good practise for your future job as a top manager?). Thirdly: Don't EVER expect people (or yourself) to keep to any deadlines.

Do you feel part of a (grrrl or general) zine community or network and what does it mean to you? What is the zine scene like in your community?
Since I don't read many other zines I don't feel really involved in anything else... I just stay in touch with people I know anyway that happen to be fanziners. But especially here in Leipzig almost everyone „does” something, concerts, record shops, djing, fanzines, so I consider myself part of this „active” scene. We try to support each other, like putting logos on concert posters and advertising the concert in the zine...

Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I don't like the word „feminist”. To me, it has some slightly annoying touch, as if I were always trying to convince people of something... But I'm fully aware of the still completely uneven situation of women today and I'm definitely trying to push people off their „It's 2008, women and men are equal, everything is fine and there's no need to discuss it anymore” views, because that's just not true. So... maybe that's what you would call a feminist. But my ass is too lazy to actually DO something other than writing about it.

What do you think about feminism today? How would you explain what feminism is to someone who has no idea what it is?
First of all, I'm always criticising, even the things I'm involved in. I think the major problem is that many people regard this topic „gender equality” as outdated and unfashionable, because it's been discussed so often and all problems have already been solved – which is bullshit. Women and girls are still pushed (and pushing themselves!) into stereotypes like „strong manager/leader”, „sensitive artist”, „sexy front singer”, „riot grrl” „indie girl that likes swedish pop music and skinny jeans”, „boyish lesbian” and whatever... it really bothers me that a woman can't just be a PERSON with some „special features”. I love being a computer geek that's interested in artsy guitar music, likes techno clubs, art galleries, getting wasted and behaving like a twat, webdesign, math, cheesy radio pop, Goethe, fanzines and Family guy. Please, find a (female) stereotype for that. What I'm trying to say is that many women just do what society expects them to do because everything else would be considered „irregular” - maybe we have „equal opportunities” by law, but in our minds we're still not as free as most men.

To me, feminism means trying to strip ourselves free of all gender related stereotypes and get the same possibilities for everyone, because we ARE in fact equal if you ignore the physical differences of human bodies. But that is just my definition, I'm sure many people would disagree with me about this point.


b&n


What would a “grrrl”-friendly society look like in your view? How do you think society might be re-envisioned and transformed tin order to become an “ideal” world for women, grrrls and queer folks? Do you have any suggestions for the development of women/grrrl/queer-friendly policies?
See 17... Just one last thing, I don't like the word „grrrl” either. It's like... I'd rather be a normalwoman (or girl...) that's standing up for women's rights than a „grrrl” who is not allowed to have a zine called „blackjack&hookers” because that's not pc (hey, I had a MAN bashing me for that!). I see so many people around me thinking in stereotypes (for women, men or groups of people), that makes me sick.

What are some of your personal wishes/visions/ideas/plans for the future, if you like to share them?
I'd love to have some more issues of my zine, of course, with more interesting stories... and enough adverts to fund it (or massive discount at the copy shop!)... basically, bring it into a „steady” state. Manage my move to England without a nervous breakdown. Travel a lot. Finish my study. Travel some more. Have many different jobs. Eventually become leader of the world.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Quoting Britney Spears: Why don't you do something?


 


info:


mail.sam [AT] gmx.de
e-mail

http://blackjackundnutten.blogsport.de/
blog

 


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