Interview with a Zinester: Rachel K. Zall!

Rachel K. Zall (but please call her Katie!) brings us this next interview. Check it out!

A person leaning on the wall of a train car wearing a long black dress with blue hat and scarf (great accessorizing!)
A woman leaning on the wall of a train car wearing a long black dress with blue hat and scarf (great accessorizing!)

Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do.

Hi! I’m Rachel K. Zall but do please call me Katie. I’m a poet, performing artist, erotica author and fabulous hat enthusiast. In addition to zines, I’ve published two collections of poetry and just published my first comic book. (Exiles, with Christianne Benedict on art. Hopefully I’ll have copies with me!) As far as the standard list of information regarding axes of oppression goes, I’m white, female, trans, bi, disabled, autistic and somewhat capable of pretending to not be poor. I get very excited about public transit, Doctor Who, jazz and classical music and occasionally repeat long strings of information about them at inappropriate moments. Apologies in advance for when I abruptly recite a list of long-defunct trolley routes or the complete works of Béla Bartók at the fest.
How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone?

I was probably introduced to zines as a teenager, which was longer ago than I’m going to admit to. I was finally convinced to give them a go myself by Sarah Sawyers-Lovett (who’ll be there with her wonderful zine “Safe Home”), who dragged me over to her house with the promise of hamburgers and then tricked me into working for six hours with cut paper and washi tape until I had a zine. Sarah is basically zine mom and lures innocent young women into her lair like that frequently. I also was really inspired by the amazingness of Philly’s Metropolarity crew’s zines (both their collective zines and their individual zines like All That’s Left and A R K D U S T), which I’ve been obsessively reading and sticking into people’s hands shouting “HERE! RADICAL SPECULATIVE FICTION! YOU NEED THIS! TRUST ME!” since I got to Philly. Really, I’ve been influenced by Philadelphia, just in general. There is so much wonderful art happening here it’s hard to imagine how anybody lives here for more than a couple weeks without getting inspired to make something amazing themselves.

What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?

Honestly, I don’t know. I just know that when I read zines when I was younger it was striking to me how much of the interiority of other young women I had never seen expressed before, and sometimes it’s still a shock to open a zine and find an unvarnished, vulnerable, beautiful female voice. I like to hope that someone else will get that when they read my work. (Even if the vulnerability in About My Body (Because You Always Ask) is ever so slightly weaponized. But then, the best public vulnerabilities usually are.)

What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?

I like all kinds of zines! I’ll say my favorite is the aforementioned Metropolarity zine, because I can’t think of another zine that so thoroughly altered how I look at both real and imaginary worlds (and all the worlds in between too!)

If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?

If a dildo tends to stay on the counter long enough without being used anywhere other than the kitchen, does it technically qualify as an appliance?

Finally, who are some of the other zinesters you’re excited to see at this year’s feminist zine fest?

Well, I’m excited that Philly has such a magnificent contingent there (Sarah, Joyce Hatton, Annie Mok, Anna Melton, me). But I already got excited about Philly in an earlier answer, so let’s say that I don’t know who I’m excited to see because the zinester I’m most excited to see is the one I’m not familiar with yet!


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