Interview with a Zinester: Alex Hays!

Alex Hays of Sleeping Creature Distro is up next!

Photo of short-haired Alex wearing glasses and a straw-colored cardigan.
Photo of short-haired Alex wearing glasses and a straw-colored cardigan.

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

I write a zine called Alex, a perzine that’s loosely themed around gender identity. I also started up a small distro called Sleeping Creatures. I wish I could say I have a huge collection, but in reality, I’m building it really slowly. I guess I’m part of the Slow Zine Movement.

How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone?

I started writing zines way back in high school! I moved to a new school in 11th grade, and when making new friends joined a zine-making crowd. I loooooved making zines, and still credit the experience with introducing me to writing outside academic regurgitation, and also with helping me find my voice. I learned so much about myself through writing zines; I could explore my own thoughts and opinions, and also mess around with collage-making and craft. It was also amazingly empowering to trade zines at shows and meet penpals from around the country. To think my little zine had traveled so far… it was really confidence building.
What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?

When I read Alison Piepmeier’s book I was really struck by her definition of zine-making as practicing third-wave feminism. “Grrrl zines are coterminous with the third wave; grrrl zines and third wave feminism respond to the same world. Beyond sharing a historical moment with the third wave, grrrl zines are often the mechanism that third wave feminists use to articulate theory and create community.” (from the introduction to Girl Zines) It kind of blew my mind to read that because while I always saw my zines as feminist (because I wrote them, whether I explicitly engaged with feminist theory or not), I didn’t realize that zines played such a huge part in transmitting the message in the nineties, which is the time period she’s talking about. Actually it seems to me that Piepmeier is also saying that the message happened on the page—that it was being created and transmitted through the same vehicle. It’s pretty cool!

On QZAP’s collection policy statement page they talk about collecting queer zines that don’t address queer issues, that simply being queer makes your zine queer, an idea I agree with. And so it would be hard for me to sit down and parse out what makes my zines feminist, where do I say something that directly aligns with feminist ideology, because my whole framework is imbued with feminism. I guess I think it’s always there, in the same way I think that everything I do is queer.
What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?

I love a lot of zines. I have a thing for perzines that are honest, raw, and artsy. I like it when something’s happening on the page, visually. I’m into Pinch Kid at the moment, and picked up Volthair last year, a zine that excited me. Oh, and recently I’ve been reading “How to Sleep,” a zine so quirky and weird I totally love it.

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

This question really makes me laugh in the context of a feminist zine fest. Was that on purpose? Ok so here’s my answer: recently my relationship exploded, and somehow I insisted she should take the coffee grinder and I should get myself a new one. I don’t know why; I made a lot of weird decisions around that time. But burr grinders were too expensive so I bought a cheaper burr grinder where you grind the beans by hand. It seemed cool and I imagined it being like, “yeah, I milk my own cows” or some other DIY fantasy, but in fact it’s the worst thing ever. I wake up crazed and suffering from caffeine withdrawal and I have to sit there and HAND GRIND the beans for the love of god. Basically I think I answered the question, “what’s your most impractical kitchen appliance” but things that are difficult and impractical is a little like my zine-making process in a nutshell.

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

OMG everyone.


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