Interview with a Zinester: The Wheelhouse!

The Wheelhouse is up next — we’re getting super close to the fest and we’re excited to meet everyone! Hope you are too 🙂

Two of The Wheelhouse zinesters, Lauren and Aus, posing behind an empty ornate black frame.
Two of The Wheelhouse zinesters, Lauren and Aus, posing behind an empty ornate black frame.

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

Lauren Melissa writes zines about being a queer, fat, intersectional fem(me)inist. Aus Bahadur is a queer, brown, intersectional feminist who tries to make art about survival, mental health, and the encroaching doom that awaits us all. Together they run The Wheelhouse – a Toronto-based supporting resource with an intersectional approach to social justice.

(we are going to tag-team the rest of this interview, like tough lady wrestlers)

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

Lauren: I started attending zine fairs before I got the courage to make one – I think the Toronto Queer Zine Fair was one of my first experiences and I fell in love with all of the awesome art and writing! I actually picked up a zine that had a drawing of Aus in it (this was at the beginning of our clumsy/nerdy courtship and I totally used it as an excuse to send him a message). He’s the one who actually convinced me that I could make my own zines and I debuted the first issue of BigFatFemme at the Philly Feminist Zine Fest in 2014 (by debuted, I mean we spent most of the day at Staples and made it to the fest for the last hour, but whatever, I call it a win!). The night before, our friend Khristina handed me a bone folder and I no idea what it was (now I’m slightly more cool and know what it’s for but still haven’t used one).

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

Aus: In the words of someone far more eloquent (bell hooks), “Individuals who fight for the eradication of sexism, without struggles to end racism or classism undermine their own efforts. Individuals who fight for the eradication of racism or classism, while supporting sexist oppression are helping to maintain the cultural basis of all forms of group oppression.” The art we create challenges not only gender-based oppression but also the racist and classist structures that limit us as individuals and as a community. Our feminism moves beyond a single issue framework because the issues of the marginalized are complex and interwoven.

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

Lauren: I am a big fan of perzines – they hit me right in the feels and make me think deep thoughts. Some of my favourite zines are Motor City Kitty By Brianna Dearest, Tributaries by JC, What to Keep, What to Give Away by Khristina Acosta, Sea Witch by Clementine Morrigan, Radical Domesticity by Emma Karin Eriksson, My Anxiety, My Lover by Joyce Hatton and SO MUCH MORE!

Also, one time I got a zine where the artist (Melanie Gillman) used duct tape to bind it and I fell in love – I’m a big fan of fancy duct tape and now that’s how I finish off my copies of Fat Babes to Make You Smile 🙂

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

Aus: a solid metal, vintage, hand cranked egg beater (like my mom used to have) because it’s practical, reliable, sometimes messy, and stylish as fuck.

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

We’re excited to see all of our zine pals (JC, Sarah Sawyers-Lovett, Emma Karin Eriksson, Joyce Hatton, Nicole Harring, Elvis Wolf) and make a bunch of new ones!!