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It's raining dykes in France!

An interview with Esther aka LOLAGOUINE, editor of Il pleut de goiune
from Toulouse, France

by Elke Zobl

November 2004


Can you tell me first of all a little bit about yourself? How old are you, where are you originally from and where do you reside now?
My name is Esther but i always sign the zines and comics as LOLAGOUINE. I'm from southern Spain, close to the beaches, the sun and so on, but i moved to france on my own when i was 18. Now I'm 25 and i live in an absolutely great city called Toulouse. My name, Lolagouine, reflects this double influence: lola is a very usual name in spanish (it comes from Dolores, which means pains. Women with this name are usually very strong, i think), and from Gouine, which means dyke in french.

What do you do besides your zine?
I'm a very active dyke and feminism militant, so i'm always running from one meeting to another, from actions to concerts, from concerts to parties...sometimes i also run from the police! I love making comics and dancing, playing with my cat and staying at home with my girlfriend!!! Less funny, i'm studying arts. I want to become a graphic designer working for women all around the world.

What is your zine IL PLEUT DE GOUINES about? What topics do you discuss most often? Is it written in English?
"Il pleut de gouines", "It's raining dykes", talks about being a dyke and being a woman and having fun of it. I want to show how strong we are, how pig-headed we are, how messy, how funny, how angry,how powerful and how beautiful we all womyn are. I love the word DYKE and i want to feel it on the zine. So the topics are relate to politics and culture of us dykes, women, queer, cyborgs, transfolk, riots...all articles are written by dykes and i love that. Dyke is an identity: for me it means having the power to do what you dream of!!! In that way, anyone can read the zine and feel stronger. The zine is written in English, French and Spanish. For us (my friends and me, all living in southern france) it's very important to have at last a dyke zine written in french!! Many womyn in France do not have access to any feminist zines!! Spanish is also important for the same reason: it's not easy to get any south american zine. And in English is for you: all the womyn out there.

For how long have you been running your zine now? Are you the only editor or is there a team?
Not a long time. The 1st issued was made in october 2004, and the second will be ready for x-mas. The first one was an essay which worked very well, so i decided to make a greater one. For that i kidnapped my friends and i asked them to make some articles on what they are good at. So, i suppose there is a team but i'm still the only editor. I'd love to have a zine edited by a team but for the moment it's easier this way. (After this second issue they will fall in love with zines, that's my secret plan).

What made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name?
I've got some comics published in lesbian press but i never can laugh at lesbian the way i'd like. I started to make a zine to self-publish the comics that were too non-politically correct for those lesbian papers. I wanted to make a real dyke comic zine, only comics and only dykes to show that in france there is a lack of lesbian comics (there is only one) and that we should use this expression tool. My zine is a reivindication of popular culture made by womyn: riot comics, guerrilla posters, dyke zines, queer films, feminist slam...I think it was raining the day i decided the name;). "It's raining dykes" was the name of the first issue. Afterwards i decided to keep it: i love the idea of looking up the sky and seeing millions of dykes coming to the planet.

 

What was your first exposure to zines? How did you find out about them?
I think the first zines i've seen were on comics when i used to go to the comic shop in my hometown and never had money to get anything "seriously" published. I loved the trashy way in which they were done and dreamt of being able of making one myself. Afterwards i found some political zines about feminism and anarchy (Mujeres Preokupando, how to open a squatt, etc) and i started looking for them in radical feminist events, squatts, festivals and so on. With two friends, we did a small zine on feminism: it was short but it was smart. Nobody ever told me about zines, i just found them and thought "ohh that's great"

What do you hope to accomplish by making and distributing your zine?
First of all i want to make me pleasure, that's important. Then, i want to make pleasure to people around me, that's as important. The way i want to make pleasure is offering a positive, active vision of what it is being an angry dyke today, i want people to think, react and say "hey i'm not alone in this shit".

 

What do you love and find challenging about zine making?
Zines are freedom. There are no limits, no rules, no taboos to respect. Zines are the way of expression that assumes you the way you are: how you express yourself, how you feel, what your interest are. For writing a book you assume the form and the limits of the medium "book", for a zine you do what you want and the zines adapt to you. The difficulty is that you can do so many things that you cannot stop. I love making zines, i feel full of energy, everything needs to be done and plenty of ideas cross my mind at every moment. I want to transmit this energy to people reading it.

What are some of the zines you read and admire?
One of the zines i admire is Mujeres Preokupando, a spanish zine on feminism. This zine is edited every 6 months and every issue is done by a feminist group in a different city in Spain. I love this concept of nomad zine. Another zine that i read regularly is Bang Bang a radical queer zine from switzerland. I like it because it makes worthy to be a radical queer. It's funny and it's plenty of great energy.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a zine?
Do your first one before thinking seriously at it, and only think afterwards for the second issue! Many people think that they are not able of making a zine, that's way it's not worthy too much thinking before doing it. Once it's done, you did it! And only then you may start to think about technical problems, distribution, paper quality or whatever. Some other pieces of advice: choose carefully the layout, talk about what you really like, make what you love and have fun.

Do you feel part of a (grrrl or general) zine community or network and what does it mean to you?
I feel part of a grrrl zine network inside a bigger grrrl community. I think grrrl zines are just one of the phenomena issued from this way of thinking and living that we call "grrrl". Zines are one of the possible way of expression that we have: for me it's easier to express myself through a zine than through a song. I' ve chosen this way of communication as others have chosen music: above all we are grrrls, and only then zinesters or musicians.For me being part of a community, makes me realize that i'm not alone, that many people out there have decided to live in another way and that this way is possible.

 

I am very interested in international grrrl zines. Could you please describe a little bit the grrrl zine community or network in France, or in Europe? Are there others and who are some of the most active participants? Do you think that there is a separate grrrl zine community/network from the larger zine community?
Zines in france are very linked to an artistic activity and there is not much place for political ones. The only people making more militant ones are members of anarchist groups like Maloka (but they don't call themselves zinesters, so...). Hopefully, swiss zine Bang Bang (http://bangbang1969.free.fr/) can be found in some places and there is a new queer zine called Dildo edited in Bordeaux. Some years ago it existed some lesbians zines, and now there are some e-zines like Lolipop. In Spain you can always get MUJERES PREOKUPANDO: the best ever!
I do not think it exists any grrrl zine community in france or in spain, but does it exist a grrrl community in both countries? I'm not sure, i hope is coming. If you want some zines you better move to the Netherlands, Sweden or Italy.

 

Do you consider grrrl and genderqueer zines as an important part of a social movement? Do you think grrrl, lady, queer and transfolk zines, resource sites, and projects can effect meaningful social and political change at large - or do they have significance mainly in individual lives?
Zines are a very important way of expression where all the people that cannot stand this society (and that cannot be stood by it) can at least feel free to be themselves. Zines are easy to make, easy to read ways of communication and sharing. They are cheap, they can be sent anywhere, they are personal but they show a way of life that has been chosen by many people in this world (much more that they want us to know). In this sense i consider zines one of the most meaningful tools for social and political change. One of the characteristics of zines is the desire of independence and freedom. Zines are not submited to any rules, not even capitalist ones!! Zines allow the free exchange of ideas and opinions between people that have decided to adopt this outlaw medium. It is a medium created by us and that no one can control: do you know any other way of expression where censure does not exist? OK, internet, which is probably the closest medium to zines!!! I still find it incredible that the opinions and the handcraft of Trent travel around the globe and arrive at my house in france where my cat decide to use the sheets as a blanket!! This personal, sensitive communication between two people is the begining of a whole social and political change.

What were some of main influences that have empowered you in your life?
That's a difficult question. All the people i have met on the way of not accepting what this society wants us to accept. Some political groups i've worked with (la Barbare in Paris, les Cyprinettes and Clitatak in Toulouse). Comic creators as Alison Bechdel, people making street art, music by nirvana and hole, bikini kill, le tigre, alaska, independent cinema, Ulrike Meinhoff 's letters... and much more...I forgot the most important: all the chapters of a serie i used to watch when i was a child. They were made by people from la movida (alternative cultural movement in post franco spain), very punk, very open-minded, they teach us that children are much more intelligent than adults.

Which role does play the Internet for you?
It saves my life everyday: it's my way of knowing what it's happening all over the globe and of getting in touch with people far from here.

Do you define yourself as a feminist? What are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as a woman/feminist/…)?
I'm a feminist every minute of my life. I'm a dyke proud of it,and i love showing my angry dyke-feminism everywhere. I'm specially angry with children education (i've working with children for a long time), that's where all begin and still we keep on saying to girls not to play foot, not to be violent, or to be a good mother later, to take care of husband and children, to marry marry marry and to not ever do punk music or write zines!!! Of course, issues like homophobia, machisme, racisim angry me everyday. I hate when people assume that i should like boys and people not able to recognize their homophobia. Anyway, everything will be easier if as children we were not constructed the way we are.

 

What do you think about feminism today? Do you see yourself as part of "Third Wave Feminism" and if yes, what does it mean to you? Or, why not?
I live within a very strong feminist community. All my friends are feminist activists, dyke activists, queer activists, so it's not easy to realize that out there feminist is an insult. I think we live in a paradox. No one wants to be called "feminist" but every one agrees with the principles of feminism (i'm not talking about bullshit macho man or woman). Talking about "Third Wave" presumes that feminism stopped existing some day in the past and reemerged in the 90. I know feminists of every age. Feminism never disappeared, it was only ignored and turned into an insult by goverments. Another way of thinking this "Third Wave" is like a movement going further than second wave feminism: not asking for equality but for a radical change of society, not asking for integration but for blowing up the world as we know it. From this point of view: oh yes, i'm a third wave feminist!!!!

What would a grrrl-friendly society look like in your view? How do you think society might be re-thought and transformed to come closer to an "ideal" world for women, grrrls, lesbians and queer folks? Do you have any suggestions for the development of women/grrrl/queer-friendly policies?
Everything needs to be retought and the only policy is to deconstruct this society and reconstruct a new one where discrimination and oppresion are not possible. That's my most-cherished utopia. We shouldn't wait anything from governments, they've got the power and we don't, that's as easy as that. For me the only way of revolution is in the form of a grass-root movement: we are strong because we work as a guerrilla against giants. Everyone should build her ideal society around her and keep on to her beliefs as strongly as possible. Choosing her way of life is already a big revolution.

What are some of your personal wishes/visions/ideas/plans for the future, if you like to share them?
I don't like talking about future because i want to build my present. Future is always too far away and in fact it depends on your present. For my present: i'm not integrated in society, i refuse to work as much as possible, i refuse any capitalist exchange, i boycott labels as coke, nike, nestle, i'm vegetarian, i don't want to be a civil servant, i manifest, i meet activists, i speak of what i think, i assume my own rol of oppressor as member of white-medium class, i read alternantive papers, i live with my girlfriend, etc etc....

Many thanks for the interview!


CONTACT:

Email LOLAGOUINE at

lolagouine [AT] yahoo.fr

 


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