grrrl zine network about rsources writing messge board contact


Zines, handmade crafts and more!
Pisces Catalog
rocks

An interview with Kerith

by Elke Zobl

September 2002


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 Kerith and I am a 28 year-old Black Indian Russian Romanian Jew native to California. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I now live in the West Hollywood section of Los Angeles with my boyfriend of 12 years.


What do you do besides your zine?

I also run two small businesses: Pisces Catalog (PiscesCatalog.com), a mailorder catalog dedicated to the art of DIY featuring handmade clothing, crafts, cloth menstrual pads, novelties, zines and more. Pisces Soap (PiscesSoap.com), a boutique-based handcrafted soap company trying to take the dull out of bathing and excited to add a little art to every day chores.


For how long have you been running your zine and distro now? How many issues did you put out until now? Are you the only editor or is there a team?
I have been publishing my zine, Pisces and my distro Pisces Catalog since the spring of 1996. Pisces Zine currently has 13 issues (what is that, like 2 issues a year?!). I guess I like to take my time putting each one out. I am the only one running Pisces but sometimes I like to include writing from my friends.


What made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name?
I have been zeening since I was about 9. Only I didn't know that my xeroxed newsletters were called "zines" and part of a whole "community". I stopped doing my newsletter (called "Cool Magazine") when I was about 13 years old. At around age 20, I started getting into writing again and hanging out at coffee houses. I picked up a copy of my first zine there. Finding that zine was like opening up a portal to a whole new life. It was amazing to find people out there who were into what *I* was into. A definite life-altering experience.

At the time, I was selling my handmade crafts at flea markets and garage sales. I didn't have any company cards or things of that nature, but decided that if I ever did my "company" would be called "Pisces". I tried to find a name that would stick with me forever, regardless of my change in trends over the years. I am a Pisces, I have always found astrology fascinating and it seems to fit my creative personality.


What topics are most often discussed in your zine or in the zines you carry?
I seem to be swayed towards zines that I can relate to. Mostly by women and usually including pieces on race, sexual abuse, and just pure honesty.


What do you hope to accomplish by establishing your zine and your zine distro?

I didn't set out with any goals when I started my projects.I just hope to have the opportunity to continue to connect with other individuals. It is those human connections that continue to inspire me.


What does zine making, distributing and reading mean to you? What do you love about zine making and distributing? What's the most challenging aspect of making and distributing zines?
This is a hard set of questions to answer because I am kind of in a "zine rut" phase. I have been doing this for a long time and have gotten an overload on zines. I didn't think that this was possible nor did I expect it to happen to me. But when you virtually spend 24-7 with zines, I guess it is bound to happen eventually.

I am taking a break from zines for that reason. I love them to death and I never want that to change.


What was your first exposure to zines? How did you find out about them? What have they come to mean to you?

My first exposure to zines came with an international pen pal "community" that I was a part of. At one point, I had more than 80 penpals and it became hard to keep up with them all! I decided that if I created a newsletter, I would be able to keep everyone updated without the hand cramps one gets when writing 80 letters!

Years later, I came across some real zines and discovered that what I did had a name and a whole community attached.




Do you consider grrrl zines as an important part of a movement of sorts? Do you think zines can effect meaningful social and political change?
I think anything that has enough heart attached can make changes. At the same time, I think in order for zines to make an effective change in our culture, they must become more mainstream and accessible. Which may also mean that they may lose their "flavor" by seeping up through the underground.


What does the zine community mean to you?
I am not quite sure anymore. At times I feel the love of this great community and other times I feel very disloyal. Part of my problem is that I feel that not enough new people coming into the scene are interested in how the scene even developed or what great change certain individuals have made in the past 10 years.

I see incredible zinesters out there who do not get the recognition I feel they deserve. One being Ericka Bailie (Pander Zine Distro) and the other, Lynne Lowe (Santa Barbara Zine Fest).

I feel that Ericka revolutionized the whole idea of a zine distro. I think that almost every distro who came out afterwards is implementing some part of her ideas...uncredited of course. The postage chart, fast speedy service, the cream of the crop in zines...even the fonts she uses in her paper catalog and her website style has been copied by many in the scene. I feel that these are the kinds of things that should be recognized and she should be praised a lot more than she is.

Lynne Lowe has done a fantastic job of being one of the only females who consistently puts out zine fest year after year. It is completely difficult to not only run a fest, but run it by yourself with your own funds. Zine fests in other cities (Portland, Boston etc.) get a lot more exposure and I find that unsettling.

As a community, I don't think we take enough time out to give people the credit and recognition they truly deserve.


What advice would you give others who want to start a zine or a zine distro?

Speak from your heart when writing a zine. I am growing tired of zines that seem to mimic all the ones that came before them. When starting a zine, through all of the "rules" out the window and create your own. You will be more respected for it later on. And you will no doubt stand out among the rest.

As far as starting a zine distro goes, make sure you have the time to do one. Time is EXTREMELY important! Take it from a girl who has been doing this for more than 6 years! You will also need enough money to buy stock and to pay zinesters and craftsters. Not to mention postage, envelopes etc.

And make sure you want to start a distro because you TRULY want to help other people's projects get out there. Not because you think that running a distro will bring you instant popularity.

You should always start something that you truly love with the best of intentions.

What are some of the zines you admire?
This is a tough one. There are so many!! Okay, I will name zine writers instead of zines.

Bianca Ortiz - She writes amazingly fierce zines on race in this country. Her style is so direct, never the type to beat around the bush. http://www.messtiza.com

Amy Esche - her writing and drawings are hauntingly beautiful. A major talent. http://www.inri.net/pinn

Marla DiCarlo- A wonderful writer with a ton of heart and compassion.

Bumble - A crazy amazing writer whose smut and erotica zines are well worth reading. http://www.myownbrain.com

Skuld The Hag Rag - She has this magical, witch-like, earthy style that comes across so down-to-earth. http://www.hagrag.bigstep.com

Kelli Callis - Funny, sarcastic and brilliant. http://www.thepilowproblem.com

Tasha Hairston - Finally, someone out there who knows what I have been through. http://cuntabulous.com/

Lauren Michelle - She has this dreamy style of writing that makes you believe
hat all things are possible.

Nidhi Chanani - Although she hasn't written a zine in years, I feel she is someone to watch for in the future. It is inspiring to watch her grow as a writer.

Do you define yourself as a feminist? What are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as a woman/feminist)?
As a woman of color, I prefer to call myself a Womanist instead of "feminist". A term coined by Alice Walker in her book "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens". With the notion that feminist movement began with the daughters, wives and sisters of men in power, womanism includes the women whose relatives were not in a power position and it includes finding equality for men of color as well.

It is hard to dissect what I am confronted with on a daily basis and what I puposely confront myself. Part of being involved with the feminist movement is blurring the lines between what we are and what we need to do to be effective in the movement.

 

Which role plays the Internet for you? Does it change your ideas of making zines and doing/reading zines?
The internet has been an amazing help in getting my projects out there. My orders have quadrupled and the instant communication between other zinesters is a dream come true.

The internet has helped me to believe that the world is indeed very very small. And that expression through zines can make a faster impact than before.

Pisces Catalog
piscescatalog [AT]aol.com


p: (310) 770-4764
f: (323) 655-6930

Beverly Hills
California, 90211
USA


http://www.piscescatalog.com/



All images are taken from the Pisces Catalog web site with Kerith's permission.
Copyright 2002 Pisces Catalog


BACK TO INTERVIEWS