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I want an emotionalized revolution!
Rock Star With Words

An interview with
Johanna


by Elke Zobl

June
2002


"like all of my writing projects, this is not a story, a zine, or a collection of thoughts...this is a scientific experiment. it is a documentation of myself, my life, my reality, and spefically how my disease (note: Johanna was diagnosed with bipolar) and it's treatment are affecting "me". i'm writing this as raw as the "me" i now can write something, because i want to see if i can still do this. if the"me" i have always known is still the"me" i am now. i want to see if i can still live my concept of rock star with words (or am i a robot?)"

I really like Johanna's zine (and her graphics!) and so I thought I ask her a few questions - and here they come!


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 Johanna and i'm twenty and live in portland oregon. i grew up in
a little hippie town called arcata and next month i'm moving san francisco. i don't really know how to describe myself without getting too in detail or being too pretencious or ending up talking more about who i want to be than who i am..

What do you do besides your zine?
not much lately. i'm always working on fiction projects, and i like to believe i'm kind of a radical escapist, which means i try to turn every experience into performance art in order to make my dull office job life interesting.

For how long have you been running your zine now? How many issues did you put out until now? Are you the only editor or is there a team?
well i'm just now finished with issue 4 of rock star with words, but i did a bunch of other zines before that. only i write for it. no one else.

What made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name?
i am really not into the whole 'music as the ultimate punk rock art' thing, and i want to change it, because i like the idea of being a rock star and i feel like the kind of person i am fits many aspects of the rock star persona, yet you wont see me picking up a guitar anytime soon. i guess what i'm saying is you know how sometimes music is so good it gets under your skin and you cant forget it and it changes your life? i sort of want to do that with my words, and i guess rock star with words is a reflection of that...

What topics are most often discussed in your zine?
well, it's a personal zine, and i am pretty severely manic-depressive/bipolar and deal with it on an everyday basis so that's a huge part of what i write about. but i'm also a very political person by nature, and i kind of want to turn my art, or my writing, into something that makes people think and question, while combining this with living with mental illness. does that make any sense? hmm. i guess i just want to do something different and i want to change people, and i think i have the ability to do that, but i don't know...

What do you hope to accomplish by establishing your zine?
hmm. well i think i answered that in the last question a little, but i want people to put down my zine and think about how they can make their life better, not to sound corny. what i am really into is ultimate honesty and i think people should try to live their lives in a more upfront way, and since thats totally how i am, i hope to inspire people to confront themselves and their friends in emotionally honest ways. i want an emotionalized revolution, man!

What does zine making (and reading) mean to you? What do you love about zine making? What ís the most challenging aspect of making zines?
well, i'm a writer and i've always been a writer and i always will be a writer but right now, at twenty without a lot of experience i dont have the option to go out and publish an award winning novel, so right now zines mean so much to me because this is my opportunity to create something that people will see and appreciate. it's a chance for me to show people who i really am and what i go through. the only challenging thing i think is to stay strong in my objectives, like being honest about things in my life without worrying about the consequences. that can mean a lot of things, though.

What was your first exposure to zines? How did you find out about them? What have they come to mean to you?
this is embarrassing, but i think i found out zines existed in a chat room on aol when i was like fifteen. i cant believe i just admitted that in an interview. how embarrassing...

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 dont really know how many 'grrrl' zines are out there anymore, or what 'grrrl' even means to me anymore, but i think there is a strong community with personal zines among young women. and hell yeah zines can effect meaningful social change, as far as i'm concerned they already have!!!!

What does the zine community mean to you?
i think it's really awesome that we have a community where we can trade our art and writing with our friends and we can not only appreciate what each other have to say, but also offer criticism. i think the zine community can be really amazing in that sense.

 


What advice would you give others who want to start a zine?
i dont really know. i guess dont expect too much in the beginning, because it takes awhile to be recognized, and also, zining is kind of like any other art, you have to work at it before it gets good, so dont expect your first zine to be totally kick ass. it will probably be a disaster, but thats ok.

What are some of the zines you admire?
truckface, renegade's handbook, external text, hope... a lot more.

Could you please describe a little bit the grrrl zine community in your country?
you know, i'm not really sure about the 'grrrl zine community' here. if there is one, im not really involved in it, i guess! so i dont know what to tell ya...


Do you define yourself as a feminist?

yes, i do. but i think it's a little more complicated than that.

What are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as a woman/feminist)?
i guess just the desire to be accepted and appreciated for who i am as a woman and an artist and a person and a radical. and the desire to accept myself. although, there is much more.

Are you active in the feminist movement?
i consider myself a decent feminist but i'm not perfect. i'm not the typical activist, but i do belive that my choices to live my life the way that i want and my writing makes me an active person. but i guess i'm not really that active in my feminist movement, although i definitely try to help educate people, and i think thats the most important thing of all..

What do you think about feminism today? Do you see yourself as part of Third Wave Feminism and what does it mean to you?
someone recently coined the term 'no wave feminism'. i like to identify with that more than third wave. i think there are some really valuable things that feminism has brought to the forefront, but i am also critical about a lot of unjust things that have happened with the feminist label slapped on them. i like feminism and i like what it's made people think about and i like what it's done, but i think feminism means more than just equality for men and women. There's just so much more than that.

Which role plays the Internet for you? Does it change your ideas of making zines and doing/reading zines?
the internet is a pretty weird phenomenon. but i have to go on the favorable side, since it has helped me get my writing out there and meet some other writers like myself. i think people need to remember that the internet is not real life. but for zinesters, the internet is definitely a helpful resource!

Do you have any suggestions? Something you want to add?
uhm, nope! thanks for interviewing me!


Order Johanna's zine either via Pander Zine Distro or write her at:

Rock Star With Words
POB 4702
Portland, OR 97208,
USA

dietsodapopx@hotmail.com

 

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