Basically, Spin, Rolling Stone, Details and other ridiculously dumb glossy magazines have nothing to offer you but anorexic-model-strewn advertisements and articles where Hootie & the Blowfish get to sound off on world affairs. Instead, why not check out the underground press, which has whole worlds to reveal, scenes that neither you nor I nor anyone outside of Juneau, Alaska, has ever heard about, and, more important, opinions and perspectives that aren't welcome in mainstream publications. Zine editors may send you a personal letter, while Spin will surely send you those subscription cards that fall out of the magazine and cause trauma for all. You probably won't find most of these zines at your local newsstand. To receive them, put a stamp on an envelope, send a note and a few concealed dollars (no checks). The zines listed below cover various music scenes and are your classic punk zines, or are written by people who just go off about whatever interests or bugs them.
Creatum Sinistra Joi is seriously obsessed with Glenn Danzig, whom Joi calls her “supreme violent master.” Issue No. 1 includes an imagined abduction and torture by Danzig that is as hardcore as anything De Sade ever wrote. In No. 2, Joi and her friend Kris, who's obsessed with They Might Be Giants, have a competition to see who can meet up with his or her obsession first. No response from They Might Be Giants, but Joi does meet Danzig a couple of times, touches his arm, and gets him to sign her diary and breast. No. 2 also includes “The Full-Frontal Hall of Fame,” a photo tribute to American guys in feature films who have had the guts to bare all, plus Joi's explicit diary excerpts about how she wants to do her dentist. (175 Fifth Ave., Suite 2136, New York, NY 10010. No. 1 is $2.50, No. 2 is $3.)
Profane Existence (Making Punk a Threat Again) With excellent coverage of what's happening in the former Yugoslavian republics, Germany, England or wherever there are large concentrations of pissed-off, Molotov-cocktail-chucking punks, Profane Existence is a fantastic, inspiring anarchist periodical that aims to bury the corporate empire and the governments that help them ransack the globe. They also do interviews, send out a mail-order catalog, and have a record label featuring all your favorite foul-smelling grindcore and anarcho-punk bands. (P.O. Box 8722, Minneapolis, MN 55408. $2.)
The Probe Naked babes and punk rock are Aaron Muentz's two most favorite things, but what makes his zine so awesome, besides all the women he gets to pose naked for him, is Muentz's embarrassingly candid writing, in which he reveals himself to be an alcoholic whose trademark is breaking down the doors of girls who've dumped him. Far from being just another sexist chump, Muentz is a troubled, extremely drunken romantic who writes intimately about his love life and reviews girls he's had sex with, usually with their permission. He also falls on his face repeatedly, which he details in the same straightforward style. Not your typical punkzine editor, Muentz is a trucker and former metal dude who digs football. The Hickey and Schlong interviews in No. 5 are hilarious, while the live reviews are mostly tales of drunken debauchery. No. 5's story about Muentz getting gay-bashed in Reno is particularly gnarly. (Probe Records, P.O. Box 5068, Pleasanton, CA 94566. $4.)
Rollerderby Formerly well-known as performance artist Lisa Suckdog, who made her name pissing on people and pulling other G.G. Allin-like stunts, Lisa Carver has put out 21 issues of her zine, and two books. Rollerderby is loaded with kinky sex, and Carver gets the best letters. She's also a great interviewer and has talked with the likes of Cop Shoot Cop, Combustible Edison, Eye Yamatsuka, Liz Phair and Kathleen Hanna. This zine delves deeply into incest, aerobics, kissing, soap operas and mail-order brides like no other publication. (P.O. Box 474, Dover, NH 03821. $3.)
Lounge A local zine you can pick up free in stores around town, Lounge should be accompanied by a stiff martini, a pipe and a willing, long-legged blond. Not all schmaltz, Lounge inebriates you with the stuff you expect – articles on Dean Martin, Louis Prima, Arthur Lyman and Audrey Hepburn – and everything you may or may not want to know about fezzes, Moogs and theremins. There's also a “Dive Bar of the Month” column that should be useful to swingers with no dough, plus lounge-scene reports from London, New York and Berlin for gallivanting international spies. (3010 Wilshire Blvd., No. 92, Los Angeles, CA 90010. $3.95.)
Scam is one of the most inspiring things I've ever read and definitely my favorite zine. Scam regales with the adventures of Iggy Scam, who train-hops, hitchhikes, table-dives and squats his way across Florida. It's thrilling stuff, written in a witty style that's more Voltaire than Kerouac. Iggy gets deep into Florida's history and present-day culture in No. 3, the “Sledgehammers to the Streets” issue, with articles like “The Abandoned Malls of Broward County,” “The Official Scam Punk's Guide to the Miami Metrorail,” “Florida and Smugglers” and “Overtown Jazz.” He also scams a free trip to Europe in “Sprechenze Scam?” If Scam One doesn't inspire you to seize the day and live a more exhilarating life, read it again. (Available from Recess Records, P.O. Box 1112, Torrance, CA 90505. $2. All proceeds benefit Iggy's upcoming trip to Cuba.)
Browbeat This beautifully designed zine comes out every eon or so and describes itself as a zine devoted to dissonance. In No. 2 there's a conversation between John Zorn and Ennio Morricone, a feature on Lou Reed and his classic Metal Machine Music, interviews with the Dog Faced Hermans and Diamanda Galas, and a column directing you to bizarre spots in San Francisco. No. 1 has excellent interviews with Lily Braindrop of Taste of Latex zine and with Japanoise bands the Boredoms and the Ruins, as well as a guide to all the neat stuff in Golden Gate Park. (P.O. Box 11124, Oakland, CA 94611-1124. $4.)
I'm Johnny and I Don't Give a Fuck Andy's tales in his zine are so wild that he invites you to write his mom if you don't believe they're true, and he includes her address. No. 2 features a humorous story about when Andy and friends bumped into Johnny Depp, and he told them he didn't like being a celebrity and would rather be like them. They explain that “being drunken punks on welfare bumming smokes in the rain” is easy – all he has to do is quit his job. Then Depp offers Andy 200 bucks for his hat and things get crazy. No. 2 also has two really sad stories, one about Andy as a preschooler being kidnapped by his father and not seeing his mom and brother for years, and another from Andy's girlfriend Jennie, about how she flew to England and was refused entry into the country. (P.O. Box 21533-1850, Commercial Dr., Vancouver, B.C. V5N 4AO Canada. $2.)
Book Your Own Fuckin' Life This do-it-yourself resource guide is thrown together by a different group of volunteers every year, and if you're a band trying to book your own tour, it's essential. There are extensive listings of bands, labels, venues, record stores, zines, crash pads, cheap vegetarian restaurants, health clinics and unlocked dumpsters. (Under the Volcano, P.O. Box 236, Neconset, NY 11767. $4.)
Tales of Blarg Janelle's zine is distinguished by her always amusing fantasies and tribulations. In No. 7 she moves into the “House of Jank,” which she thought would be her dream home but turned into a “Hooverville of houseguests who wouldn't leave,” crawling with rats and a landlord resembling Yoda who'd barge in at all hours. No. 7 also includes a Bay Area scene report; “The Crusty Haiku Convention”; an interview with a phone psychic; and stories about Janelle's bad dates and how she got hepatitis. (P.O. Box 4047, Berkeley, CA 94704. $2.)
I do my own zine, Shithappy, which has clowns running amuck at the Academy Awards and in downtown office buildings, an extensive guide to L.A., reports on my trips to Israel and Europe, a moronic story called “Some Guy Named Bazoo,” comics, rants, anarchy, sex and some other junk. (11338 Joffre St., Los Angeles, CA 90049. $2.)
Among the places in L.A. that sell zines are the Velveteen Robot Bad Book Boutique, KOMA Books, Skylight Books, No Life Records, Destroy All Music, Headline Records and A Different Light Bookstore. You can also find huge listings of zines in Factsheet Five, Alternative Press Review and Zine World. And if you've got something to say yourself, why not do your own zine?