Tag Archives: zines

Not Hiding Behind Her Skirt: An Interview with Aurora Lady

I first encountered the work of Aurora Lady, an LA-based artist, illustrator and writer, when I read her zine Don’t Hide Behind Your Skirt, a powerful, personal work on her close bond with her mother and her story of surviving family violence. In the zine she shares how she came into her own power through art, music, feminism and forging intense bonds of friendship. After I read it I had to know her better. Who was this brave and creative woman? We met up for the first time the day before the LA Zine Fest in 2014 at a copy shop in Pasadena and spent our morning frantically gluesticking together flats and folding our copies before the fest. In Aurora I found the tradition of intense relationships and understanding I forged in the late 1990s with other girl zinesters continued. Perched on stools in the quiet copy shop, I felt we were in a secret girl gang, preparing our manifestos to let them loose on the world.

The next time I caught up with Aurora she was bedazzling a pink boombox to use in a photoshoot in preparation for the launch of her t-shirt line which features her illustrated, bold, sassy and very serious feminist messages. Aurora doesn’t just create beautiful t-shirts, she creates worlds filled with diverse, glamorous girl gangs and gauzy, glitter filled sleepovers. In her world these are places where blanket forts are built, secrets are spilled between best girlfriends, sisterhood is strengthened, and revolutionary dreams are put into motion. Her lookbooks and styling are impeccable.

Her attention to detail, emotion and subtlety, as well as her embrace of all the DIY, witchy, punk weirdness that is Los Angeles, all contributes to the power and pleasure of Aurora’s art. Through her work Aurora understands how the exhilarating, strange, and too often dark world of girlhood can become a powerful source for connection, love, creativity and feminist solidarity. I caught up with her over email in order to know more about the process and inspirations that drive her feminist world making.

Eleanor Whitney: Your work has a very specific aesthetic – tell me about your influences and inspiration. How did you form this vision of a tough, beautiful, feminist dream world that is so present in your work?

Aurora Lady: I came of age in the 90’s, and I never really let that go. Courtney Love was a huge gateway for me— she lead the way to a million other influences. Her story, her music, and her look were a prime example of how a vision can completely crystallize and work on a million different levels. I can recognize that now in different ways and apply it to my own work. Courtney’s look  was so overt that I was able to wrap my junior high mind around it and really sink into it. I’m still low-key obsessed with her. I check in every few years to see who she’s working with, who she’s referencing.

My other influences came through my experiences with my friends and my family. Most of my friends growing up were my pen pals. Because of this  idea of written communication in letters and zines and mix tapes as “feeling interpretations” really resonates with me still. I still feel like music is this grand gift we can give to ourselves or our friends to help grow and heal. I had the benefit of being raised by my mother, who had a tough life but acted gently and thoughtfully while getting shit done. My family moved around a lot as I grew up, and I learned how to acknowledge and adapt and just soak things in. Mostly, I just aim to be honest about what I’m feeling and what’s guiding me. If something makes me uncomfortable or is painful, then I know I need to work deeper in that direction.

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Filed under Art + Comics, Clothes + Fashion, Interviews

Best of 2015: Top 10 Feminist Zines, Chapbooks & Blogs

In no particular order:


  1. Tinkypuss: my favorite local feminist fashion line has its own zine! With writing from Athens’ feminists on music, identity, music, poetry, and more, this dreamy zine makes me feel warm and fuzzy about my (relatively new) hometown.

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Rah! Rah! Roundup


Sandra Bland. Sandra Bland. Sandra Bland. #WhathappenedtoSandraBland
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ALL THE FEMINIST BOOKS: A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over the World edited by Karen Green and Tristan Taormino

We asked our regular contributors to write about the feminist books that they love—books that struck a chord, for one reason or another, books they couldn’t put down, that they’ll never donate, that are underlined and dog-eared and bookmarked eternally, that you can maybe borrow, but you most definitely have to give back. Here’s Cathy on A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over the World:

photo-181A feminist book that really affected me is A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over the World edited by Karen Green and Tristan Taormino, which came out in 1997, when I was 16. I lucked out by stumbling upon the book—an almost encyclopedia of riot grrrl zines—in my local Half Price Books in San Antonio, Texas. (The same bookstore also had a surplus of Kathy Acker books I would later find and then have my feminist literary world forever altered in the best possible way.) In 1997, riot grrrl zines were not new to me, but this book made zines and their authors the most accessible they had ever been, and made them seem legitimized in this funny way—here they were in a book I could buy at the store and check out from the library: “See mom and dad, the stuff that my pen-pals write IS getting taken seriously.” At the time, I was defending zine culture to my parents, who were worried I was getting brainwashed by queer punk feminist liberals (little did they know I was basically born a queer punk feminist liberal). I did not flaunt the book to my parents, who actually would have been scandalized by some of its confessionally honest contents, but I knew if they confiscated it like they did some of my zines, I could just go check it out from the library and start reading all over again.

Riot grrrl zines changed my life, and I am still so glad this book collects many of the zines I was already reading and many that I had never heard of. A Girl’s Guide is organized by themes (e.g., Chapter 1: “friends secrets sex,” and Chapter 2: “body image health”) and features excerpts from zines such as Tammy Rae Carland’s I <3 Amy Carter, Witknee’s Alien, Lisa Crystal Carver‘s Rollerderby and many more. It begins with an introduction by Ann Magnuson and ends with addresses and prices for all the zines featured inside. If only all of those zines were still being made and I could send $1 and a few stamps to those addresses. If only.

To this day, my own writing and performance are greatly influenced by the raw and confessional voices that epitomized so many of the zines I used to read. I have always been fairly shy, and they encouraged me to just finally say what I needed to say. I appreciate both the urgency and permanence of so many zines in A Girl’s Guide. They were not Facebook statuses you could go back and delete, but at the same time they were often limited edition. Riot grrrl zines didn’t just teach me about feminism; they taught me about friendship and keeping in touch. I am forever grateful that being a feminist and being a good friend are rooted in the same place.


Filed under Books + Literature, Everything Else