Spreading the word
The concept of 1234V was born out of a desire to share the beloved task of writing, editing, and production of a genuine artifact between two friends. While zines and zine-making have been part of our collective cultural landscape, and are objects we’ve both enjoyed reading and collecting over the years, this particular project takes the concept back to its genesis in self-publishing–the democracy of the printed word. The history of zines and fanzines goes back to the early ’30s when science fiction fans were sharing stories among their underground literary community. Though zine-making has gone through many phases and covered many genres, the concept has generally remained the same: sharing stories. 1234V just happens to deliver stories of the womanly nether regions to its readership.
Why female genitalia? A fair question that deserves an answer. As folks with lady parts, we realized a while ago that vaginas and topics related to said body part are a source of endless inspiration. The symbolism, the mystique, the sexuality of the vagina is fascinating and deserves to be written about. The beauty of zines, outside of the more specific fanzines, are their storytelling nature. The ability to write down an experience, however inspiring, hilarious or shameful, and have a reader relate is something special. Although feminism remains an important ideology and movement, stories about things that go into and come out of a woman’s vagina transcend politics and sexual orientation.
Girls talk. A lot. And sometimes we talk about the nitty gritty of what goes on down south. These explicit details of our bodily functions, sexual encounters, and so much more, have caused both women and men to perk up and say, “Me too!” This is an important part of 1234V; we relish the common experiences in the still-taboo world of the vagina.
As word of our “vajournal” started to spread, we found a lot of people eager to write about things that they’d experienced, vaginally speaking. So we accepted submissions, from any gender, that came from a genuine and honest perspective. We asked people to write like their belligerent selves, as if they were at a bar with their friends shouting their exploits out over the DJ for the whole table to hear. And so far, the response has been humbling; we’ve received stories of sad, awkward prepubescent moments… comic strips with a twinkle in their eye… sci-fi that would make a stripper blush… it’s all very delightful.
After the launch of our first issue a couple of years ago, a close male friend approached us and said he had no idea women talked like that. Crass. Free of self-consciousness. Honest. Hearing the stories read out loud, the room erupting in laughter and recoiling in disgust, was a new experience for him. That moment represents part of the experience of this zine. It’s about sharing the stories, in your best storytelling voice, and sharing them with everyone you know.
For us, the creators of this zine, life is very public. We work in radio, publishing, and are both musicians. There aren’t a lot of secrets when it comes to our lives, and it’s something that can bring both happiness, and sometimes embarrassment. But it also makes life less lonely. At a small Christmas party, after telling a woman about 1234V, she shared how she struggled with the change in her vagina after the birth of her children. Her husband shared this adjustment period, and when we invited her to write about it she was more than happy to, especially when we told her that a few other women were talking about writing on this very topic. It’s not that women have never talked about their stretched out labias before; it’s more that putting it down into honest, explicit words, and sharing it with others brings some sort of satisfaction for people. It certainly does for us.