Zine Philosophy

If you love some zine, let it go.

By Amber Goodwyn

I make zines because they excite me. Ever since I was a teen, I’ve been cutting and pasting, tippy-typing and hustling others to contribute to these paper-y labours of love. Holding a new zine in my hands has always been a unique kind of joy. ‘Twas only a matter of time until I’d take that warm, glowing feeling and pervert it by creating a porn zine.

About seven years ago I decided to make Lickety Split smut zine. My teenage radical feminism gelled perfectly with my early-20s sex-positive politic at a time when Nerve.com and a few other sexy projects were newly out of the gates in popular culture — the idea felt Just Right.

Lickety Split smut zine’s first issue took about a year to make and was published in January, 2004. We had a rip-roaring launch party at Montreal’s Sala Rossa (a line-up around the block!) with hip then-new bands like Wolf Parade and Pony Up! on the bill. I was in love with this pervy new zine baby. She was so beautiful, robust and filled with momentum. Lickety Split quickly cemented a solid fan-base and much of the content came from our readership. We published once or twice a year and learned (oftentimes the hard way) how to live up to the mandate we had set for ourselves: to curate a largely submission-based, pansexual, collectable smut zine that was fun, risk-taking and safe for all parties involved in its creation. Sexpert Susie Bright’s words resonated with us: “If you don’t like what you see out your window, the most subversive thing you can do is make your own vision. If criticizing sex is so important, then where are our role models? Who do you think is going to make erotic expression meaningful to you if not yourself?”

With these goals in our hearts, minds and undies, we developed clear photo guidelines that prioritized the choice of the models in the photos. We featured seasoned and emerging artists who’d bravely contributed their work. I say “we” for good reason; I had the privilege of working with an amazing, ever-changing collective of people and together we mustered the audacity to win interviews with authors we admired (Annie Sprinkle, for example) as well as to become stewards and guides for amateur pornographers as they gingerly peeled off their clothes, then enthusiastically fucked each other for the camera. My comrades included my right-hand lady Kathleen K-R, Martin Reisch, Sherwin Tjia, Anita S., Tyler M., Mike Rollo and many others.

When I decided to leave Lickety Split after the seventh issue (January 2009), I didn’t want her to go to an early grave because that would have been selfish. The zine’s community was active and sales were good. Truthfully, I left the zine at what was then the peak of its popularity and when the quality of the content was at its highest.

When it was time to leave, Kathleen decided she had to leave too in order to focus on her new job. So I consulted with her and my core group of LS buds and together we decided to find a way for the zine to live on. We just needed to find Lickety Split a new editor and some other fresh-faced pervs.

Enter Sarah Beall. Sarah had been a contributor to Lickety Split for many years and was truly excited to take on the project when we asked her if she would be interested in receiving the smutty torch. We were relieved to have someone so solid on board and set to the task of training Sarah and her crew to run the zine. Sarah wisely took her time and focused first on some much-needed fundraising before publishing — no small task in and of itself as proper funding was never a strong enough priority for Lickety Split previously.

The hand-over of the zine and the related discussions, trainings and meetings fit neatly into Lickety Split’s tradition of maintaining a skill-sharing approach to pretty much everything. We’ve long recognized that while it’s valuable to cultivate expertise, it’s equally valuable to be open to fresh perspectives and to enrich the community by sharing ideas and info. Truly, this sort of approach has been an investment in the content and direction of the zine.

I decided to let go of Lickety Split because she was no longer what excited me most. I’d come to a point in my life where I wanted to focus my energy only on those parts of my life that I absolutely loved. Those essentials are my band Nightwood, my own art practice and my friends and family. To this end, I’ve let go of Lickety Split, the radio show I was a part of and (for this next year) my film collective. I’m not done with zines forever: I couldn’t help but make a how-to-tour zine with the band in May and I’ll surely work on many others in my life.

This past June, the eighth issue of Lickety Split was published. As always, she gets more beautiful with each passing year and always a bit sluttier too. Kathleen and I were at the launch party and sipped our drinks quietly at a table toward the back of the room, experiencing a mix of feelings. Around us was the new Lickety Split posse, including long time contributors, old friends and many new faces. I felt relieved and excited to have the zine continue on and, yes, a bit sad to see it go…but that seems to fit with how much we’d all invested in Lickety Split over the years and how important it is that the zine continues to titillate and entertain the smutty masses for years to cum.