Five Questions: Philly Feminist Zine Fest

As part of International Zine Month, we’re getting in touch with some enterprising folks in the zine community and asking them a few questions about what they do and how they do it. First up is Sarah Rose, a Philadelphia-based zine-maker and distributor co-presenting the first-ever Philly Feminist Zine Fest along with pals Kristen Asher, Taryn Hipp and Jen King. Taking place on Saturday August 26, the fest will feature a variety of feminist exhibitors and zinemakers, as well as some amazing-sounding workshops, including ones on sex communication and decriminalizing sex work. All proceeds from the fest will go to the  Project Safe, which provides and promotes harm reduction strategies for women working in prostitution on the street in Philadelphia.

Broken Pencil: So what inspired you to put on a feminist zine fest? 

Sarah Rose: The NYC Feminist Zine Fest was amazing. Best fest ever, in fact. A month or so after that, someone asked if I’d help out with a craft fest that was happening at the Rotunda which was meant to be a benefit for Project Safe. The organizer of that fest left town, and by that time, the idea had been planted in my head to have a benefit that involved zinesters as well as crafters. So, a natural progression from there was to evolve it into a zine fest that might have a few crafters present.

How do you and the other organizers know each other?

Kristen, Jen and I are all staffers at Wooden Shoe Books, an anarchist bookstore and infoshop here in Philly. I’ve read and admired Taryn’s writing for as long as I can remember, so asking her to be involved was also a no-brainer.

The proceeds of your fest are going to an organization that provides harm reduction services to sex workers in Philadelphia, and a couple of the workshops are either indirectly or directly related to working and relating to sex workers (I’m thinking specifically of the Decriminalizing Sex Work and How to Be An Ally workshops). How did you decide that this organization would be the recipient of the fair’s proceeds, and concurrently, why did you feel it was important to include these particular workshops?

Previously, I had been approached for help with a craft fair that was to benefit Project SAFE. It was a bummer when the craft fair fell through, but the idea had been planted. I had been familiar with Project SAFE via some stuff they’ve done with the Wooden Shoe, so it never really occurred to me to find another recipient. But even if I had, I think there tends to be less funding for sex workers than there might be for other totally worthwhile organizations designed to aid female-identified people.

To many, feminist politics and zine culture are inexorably linked, but it seems the notion of a zine festival centered around feminist themes is relatively new. Why do you think it’s taken so long for feminist-specific zine fests like yours and the New York edition to appear on the scene?

I think that zines are such a small community that further fragmenting them gets into pretty small groups. However, in recent years music and comic zines have been a rising trend. While music and comic zines are a really important part of independent media and that community, there’s something gratifying about being in a room full of people who share a lot of the same politics, ideas, and experiences. I hope that other fests will crop up from this as well. It would be so amazing to go to a queer zine fest, too.

Are there any vendors or events related to the fest that you’re particularly psyched about?

All of them! Some of the first people I invited were long time friends and zinesters I admire. So that’s exciting.  I’m super psyched about the workshops, the free HIV testing, and the raffle prizes some really generous folks donated to raise money for Project SAFE, too. And for the many of the people tabling to read from their zines the night before the actual event at Wooden Shoe Books. It’s all such a great opportunity to hang out with rad people and  read and trade zines with cool creative folks to help out a great organization.

For more info on the Philly Zine Fest, go here.
Organizers are also reading a zine a day as part of International Zine Month, and you can check out their progress at the Fest’s blog.

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