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April 2, 2010

Well, it looks like Venus Zine has decided to distance itself from that whole feminism thing. According to a profile of the magazine in the most recent issue of the Chicago Reader, new owner Sarah Beardsley is intent on increasing the number of issues and its circulation by backing away from its “indie lady roots”. I can’t help but wonder, though, what this actually means for the direction of the magazine. Considering that Beardsley hired former Body & Soul (a Martha Stewart-branded magazine!!!!) associate editor Jill Russell as Venus Zine editor in chief, changes are certainly in the air.

So, to find out what this new Venus Zine is like, I thought I’d take a look at the new issue.

In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t read an issue of Venus Zine in a year or so, but I read every issue for about five years before that.

– Melissa Auf Der Mar on the cover?! I thought Venus Zine was trying to distance itself from the nineties!

+ Sarah Beardsley writes in her note from the publish, “you prove that smart, creative women are a force to be reckoned with- in music, fashion, the arts, and increasingly, the economy… I have always been a passionate advocate for other women.” Well that sounds okay…

– … But her pictgure makes her look like the ultimate corporate executive narc

+ Highlights Chicago-based duo My Gold Mask and I gotta say, they’re pretty good

– Blurb about new BARBIE DOLLS?!?!?!?! I don’t care if they’re Joan Jett or Debbie Harry, I don’t want to read about new Barbie dolls in Venus Zine!

– Article about how to become a filmmaker that doesn’t offer much of anything

+ In an interview with  Those Darlins the Tennessee band says their armpit hair is their way of saying, “‘we’re feminists, and we’re normal just like you.’ You don’t have to be a freak of nature to be a feminist. Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, they were feminists.” SCORE ONE FOR TEAM FEMINISM!

+ Inspired by the new film about The Runaways, there’s a little blurb about other women punk bands like X-Ray Spex, The Slits, The Gits, and Hole that deserve to have films made about them

+/- A short little essay about how beauty pageants and how they mirror everyday life, but then really can’t decide if that’s actually true.

+ Blurb about French art museum Pompidou Centre’s new permanent collection devoted to women-created art, Elles@Centrepompidou.

+ Interview with The Babysitters Club author Ann M. Martin on the series’ new prequel. The books also being re-issued for the first time in ten years.

+/- Interview with Melissa Auf Der Mar notes that she is a strong female raised by a single mother who was “at the epicenter of the feminist movement” but I stopped reading after it became all about Billy Corgan and Courtney Love.

– Boring fashion spread with boring clothes on skinny models, one white and one east Asian,


As far as I can remember, new Venus Zine isn’t all that different in its philosophy from old Venus Zine. The new owner might be afraid of the “f word” but this doesn’t necessarily translate into the magazine. I can imagine some of the things I actually like about the magazine are going to slowly disappear as it makes its transition into the mainstream, but I can’t imagine they’ll disappear all together. Really, though, my problem with this issue, and Venus Zine as of late, is that it doesn’t have much in the way of substance. The magazine reads like a catalog more more than it used to, and I can’t see myself reading it unless there is some interesting writing that isn’t promoting a band, film, book, or fashion line. If I wanted to read a magazine like that, I would read Nylon!

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