Venus Zine Magazine is one of the best zines by and about, though not just for, women. Just because it’s slick and you might (or might not) find in on your newsstand doesn’t mean it’s not edgy. Rather than ramble on about how great it is, let’s just cut to the chase and dive in to the interview with editor Amy Schroeder.
SLUG: How is Venus different from other magazines? What topics or approaches to topics do you take that others don’t? Why did you select Janeane Garofalo for the cover story, and how is that indicative of the type of women you cover? Are there certain people, like perhaps a Jessica Simpson, who you wouldn’t cover because they are overexposed or just don’t have much intelligent to say? Or would you try to cover that type of person with an unusual perspective?
Schroeder: We’ve spent a lot of years establishing ourselves as a music publication, and now that we’ve accomplished that goal, we’re also covering women in film, activism, visual art, fashion, and D.I.Y. culture, the latter of which is one of our most popular sections. Janeane Garofalo is the second non-musician cover story we’ve had in the history of Venus covers. The first was actress Natasha Lyonne for issue No. 18 (winter 2003). We feel that Janeane has an amazing voice in the indie community. Whereas I feel that some leading indie musicians and creative types aren’t voicing their opinions about politics because they want to play it safe, Janeane has the balls to stand up for her progressive political opinions. Our mission is to feature women and men who are making good and interesting art. Our interviews range from Sleater-Kinney to Yoko Ono to comedian David Cross to the Beastie Boys to actress Pam Grier.
SLUG: What recent features you are excited about?
Schroeder: I’m excited about the development of some of our fun, regular features such as “Random Top 10 List,” in which we ask various musicians, comedians, and writers to concoct their own top 10 list; they get to pick the concept and write their own list. For instance, David Cross did “David Cross’ Top 10 Top-10 Lists List,” which was brilliant. We’ve also got “Record Shopping With,” in which we give a band $50 to blow at a record store and then we write about their experience and their usually silly purchases. The D.I.Y. section is always fun too. We’ve got cool how-to stories on how to make your own fortune cookies or how to make a clock out of a vinyl record, stuff like that. I’m also always inspired by musicians who tell us amazing stories and give us quotes that they don’t give to anyone else. It’s like they trust us more than they trust, say, Rolling Stone. Because the magazine is published four times a year, the Web site, venuszine.com, fills in the blanks between issues and provides original content that you can’t find in the mag, more reviews and interviews, concert postings, forums with Venus readers, contests, and a section where Venus readers can promote their own URLs.
SLUG: what are you doing special for your 20th issue?
Schroeder: We had a party at Chicago’s Empty Bottle to celebrate our 20th issue and had such a great time. I also published a thank-you letter to our readers in the 20th issue. It’s a really strong issue in every way, editorially speaking. To me, that’s celebrating.