It’s not just a Bowie song. Suffragette City, a new intersectional feminist zine, aims to marry the DIY spirit of zines with the production value of a full-fledged magazine. Spearheaded by editor-in-chief and graphic designer Gwynn Galitzer, Suffragette City smartly combines the best of two worlds, resulting in an independently-produced yearly publication that has entrancing visuals and spirited content, like essays on gender activism, interviews with witches, styled photo spreads, poetry, hand-drawn lettering, comics, and more.
As they gear up to release their second-ever issue, they’ve been throwing monthly fundraising shows that double as parties, and will launch a formal fundraising campaign soon. I sat down with Gwynn, fresh from organizing and styling the zine’s cover photoshoot featuring model Angel Rose, to find out what’s up and what’s next.
Zines are one of the few forms of print media that are relatively thriving at least on a local scale, thanks to shops like Molasses Books and Bluestockings, maker pop-up shops at places like Shwick and Catland, and events such as the Bushwick Art Book and Zine Fair and Brooklyn Zine Fest.
- Magazines, on the other hand, are far less prevalent than they once were. Written media and photos within print publications have mostly moved to the internet, which doesn’t allow as much for glossy photo spreads and sharply designed editorial layouts.
“It’s a super DIY zine, but the production level is really high. We do all the fundraising and everything so we can print this in such a high caliber. I love print, I love working on paper, I love collage. I love having a tactile thing. There’s something about having your work physically printed. It communicates to someone else that someone has invested the money to physically publish your work,” she says. “[And] the work deserves it. It’s all done through fundraising, it’s all volunteer-based, it’s all advertisement-free, and it’s clearly expensive to make. ”
Suffragette City‘s first issue, which was all about hair, came out in 2015. They printed 300 copies and had a kickoff event at Silent Barn, and now sell copies at Bluestockings. The second issue (the theme is Politics) is slated to run the week before Election Day in November. Naturally, there will be an appropriately-themed release party, also at Silent Barn.
The content and people in Suffragette City reflects Galitzer’s multifaceted community; she grew up in the city, studied Fine Arts at SVA, sings in a band, and has spent several years curating and producing art events throughout the city.
“I didn’t just grow up in the city, I went elementary school through college in a five-block radius in Chelsea. It’s a small town,” she says. “I have a lot of my childhood friends in this. [Design Director] Nicole Ruggiero and I [have been] best friends since we were 4 years old, as well as Harley Kinberg who is our illustrator. It’s the first time we’ve been working on a creative project together, it’s been really awesome.”
She got the idea for the zine from the monthly event she helps run with her boyfriend, a workshop-based reading and music series called Having A Whiskey Coke With You that’s now been running for five years.
“I noticed there was a lot of really powerful female-identifying readers, but the events were very male-heavy. Mostly because the reading scene is very male-dominated. I was talking to my boyfriend Jesse, saying that he should do a female-centric [event], and he was like, ‘I think you should do something.”
Since the reading series was already producing a monthly zine and she grew up doing “music and zines” all throughout high school, Galitzer figured this would be similar, made in the classic DIY Xeroxed style she was used to. She soon realized that the project was moving in a sleeker direction. “All the sudden it started snowballing, the quality of the work was going up and up and up. So I realized I needed to step this up more, I needed to make this high caliber.”
Galitzer works as a graphic designer and concentrated in printmaking at SVA, so she felt strongly that the quality of the publication needed to be up there with the pros. “We printed with one of the industry leaders in the city. Because I’m a graphic design nerd, I want everyone I know who does graphic design to look at it and go, yes, you did it right,” she says. “It was also investing in the people involved. I can’t have everyone put all this work in it and not make it the greatest thing I could possibly do. It felt necessary.”
Though many of the people featured in Suffragette City are people Galitzer knows personally, this does not make for any sort of lapse in legitimacy. Joanne Petit-Frere, who created the wigs and hair sculptures featured in one of several beautiful photo spreads shot by Alannah Farrell, has done work for celebrity clients. “Joanne gets hired a lot for these big deal photoshoots and performers, she’s done hairpieces for Beyoncé and all these crazy music videos, but she doesn’t get billing for it. I thought it was important to give her some spotlight,” says Galitzer.
The Hair issue also features journalist and nightlife figure Gerry Visco (Galitzer calls her one of her best friends), “gender capitalist” androgynous model Rain Dove, and “masculine-of-center and/or genderqueer” activist Lucy Parks. Notably, Suffragette City features a diverse spread of minds and bodies often absent from the pages of glossy productions. “I’m very adamant that we are really an intersectional thing,” she says. “You can’t say you’re a feminist and not be intersectional. [It’s] definitely not all cis, heterosexual, white women. That’s also not representative of the people I know.” And it’s not just local; they put out a submission call via Twitter for their next issue and got a many responses, including someone currently living in the Philippines.
Suffragette City has been doing fundraising events monthly, and their next one is this Saturday. They’re starting at Williamsburg’s Two Boots Pizza for a “mini zine fair,” where they’ll also have handmade buttons featuring “strong female lead characters from the ‘90s with pizza.” After that, everyone will head over to the Gutter Bar for a rock show of female-fronted bands, including Galitzer’s own band, No Ice. She’s been committed to involving as many women as she can for these events. “If the venue has women on staff, I request they work that night,” she tells me.
“It’s not like I have investors or I personally have money. I don’t have any experience with how it’s supposed to work at a magazine. It’s just me. It’s literally run out of my living room,” she says, telling me for their last photoshoot they moved all the furniture in her house and shot everything in the zine in 17 hours. She rented a room for a shoot this time, for her sanity.
Despite the immense work it takes to put out a publication like this, Galitzer shows no signs of stopping, and is considering starting a podcast and making miniature zines with Nicole Ruggiero in addition to the big yearly publication.
“I want more than anything for someone to give it to a 16-year-old girl and have her be like, ‘Yeah!’ And then for her to make a zine,” she says, grinning. “Also, I would like to get enough funding to pay everyone involved. I’d like to raise enough money so that everyone that put in hard work can get paid for it. And it’s going to happen. I have faith. If not for this one, then the next one.”