Zines Without Borders By Hadass “Badass” Bar Lev

I started writing zines rather late. It was 2007 and I was 24 years old. I was in a new country (Israel), in a new city (Jerusalem) with such a different way of life and mentality than the one I knew back in Montreal. The polarized emotions and the culture shock I felt were too powerful for me to contain. Every time I wrote another issue of my zine, it was like a huge sigh of relief as I felt all of those powerful emotions drain out of me and come to life on paper.

Back then, it was all new to me and it was exciting and riveting. As I do with anything I love, I obsessed over zines. I read as much as I could about it, wrote about it, talked about it, listened to the music that accompanied the zine scene of the early 90s, dreamt about it, and wished that I knew more people who were into it. Sadly, there isn’t much of a zine scene in Israel, if at all, so I reached out to other zinesters overseas, and this was when I started trading zines.

I love trading zines! This is my main source of inspiration. Because zines, especially perzines, are so personal and intimate, it’s the next best thing to meeting the creator in person. The zine is the artistic reincarnation of its creator. Every zine is different like every person is different – the writing style, the layout technique, the art incorporated, the talent, the voice, the experience. This is what inspired me to create my own zines and keep creating them.

It went on for about nine years. During that time, I changed so drastically that I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I had my heart broken and mended and broken again, I started and completed psychological therapy, I lost my grandmother, I had more surgeries than a person in their 20s ever should have, I experimented with different forms of art and activism, I also experimented with drugs and alcohol, I met new friends, then lost all of them one by one, I met the love of my life, I got married, travelled endlessly until the Covid crisis stole that from right under me…

But none of these experiences changed me as much as having a child and becoming a mother. In November 2016, writing zines hit the cold rock bottom of my priorities’ list with a loud resounding thud. My child became my whole world and nothing else mattered. I cared about absolutely nothing but my kid.

Still, I struggled and did my best to keep writing, in between baths, loads of laundry, diaper-changing, feeding times and bedtimes. If perzines are the papercarnations of their creator, and if the creator’s very essence is a maternal one, a zine about motherhood was definitely in order. So I wrote the zine Ima Badass about my experience with motherhood and how I try to balance that part of my life with the one I had back in my 20s.

But no matter how much I changed, trading zines is still important to me and this is what I miss most of all about the zine life. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t make as many zines anymore, but I just can’t seem to land a trade with almost anyone anymore. Sometimes I think maybe it has to do with reasons that are out of my control. I mean, I’m an Israeli zinester after all. And since all my trades are overseas, boycotts abound. I don’t know if that’s the reason – and if you ask me, that’s a fucked up one – but either way, I miss the beautiful brown envelopes in my mailbox. I find myself buying more zines than trading them because this is the only way I seem to be getting zines right now.

And though this is not the reason why I decided to contribute to this blog, Nyx from Sea Green Zines is the only zinester I can still expect to be up for trading zines. A while back, I even got a surprise package from them and it just made my day. If I actually manage to get my ass in gear and send them a couple of zines back, they always feature it on their Happy Mail Monday video cast and it makes my day as well.

I guess my reason for writing this post is to show other zinesters that I’m still me. Still an artist, still a writer, still a feminist, still a metalhead, still a mother, and still lots of different things that have nothing to do with the fucked up politics of the Middle East. There is no reason to boycott me. I took part in the Boston Zine Fest in 2015 for fuck’s sake and the zinesters there sure as fuck had no problem accepting me as one of their own. The zinester community should recognize no borders. And boycotting a zinester makes no sense because rarely does a zinester make any money anyway.

I love zinesters, and I love zines, and I still take part in zine events such as International Zine Month and ZineWriMo, and I just recently joined the Monthly Zine Project community. I so wish that I could meet more zinesters who love trading zines as much as I do.

So if you are one of those awesome zinefolks, don’t be shy, come over and say hi. I’m nice and friendly, I promise. And my zines kick some major fucking ass, I promise that too!

Peace, love and back in the zineverse!

This Badass spills her guts in Fallopian Falafel (a compilation zine from 2007 to 2011), Purple Moon Spawn – A PMS Perzine (from 2010 to present), and the one-off zines: Ima Badass, International Zine Month 2018 Zine, Raise Your Horns and More than Default Male. Her words of sheer badassery are also found in her blog Riot Grrrl in Israel, hadass420.wordpress.com. Contact this lonely zinester at fallopian.falafel@gmail.com and make her day!

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