About a year ago i was at Blockbuster with my husband. he pointed at the tv moniter & said,”isn’t that one of those girl bands that you like?” i looked up at the tv screen & saw Le Tigre singing “TKO” & i wanted to cry! it’s so silly cos i felt sad that Le Tigre was so popular that a few years before this they were on the Carson Daly sShow….initially i was excited but then i was heartbroken cos the girl bands that i loved so much for years (that no one i knew had ever heard of!)were no longer my little secret! for years i was so protective of this top secret underground club that i was an exclusive member of!!! i was selfish &didn’t wanna share– i wanted Riot Grrrl all to myself! & now everyone knew about it! the weird thing about it was– i wasn’t even into Riot Grrrl music like i had been years ago. i was totally outta the loop & had been for years. & when i first got into Riot Grrrl i didn’t really have anyone to share it with & woulda given anything to be around other girls in my small town that i could do zines & music with. but i didn’t have that when i was younger. all hat my friends cared about was boys….so i had to start something all by myself. i was on my own.
it all started in the summer of 1994. i turned 16 that summer. i was still mourning the death of Kurt Cobain. (something none of my friends seemed to understand. they didn’t even like Nirvana let alone understand why i was so upset when he died.) Music has always been my life. Nirvana had been one of my favorite bands for about 3 years ever since i saw the “smells like teen spirit” video on Headbanger’s Ball in 1991! a few years prior to this i was introduced to punk music by my older brother Joseph. cos he had cool skater friends that listened to the descendents,ramones,black flag,dead kennedys & social distortion. so at the age of 12 i put my Anthrax & Metallica tapes aside & got more into the mix tapes my brother made me with music by The Misfits & Samhain….when i was 15 i started watching “Alternative Nation” hosted by the oh-so-wacky Mtv VJ Kennedy. i knew that all the cool music was labeled “alternative” even tho just 2 years before it was called “indie”!! i wasn’t allowed to stay up late & watch “120 minutes” on sundays cos i had school the next day! One night Kennedy was interviewing Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth & they played the “Bull in the Heather” video. i couldn’t keep my eyes of the cute pigtailed girl bouncing around in the video & i thought she was so cool! i didn’t know who she was for a long time until i saw another interview with a very pregnant Kim Gordon & she said “that’s Kathllen Hanna from Bikini Kill”. i HAD to know more! i had read about Bikini Kill as well as Heavens to Betsy & Bratmobile in Sassy Magazine. & i didn’t know much about this whole Riot Grrrl movement i kept hearing about…only that i was a few years behind! i recall reading a section in Sassy called “zine of the month” or something to that effect but i still wasn’t sure what it was all about…my favorite bands at the time were Hole & Babes in Toyland. i had placed a pen pal ad in Metal Edge Magazine when i was 15 & as a result aquired quite a few pen pals! (up to 40 or 50 at one point! i just know it was a ridiculous amount & i dunno how the hell i kept that up!!!) i was adicted to MAIL!!! getting my mail was the highlight of my day! i couldn’t wait to get home from school everyday & find a stack of cool mail sitting on the kitchen table waiting for me! nothing made me happier! it was the best! mainly becos at the time i was extremely lonely & felt alienated living in a very small town with part time friends…..the handfull of friends that i did have weren’t always around & they were certainly not into the same music that i was into. they mostly listened to r&b and country music. which are 2 genres of music that i have never been into. i felt especially isolated that summer cos all of my friends had boyfriends & i was (as always!) SINGLE. so i reached out to the pen pal community! & in return i received a mailbox full of love & cool mail,stickers & mix tapes! the art of the mix tape was also how i was introducedt o Roit Grrrl music. thanks to my pen friend Amanda! she always made me the best mixes! which i still have to this day!!!! the first mix she made for me included Bikini Kill,Bratmobile,Heavens To Betsy & Huggy Bear. i couldn’t get enough!!! i wanted MORE!!!! she made me another mix with music by Viva Knievel,Raooul,Tourettes & Milk Money–& i was absolutley IN LOVE with this music! soon she sent me a Kill Rock Stars catalog & i couldn’t wait to order my own Riot Grrrl Records! i’m not sure what i ordered first. i just know that it made me HAPPY. nothing was cooler than singing along to Bratmobile’s “Cool Schmool” in my bedroom!
in early 1995, Amanda & her friend Meredith sent me their zine “Dustcake Girl” & i was in AWE of the AWESOMENESS of this little xeroxed work or art! i just thought it was the coolest! theses girls were so cool & publishing their writing & i just thought it was the greatest thing in the world! By the end of my sophomore year, my friends & i had yet again drifted apart. i felt abandoned by them again once summer rolled around. plus i was very disappointed that they had no interest in my newfound love for riot grrrl & zines. i was so excited to share this newly discovered phenomonon & they didn’t even care. i was so bummed that i had no one to support me in my new venture to do a zine. & i tried to recruit my friends to do zines with me for so many years! i was afraid to do one by myself. i’m not sure why. i really just wanted my friends to be a part of it. cos they were my best friends & they were tough & they meant a lot to me & really just wanted us to unite & create & KICK ASS. but…it never happened. they just weren’t into it.even tho i had gotten Jamie Lee to write reveiews ONCE .for a zine called “Lint Baby” that was never published. which is probably a good thing cos it was very embarassing cos i’m sure it woulda been all about how much i loved Tim Armstrong from Rancid!!!
I let Amber borrow Hole & Operation Ivy once & she actually liked them so i was proud of that!!about a year later i made her a mix of Bikini Kill & a few other RG bands but she had no response to that. i think it kinda scared her! i just remember that she had this boyfriend that i didn’t like cos he was abusive to her. so i gave her this mix tape thinking maybe she’d get a subliminal message & realize she didn’t need that guy. i thought she’d feel the same pride & empowerment i felt when i heard Kathleen scream & yell into a microphone. but i guess she didn’t get it. i wanted her to break up with her boyfriend…but she got pregnant by him instead. i had dropped outta high school my junior year & i felt so alone. i was sure that my girl friends at school would soon forget all about me. i felt like i left them all behind when i left high school. cos i never saw them outside of school anymore. they were kinda hard to find. so i befriended this group of boys …that were actaully my older brothers friends but they were in my grade at school. i felt like i could relate to them better at that time anyway.plus i was pissed at jamie lee cos she had ditched me for a boy one night. a boy that we had both dated.(we all went out with joel….)i was sick of girls ditching me for boys. so i just hung out with boys instead.
during this time i was getting into the Clash,Rancid,Sex Pistols & other guy fronted bands.but i also added Excuse Seventeen & Sleater-Kinney to my GRRRL collection. Corin Tucker’s voice gave me chills. Sleater-Kinney always made the kinda music that made me so jealous but i couldn’t help but LOVE it! they wrote songs i wish i wrote & i wished so much that i could do what they were doing & create this kinda music. Kill Rock Stars bands never played anywhere near my town. so i never had the chance to see any bands play like i wanted to so badly.
My bedrrom walls were plastered with collages i made with inspiring words,riot grrrl slogans & bikini kill lyrics. i was so proud to be a girl…I had had long hair down to my ass since i was 12 years old. at the age of 17 i was tired of it so i chopped it all off, up to right below my ears & it felt good! i felt FREE! it’s weird how something so simple can make you feel so different. my hair was short…it was choppy….it was uneven—but i LOVED it!!!!
i always wanted to be a ROCKSTAR. i’d been fantisizng about being in a band since i was 8 years old! but i didn’t play any instruments or know anyone else that did….so it never happened. i spent countless hours lipsycning to the Third Sex & Bratmobile & dancing in front of my mirror in my bedroom. & since the zine thing never worked out–i decided that i need to try to do something else.i just wanted to so something…anything!!! i wanted to be a part of the Riot Grrl scene, i wanted to make a difference, i wanted to be a part of the revolution.i was always WRITING. & i also liked to TALK! so i decided to start writing spoken word.which at first were mostly excerpts from my journal. i was only 17. the only spoken word i had ever heard was Henry Rollins. & my pieces were nothing like his…..i had no idea what i was doing. but for some reason it just came naturally to me. i just talked into my tape recorder & it just flowed. then i cut & pasted an insert for it,photocopied it & started trading the tapes for zines. my first tape was called “debutante’–which eventually hated so i was glad only about 12 people got that tape! the next one was entitled “Tiddlywinks” & i think the majority of that was recorded in my grandma’s kitchen cos i liked the acoustics in there!
For awhile,everytime i ordered from Kill Rock Stars i would get a little ad for Tobi Vail’s cassette label Bumpidee. so the idea of starting my own cassette label materialized sometime in 1996. i’m not sure exactly when it was but since i was doing all these spoeken word tapes–it just made sense for me to just start my own tape label. i called it “Dead Meat”. i don’t remember why i decided on that name but i think it had a lot to do with the fact that i worked at McDonald’s at the time & i came home smelling like dead meat & onions everyday & i hated it! & since i started doing my tape label & sending out flyers & catalogs- alotta other grrrls doing the same thing started contacting me & i was so excited! a few girls were doing tape compilations so i decided to do one too! i put together a few ads & sent them out to people. the first band to respond was The Others. i can’t even begin to explain the excitement i felt when i received this package in the mail! i also got music from The Post Toasties -a girl band from Arizona. the bass player kim who also did a zine called “Miss Priss” -she sent me their demo. a girl named Erin (she also did a zine called “Glamour Queen“) sent a few songs by her band The Volanteens. (erin was in several bands over the years & always had cool music to send for whatever project i was working on at the time! Later she was in The Makeshift Conspiracy & Delta Dart.) i was compilinga spoken word compilation at the same time but didn’t get as many contributions for that tape. So my “Riot” comp. ended up being music & spoken word. i recorded another spoken word tape in the summer of ’96 & that was called “Saddlesore”. i received alotta positive feedback! so i was absolutely ecstatic that people actually liked what i was doing!
a funny story–i had a crush on this boy all summer. i ran into him one day & told him about my spoken word tape & he told me he’d like to hear it. so i saw him again later that week & he bought one. (i was gonna just give it to him but it was only $3 & he insisted on buying it cos i was a “starving artist”)so he bought my tape not knowing that one of the tracks was about him! i don’t think he ever knew–there’s no way he woulda known unless someone told him!it’s just funny cos i ran into him again at a mall about 6 months later & he told me how much he like the tape & that he was impressed. i just smiled to myself!!!
A few of my spoken word pieces got put on a few compilations. the track that got the most attention was on a compilation on the cassette label Pass The Buck. the piece was called “Cringer Turns Into Battlecat.” it got good reveiws!
my spoken word was compared to Kathleen Hanna’s wordcore 7″ in Riot Grrrl Reveiw (& in other zines!!!!) but i had never heard that record…so i ordered it. i thought it was so great. soon after that i ordered the Sue P. Fox cassette. i’m not sure when i got the Fakes record–it may have been before that but the “Real Fiction” album definitely had a huge influence on me & my spoekn word. the spoken word on that album is just so intense & filled with emotion. it really made me wanna improve my work & write something powerful like that. i started writing these long epic poem type things. that was a really important time in my life. cos i was so inspired. & i was like a sponge! every little thing inspired me…i got inspiration from the littlest things!!! i’ve tried to recapture that feeling so many times since then (to no avail). Riot Grrrl was just such a big part of my life in 96-99 & empowered me to do so much. just listening to strong women making strong music made me stronger. & made me realize i should be proud cos i was a girl & it taught me to not be not ashamed to be who/what i was. i wasn’t embarrassed to walk down the street wearing a shirt that said “My Pussy My Choice.” that year i got so fed up with boys. & i soon realized i didn’t hafta put up with their shit. i was sick of being fucked over. i was always obsessing over boys & i was tired of it. when a relationship turned sour i’d confine myself to my room & let the music comfort me. & when i started writing spoken word it was about boys. not one boy but several boys that i had dated.but yeah–boys inpired my writing & back then it seemed like my whole world. of course in hindsight is see how unimportant these guys were. but those people gave me material! the shit that these boys put me thru made me angry & that anger made me wanna WRITE & that anger came out on paper & right outta my mouth & into my tape recorder. that’s why those pieces are so genuine cos it’s real. i felt every sentence & i meant every word. but now i know that those boys had absolutley no impact on my life in the grand scheme of things. but my feelings about them & the fucked up situations i went thru with them had a big impact on my ART. & that’s all that matters –that SOMETHING came out of it. & looking back now: i don’t remember the bad things about that year. i only see pink lipstick,glitter,cool zines & good music. things were SIMPLE.
things were just so much easier when the most importanat thing in my life was getting the new Sleater-Kinney record!!!!
at the end of 1996 i recorded a spoken word tape called “Superstar!” & it featured a spoken word piece but a rad girl named Sabrina! she was one of the few people to send something for my spoken word comp. she was also on the “riot” comp….in the fall of ’96 is when i started hanging out with Len.a skater boy that played drums & we shared many of the same interests. & he was the only person in my town that EVER showed any interest in RG & zines & whatever i was doing. we became best friends. tho we never started a band together like we wanted to….i remember i had just received a zine called “cuite pie” by a girl named Melon & she sent me a tape of her band Cindy Lou Who & i wanted to start a band like that! our band never happened & we attempted to do a zine together. it was called “Space Patrol”…it was never finished.i wish we would finished it especially since i had the pleasure of interviewing Emily’s Sassy Lime for it! i ended up putting that in a zine/catalog. i did the same thing with a Bis interview in early 1997. cos at that point i had never finished a zine–i’d start one & give up on it. i’d just think the whole thing was stupid & no one would like it so i just didn’t finish it. so i actually didn’t do a zine until i was 19. the first zine i did was called “i hate you (this is goodbye)” & i didn’t even disrtibute it myself. it was only available thru Pander Distro. & my first zine that i did on my own was “Veronica Lodge”. it took me nearly 3 years to do a zine & that’s kinda stupid considering that i wanted to do one so badly for so long. i dunno why i didn’t just do it. stop talking about it & just do it already!!!i had this big fear or rejection from the zine community. but when i finally pruduced a zine all i got was love & support!! so i thank all those girls that wrote me letters full of enthusiasum & encouragement!!!
summer 1997 was the best time in my life. cos it was when i was at my most CREATIVE! this is when “Starstruck (punk as fuck)” was written & recorded. i can only WISH that i could still write like i did that summer. it’s ten years later & i never thought i’d be 29 years old & looking back at that time period & calling it my “glory days”!!!! things were just so different back then. i guess cos i was so young & everything was just so exciting for me back then. & this was the only time in my life that i didn’t have a boyfriend or someone that i was obsessing over. i did have a small crush on a boy named ryan that worked at a record store in muncie,indiana. 2 stores in muncie were selling my spoken word & i felt like i was on top of the world!!! one store owner told me that i was becoming “quite the local goddess” to a few girls in town. i was so happy! so i didn’t need boys… i was so focused on writing & creating art. all i needed was music & zines as opposed to sex & boys!
Before i released my “riot” compilation (it took about a YEAR to get enough material for it!!!) i changed my “Dead Meat” label to “Ego Records”. i used to tell people it was becos i always got accused of being self-centered & vain (which is true-i did) but i really came up with the name cos i wanted it to be 3 letters! so in my catalog i could number things EGO-001 & EGO-002 & so on….& that’s the reason i chose “EGO” as the name!!! Sabrina had recorded more spoken word so i told her i’d do a tape on “Ego” for her. soon “Fallen Star” was released followed by a split tape by Lickety Slpit & Pretty Fury. Pretty Fury was 2 girls that recorded some of the coolest songs in a basement! i couldn’t resist doing a tape for them! Lickety Split was an all girl band from California & they had some cool hits as well!!! my favorite being a song called “glamour queen”…. around this time it seemed like everyone had a tape label! it was so fun trading tapes for distro with all the other small tape labels!!! i started a distro cos i wanted to include other labels tapes in my catalog! especially since alotta their music was on my compilations anyway! it was just a really awesome time.
another small label that was really great was My Room Records. it started out as a tape label but eventually they started producing their own records & i really looked up to Wendianne & the other kids at My Room cos they really created alotta good music & kicked so much ass. i really miss The Sarcastic Bitch & Goodnite Moon!!!
in early 1998 “Babelicious” was born.this was my (very) personal zine. doing spoken word i was used to spilling my guts & my secrets….but i really poured my heart out in this zine….i did it for about 3 years. over the years i was sending zines & spoken word tapes to Kathleen Hanna c/o Kill Rock Stars. anytime i wrote a letter she would write back & it made me happy that she took the time to do that. but being as popular as she was, i never thought she wold really pay attention to what i wrote or anyting cos i’m sure she got tons of mail from lotsa people.
there were a few times i really felt like giving up on zines.then i received this letter from Kathleen & whenever i was down i was read it & it always made me feel better!!!
I noticed things started to slow down in 1999. alotta people i used to trade zines with just stopped zining or moved on to bigger & better things.i’d get letters from cool girls (& boys!) every once in awhile…but they were few & far between & it just wasn’t the same anymore. i wasn’t on that same high…i recorded a tape called “Primadonna” which i actually forgot about until i was looking thru my spoken word tapes a few days ago! & Leah from Teen Anthem Records asked me to do a cd.that’s when “i’d start a revolution but i don’t have time” came out. so i did that & she also made magnets with my photo on it & pins that said “i love jolie” as promo! (which i sent to Kathleen!) that year EGO was mostly a distro.
in 2000-i sorta lost my way.everyday was a panic attack & i was tired of feeling that way. i was so proud of the fact that i didn’t drink or do drugs ( i was never straightedge but i just wasn’t into drinkin’ & druggin’) music got pushed to the backburner while i went out to sew some wild oats! so..2000 was the summer of boys & booze.(i did a zine about it & that turned out pretty good! so something came outta that fucked up experience!) i recorded a tape called “princess” but it was kinda lame. i’d get drunk & record & it just wasn’t like what i used to do. plus no one seemed interested in my work anymore & i wasn’t taken seriously & that only made me wanna drink more.Cadallaca’s “out west” ep & Sleater-Kinney’s “all hands on the bad one” rekindled my love for Riot Grrrl after a bad break up in 2001. i recorded a spoken word tape called “the story of my life”.
by the end of 2001 i stopped doing “Babelicious” one of the reasons i wanted to quit was becos of all these popularity contest type distros. i felt inadaquate & like my zine was just not up to par compared to their zines. alotta zinesters made me feel like my zine wasn’t even worth reading let alone good enough to be included in their elite distro. i lost interest in the zine community becos of this. everything lost it’s charm so i just quit. it was a BOY that made me wanna get back into it. Lo-Fi Bri from St. Louis started writing to me in 2001. i think he just bought a bunch of zines at first & then we started corresponding. he sent me all these old Bratmobile & Sleater-Kinney & H2B & Le tigre Videos that he had collected. it totally renewed my faith in the cause! the last issue of “babelicious” was a split wth his last issue of his zine “dumboy” & that came out in 2002.
i went to st louis in March 2002 to see Le Tigre with Brian. i met kathleen hanna. it was the greatest night in my life. the show was great–i danced i sang along to every song. before they played i spotted kathleen in the crowd so i went over to her & as soon as she saw me she knew who i was! i handed her my zine & i think i might have shook her hand! & i said “i’m jolie….”she shocked me by exclaiming,”i thought that was you! i looked over & i thought ‘that girl looks like jolie!'” i was speechless! becos kathleen seemed just as excited to meet me! she told me that she had my magnet on her fridge & that her & johanna “talk about me all the time like they knew me” & they were always like “oh i wonder what jolie’s been doing” & i just stood there in amazement with my mouth hanging open! i had my picture taken with her & later during their set Kathleen dedicated “the the empty” to me. she was like “oh…this song is for Jolie!” i was standing in the front row & she points at me & says,”she’s right there!” that totally made my night…it made my LIFE!!!!! & it was funny to hear Brian tell the story to him co-workers the next day :”Kathleen Hanna, who is like..The QUEEN of Riot Grrrl, came up to Jolie & hugged her!”
later–it seemed like that moment shoulda meant more to me…but a few months after that i was no longer interested in zines & i stopped listening to Riot Grrrl. with the exception of a few songs on mix tapes that people made for me. the music that once was so important to me & my life–wasn’t enough to save me from alcoholism & being used by boys & hating myself. i just hung out with my friends & their band for a few years. & i was fine just standing on the sidelines & cheering them on. My friend jamie’s band The Street Freaks was a huge part of my life for a few years.Jamie was my best friend & is now my husband.
i have changed so much since i was a young ambitious Riot Grrrl!!i’m so different but being a wife hasn’t changed my outlook about RG & the importance that it had on my life as a teen. i’m still proud to be a girl & i’m now getting back to my “riot grrrl roots” & this zines is just the first step! i want so much to get back into creating things cos there’s just so much more i wanted to accomplish when i was younger that i never got the done. i wanna pick up where i left off….i started writing zines again in 2004. until recently i had all but given up on RG zines. i didn’t think they existed anymore. cos it’d been so long since i received one in the mail. then they started popping up all over the place! i think it was just becos i didn’t know where to find them. people my age weren’t doing zines anymore(atleast the ones i knew back in the day)& i noticed that girl zinesters were getting younger & younger! sure it made me feel old but it also made me happy! cos no matter what there are always gonna be new people discovering Riot Grrrl like i did when i was 16. i was just like them at one time & it’s so cool to see it’s still happening.it makes me happy to see young girls writing cool zines & playing kick ass music. as i get older i may not have the time & energy todo all the things i did when i was younger & it’s good to see girls out there taking over! cos i am almost 30 so i am more than happy to pass on the torch! maybe they can accomplish more than i ever did! so i am elated to know that the revolution will continue to rage on!!!
I’m so proud to say that i was once part of the RIOT GRRRL REVOLUTION!!!