Bring back the Zine Scene: part 1

‘Sup, Bookwyrms? We begin our Subversive Summer Reading Program with two magazines that reboot one of the raddest 90s phenomena: the alternative magazine.

WARNING: the title reviewed in this post is NSFW, so I recommend reading this where the people in charge of your paycheck won’t see you. 😉

Photo of two magazines, BUST and Sonic Chihuahua.  The former is a more traditionally published magazine, featuring actress Uzo Aduba.  

The other is a small zine self-published by Angelique Jamail, author and blogger at Sappho's Torque.  It has a pencil sketch of a chihuahua's face on the cover, as well as a smiley face sketch in the bottom right corner, just above the words "volume 2, issue 1 May 2021."


My BUST a Move list on Spotify, a collection of BUST-inspired and recommended artists like:

  • The trippy synth-pop quartet Kalbells, with whom I became so insta-obsessed I iTuned both complete albums;
  • The equally trippy art-pop tUnE-yArDs;
  • Disco-punk band CHAI, whose latest album (created on Zoom) is “the musical equivalent of comfort food”;
  • The Linda Lindas, a group of new middle-grade/high-school Riot Grrrls;
  • and Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox.
Cover photo for my BUST a Move playlist.  It's a square made of four horizontal banners, each showing part of a CD cover, from Kalbells' Max Heart to Scott Bradlee's Jazz Age Thirst Trap.

It all began when I was listening to an episode of the Pi Beta Alpha podcast (an off-shoot of Double Love), in which Anna and Karyn expressed extreme skepticism about the TV show’s assumption that Jessica Wakefield reads Sassy, a late-80s/early-90s counter-culture magazine.

I’m thinking either:

  • the episode writers hadn’t read their Sweet Valley Bible closely enough and underestimated Jessica’s epic level of social-climing Mean Girl conformity…
  • Jessica/the writers picked up the magazine purely for the fashion content and paid no attention to the actual messages…
  • or (to be totally optimistic) the writers were exercising a bit of authorial rebellion by exposing the Queen of Mean to an alternative point of view.

In any case, I was extremely intrigued by Anna and Karyn’s nostalgic waxing about the racy, empowering, socially-conscious magazine. Unfortunately, all the ebay copies I could find were a bit out of my price range at the time, so I started looking for contemporary equivalents.

And so, as I was browsing Barnes and Noble’s periodical section, the Spring 2021 issue of BUST — a.k.a. Chest Trunk, according to Google Translate 😆 (see previous post) — caught my eye. The rosy pink cover featured Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) standing boldly with her hands on her hips and her head turned slightly to give the reader a Mona Lisa side-eye.

A quick survey of the headlines hooked me with promises of third-wave feminist (i.e. racially, sexually, and gender-inclusive) attitudes; sex-positive musings (one of the articles is about how to maintain a successful open relationship); and a more global view of women’s history (contributor Lara McCaffrey writes about Southeast Asian vegetarian halls, alternative communal homes where women escaped unwanted marriages or unsupportive home situations, made their own money, and generally cared for each other instead of letting men control them).

Also, #vanlife, neo-roller-skating culture and tips for creating rad recipes with foraged ingredients (see Alexis Nikole Nelson‘s acorn pancakes! 😀 ). I HIGHLY recommend following Alexis Nikole, who goes by @blackforager on Instagram and @alexisnikole on TikTok. She’s 2021’s raddest alternative home ec teacher and she will song-and-dance her way into your hearts with her lessons on pinecone syrup, magnolia cookies, “tree tea,” dandelion fritters, and seaweed snacks (Seaweed Week > Shark Week and I will fight you on that).

Plus, she’ll teach you how to recognize those “toxic lookalikes” that can make people nervous about getting into foraging in the first place. See this article from Bon Appetit for more info on how Nelson got started and how she went viral!

So, of course I subscribed and was even more delighted by the Summer ’21 issue, with its Fried Green Tomatoes fashion and feminist alt-Harry Potter book recs, anti-racist art history, and tips on rebooting the colonialist AF “Tiki Bar” into something more legitimately fun and socio-eco conscious (hint: there are multiple women already doing it).

You can find a number of these articles at, but I personally prefer the old-school comfort of lounging on the front porch with a treebook copy and an iced hibiscus-lemon tea.

GIF image of a glass of iced tea with a red and white striped bendy straw and a slice of lemon on the rim.

How about you, Bookwyrms? What’s the most subversive/alternative magazine you’ve read? Ever tried foraging or RV travel? What’s your favorite crafty/culinary/athletic trend that started during the lockdowns (or did YOU start a trend)?

Next up: I review author/blogger Angélique Jamail’s new self-published zine, Sonic Chihuahua!


Iced tea GIF from tenor.


  1. I laughed, probably too loud, at the big reveal of the title and translation. Absolutely wonderful xD. Also, I don’t know that I’ve ever really been too big on magazines. (I know, I’m weird). But I will admit, I’m feeling kind of hooked. What are some of the feminist alt-Harry Potter and anti-racist book recs?

    • Thank you, thank you! *takes a bow*

      The Potter-esque book is called All Our Hidden Gifts, by Caroline O’Donoghue. It’s apparently a girl-focused boarding school mystery with “magical hijinks” and “intense teenage feelings,” and also queer characters and tarot cards. Lots of tarot cards.

      Some of the anti-racist recs are:

      * The Other Black Girl, by Zakiya Dalila Harris;
      * Island Queen, by Vanessa Riley;
      * The Black Friend, by Frederick Joseph;
      * and The Final Revival of Opal and Nev, by Dawnie Walton.

  2. When you mentioned foraging, I couldn’t help but have that fear of accidentally picking the toxic kinds. It was great to see that issue was addressed, as that was certainly a number one concern I had. That and spiders. Ever been out in the woods and seen and odd, red, fist-sized ball on the ground? Nest of spiders. Not a fruit. Run away. This has been pro-spider avoidance tips from Sarah!

    • Yikes, thanks for the pro tip! Maybe I’ll mention that to Alexis Nicole and she’ll do a video about it! 😁😨 Did you know that Queen Anne’s Lace (safe) doesn’t always have a red/purple dot in the middle? Which makes it extra tricky to tell apart from hemlock (a “tummy no-no”). 😱 Luckily, Alexis knows some good backup tells, like stem texture and leaves.

1/100th of an Altairian dollar for your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s