Hannah Neurotica sat down with the poet, feminist activist, humor writer, and zinester Brianna Stallings for an interview about her experiences with reproductive health and zine making.
Hannah: How did you first discover zines?
Brianna: I discovered zines through music. The band Hole was like a gateway drug for me; it led to so many other things, including punk rock, Riot Grrrl and zines. By sophomore year of high school, I was skipping class to hang out in the drama department and read A Girl’s Guide to Taking over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution. I carried that book around with me everywhere.
Hannah: What was it like making your very first zine?
Brianna: The first zine I ever made was called “Dolly Vashti.” I made it in my senior year of high school. It was chock full of stick figure doodles, collage art, and extraordinarily bad poetry. Things in it were both typed and handwritten. I compiled it both at home and at school, but copied the whole thing at school. Even though it was just a little thing distributed amongst friends, it felt liberating to share my work with people in that way, and to also think of myself as a part of something bigger than me. I was a zinester, like all the awesome people I’d been learning about.
Hannah: How did you first discover Planned Parenthood?
Brianna: I had heard of Planned Parenthood in passing, but started actively using their services when I was in college, had no insurance, got pregnant and had an abortion. That was in December of 1999.
Hannah: What was it like writing a zine about having an abortion? Why was the act of making a zine about that experience important for you?
Brianna: On the night that I sat down and wrote about my abortion, I didn’t know that it would result in a zine. All I knew was that I had been carrying around a lot of complex emotions as a result of the experience, and that they all finally needed to be addressed. It wasn’t until about a while later that I put it together as a zine.
Hannah: Has anyone contacted you or talked about abortion with you because of your zine?
Brianna: I have reached out to others with my zine after I discovered their stories. For example, I contacted Penny Lane, the director of the excellent documentary, “The Abortion Diaries.” It’s a really powerful direct film; I highly recommend it.
Hannah: If someone asked you how PP and zines could possibly go together what would you say?
Brianna: Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger. She wrote pamphlets about puberty and adolescent sexuality, as well as motherhood. She also created a magazine called “The Birth Control Review and Birth Control News,” which came out every month. She was a DIY maverick, much like the many people who share honest, painful, uncomfortable, and very necessary stories in the form of zines.
Hannah: What are five tips you would give to someone who was intimidated to make their first zine?
-Learn, search and share.
-There is no right way.
-Say what you have to say because you absolutely have to say it.
-Know your history and then become part of it.
Hannah: Will you be submitting to the Planned Parenthood Zine Anthology?
Brianna: Absolutely! I think it’s important to continue to share my story, to encourage other people to share their stories about Planned Parenthood, and to keep supporting this vital organization.