Sunny Andersen opens her magazine to a centerfold of a Japanese punk band and points to a small inset photo of the singer, who is depicted hoisting up the balloon breasts of a dancer and grinning like a fool.
"He's the Japanese Peter Fonda!" Sunny exclaims.
The band in question is called Guitar Wolf, the breasts belong to Russ Meyer star Kitten Natividad, and the magazine is Girlyhead, a brand-new zine combining the best elements of Road and Track, Tiger Beat, and vintage mags from the '40s and '50s. The cover, by Frank Kozik, screams with bright reds and yellows, accentuating a topless woman in go-go boots who leans over the open hood of a car.
Begun initially as a joke around the office of Gearhead magazine, the oil-stained ode to cars and punk rock published by Sunny's boyfriend, Mike LaVella, Girlyhead has ended up as a legitimate spinoff, a Gearhead for the ladies. (Despite the centerfold balloon breasts, it's the boys who take center stage here, all of 'em shown to us tongue-in-cheek as Cassidy-esque teen idols.) Not only is the staff primarily female, so are most of the advertisers, promoting chick-positive bands such as Fur, April March, the Groovie Ghoulies, the Red Aunts, or the Phenobarbidols. Each issue will feature a cutout paper doll of a powerful female (this one is Brigitte Bardot), an article about a girl and her car (film critic Zena Jones and her '64 Cadillac), a dopey Tiger Beat-style interview with musicians ("How can a girl who's lost her reputation get it back?"), a recipe from a guy who cooks (barbecue tips from the band Gas Huffer), and a favorite pet (pug dogs). The paper dolls in particular are time-intensive; this weekend, Editor/Art Director Sunny is hosting a stapling party for friends to come over and help insert 3,000 Bardots before the mags are shipped to the distributors.
Girlyhead is nostalgic to a degree, but what isn't these days, when you think about it? Even on-line Web magazines hire '50s-style illustrators to help give them some soul. But mixed among the cribbed layouts and stolen photos are very, shall we say, contemporary themes, such as the onset of vicious diarrhea detailed in a rock 'n' roll tour diary by a member of the Trashwomen, easily one of the magazine's most memorable pieces. It's oddly comforting to discover that all-girl rock bands would contract "the Hershey squirts" while drinking their way through Europe and Japan.
Girlyhead hopes to publish twice a year, if there's time to squeeze it in among all of Sunny's other projects. By day, she's a producer at the Earwax audio studios; at night, she designs layout pages for Gearhead, helps filmmaker Sarah Jacobson finish her next feature, and works on finishing her own film about 1950s burlesque dancers. And on the weekends, you can find her working at Grooves, the vintage record store (on Market, near It's Tops) owned by her parents, who created hippie light shows for Fillmore concerts back in the Dark Ages.
But this July Fourth weekend will find Sunny and several boxes of Girlyhead at the ComicCon comics convention in San Diego, peddling her brand-new baby as part of the "Kill Zinesters Tour," a summer-long Winnebago excursion across the United States by publishers of Bunnyhop, Ben Is Dead, and Genetic Disorder.
"It's a cute, fluff magazine," she says, promising no heavy feminist politics, just a "domestic attitude, but powerful." In other words, it's OK to play with paper dolls and wear makeup, as long as the guy cooks you dinner before going out for a romantic evening at the mosh pit. And if he's real lucky, you might make him wear a pair of your official domestic-yet-powerful Girlyhead panties, emblazoned with the logo of two '50s girls driving in a convertible.
If you can't find a copy at Naked Eye or Farley's, try sending $3.50 to Girlyhead Productions, PO Box 423657, San Francisco, CA 94142.
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