MUDKISS FANZINE

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YOU CAN READ IT, STROKE IT, ITS A FLUFFY, ITS BUBBLEGUM SLUT ZINE - ITS AN INTERVIEW WITH ALISON B (EDITOR) BY MEL

Bubblegum Slut Zine was born in September 2000, a quarterly editorial, with its trademark fluffy heart adorning the cover and vivid artwork. Of course a familiar name to those of you well versed in trash, goth, punk, psychobilly, glam, sleaze, and raunchy rock n’ roll. The magazine is packed with diverse interviews, music and show reviews, interesting and informative features, delivered with passion, panache, and honest voice. On top of this inside is a free disc packed with music samplers. In issue 37 we find 21 bands such as Stark, Pretty Little Suicide, Kiria, The Bermondsey Joyriders all rubbing shoulders for £2.00 it’s a definite winner. Lets not forget interviews with Angie Bowie, Emile Autumn, Batusis, Semi Precious Weapons and lots more.

High praise was voiced by Rock Sound Magazine when they described the zine as “diverse, informed and extremely well-written... a shining example to fanzines everywhere”.

So without further ado it’s with great pleasure to introduce Mudkiss readers to the Chief at the helm, the Editor and creator Alison Bateman.

MEL: Where did the name Bubblegum Slut come from and why the fur fabric heart shaped cut out on the cover?

ALISON: Every time I’m asked this I wish I had a more interesting answer to give!  The zine name was hastily conceived the night that Issue 1 went to the printers (or rather the school photocopier, on which early issues were produced out of hours!).  The title seemed befitting of the time that Bubblegum Slut was born in - as I’m sure the above story about my first interview will attest - and almost as though it could be the title of the song by one of the bands I followed around the country in my teens – AntiProduct and Rachel Stamp – who dominated the pages of those early issues.
The fur hearts on the first issue were made from the offcuts of a project for my school textiles class, and it’s a unique touch which has stuck ever since.  Now the print run is must greater I do sometimes wonder if I’ve built a rod for my own back, snipping these things out, but it continues to make the zine stand out and gives it an almost fiercely physical format in the age of digital media domination.  It’s also a great selling point amongst beer-goggle sporting potential readers when I hock it round gigs (“well, even if you can’t read it right now – you can stroke it!”.  And how many mags can you say that of?).  Bubblegum Slut is not a glossy, it’s a fluffy

MEL: How did you find yourself editing a magazine, were you inspired by another doing similar at all?

ALISON: When I started Bubblegum Slut in 2000 nu-metal was at its peak.  I was a fifteen year old glam fan, born fifteen years too late. Pre-Motley Crue reunion, pre-Darkness and pre-Steel Panther the music I was listening to didn’t even get a look in on the pages of the mainstream music press in the context of an ‘ironic’ guilty pleasure!  So, since none of the glossies were writing about it I figured I would!

That said, the small press offered no shortage of inspiration at the time.  This was also in the days before zines appeared online in quite the numbers they do now, and while I’m the only one flogging a print zine at almost every gig I attend now, 10 years ago I’d typically find 2 or 3 other editors doing the same in any venue, on any night.  Two zines of the time that stand out as having had a big influence on Bubblegum Slut in terms of its content, design and attitude are Abaxis and the amazing Vagabond Hearts, both of which have sadly since stopped publishing. 

MEL: Being a little curious, but do you make much of a profit from the magazine or do you plough what you make into the next issue or other ventures?

ALISON: It’s a passion not a business so, honestly, I’ve never sat down to do the accounts.  But between income from sales, subscriptions, advertising and the highly valued contributions of a long-term reader who has been my own angel since he first helped me though some serious health and financial troubles a couple years back, Bubblegum Slut has always covered its printing, CD pressing and postage costs.

Financial profit it somewhat secondary to the other rewards of editing a zine though.  Were I devoting the time I spend on the zine to working a job I hate, I suspect a good percentage of the proceeds from my misery would be going on the same albums and gig tickets that the zine brings my way for free.  And then, more importantly, there are the ‘money can’t buy’ experiences Bubblegum Slut has given me – like spending a night in a haunted castle with Wednesday 13, a ghost hunter, and a half a dozen other writers as part of a label promo stunt, attending the Emap group’s annual Fanzine Awards two years running and having Vince Neil and Slash call my parents’ house – both interviews for another magazine, but one I would never had ended up writing for without first starting Bubblegum Slut.  Zines are a poor a profit-making vehicle, but if it’s a voyage of rock ‘n’ roll adventure you’re after they’re a fine vessel!

MEL: Seeing as you've been around much longer than Mudkiss would you like to shell out some special tips for a fellow Editor such as moi?

ALISON: At the risk of sounding cheesy, I reckon what sets zines apart from the mainstream, profit-driven music press, is the individuality of each one out there, and the sense that that the contents, attitude and appearance reflect the editor’s interests and ideas of what makes a good read, rather than a cookie-cutter business plan based around the principles that sensationalism sells copies and bowing to big-label backed new bands shifts ad space.  There isn’t a rulebook or formula for fanzines, and the best bit of advice I can come up with is to remember that and be as creative a format with no rules allows you to be!

I have written for nationally distributed glossies in the past, and I have had honest reviews sub-edited to show advertising labels’ artists in a better light, and features cut all together to create page space for editorial concerning advertisers.  For me, it’s reinforced the idea that a guiding principle in planning Bubblegum Slut’s content ought to be my own passion for a subject.  Zine’s being very personal though, that may not apply to all - and for someone going into this with a view to one day forging a career in publishing my advice is probably no good advice at all…

MEL: So you've been at the game for longer than most, and it's highly commendable that you have manage to remain true to your own particular style, what do you think has been the key factor in being around so long?

ALISON: I’d say Bubblegum Slut’s longevity is largely down to a lack of either planning or expectation!  Starting the zine on a whim at the age of 15 I never had a 10 year plan, a list of targets it should achieve or any firm idea of what it would one day be.  Instead of approaching the zine as a task and striving toward a goal (and potentially being disappointed and disheartened a long time ago) I’ve always let Bubblegum Slut develop very organically, one issue at a time.  Not starting with any expectations beyond the first issue I’ve taken every success, memorable interview and compliment the zine has attracted as something of a pleasant surprise!  Basically, Bubblegum Slut is still going because in 10 years it hasn’t yet had the chance to get boring or turn into another task.

MEL: Do you think you will continue for say another 10 years, or do you have other ideas for the future?

ALISON: Perhaps a little worryingly, I’m no more inclined to plan for the future these days than I was 10 years ago.  I can tell you what’s set to appear in the immediate next issue if you like… beyond that though Bubblegum Slut will continue for as long as I find it interesting and can find the inspiration to fill issues!

MEL: I know you promote live shows and manage a couple of bands such as The Bermondsey Joyriders can you tell our readers a little bit about this angle?

ALISON: I don’t actually manage The Bermondsey Joyriders (or any other bands), I just do PR for them, and for London independent label Koochie Coo Records.  The Joyriders approached me after I wrote a couple articles about them in Bubblegum Slut last year, which they felt really captured what the band is about.  I’d never really considered it before, but having previously helped a friend out by organizing some press for a Warrior Soul tour she was promoting, and having a reasonable amount of contacts for alternative and underground media I said I’d give it a go.  10 months later I’m still working with them and have begun working with Koochie Coo as a result of the job with the Joyriders.

I don’t regularly promote live shows – Bubblegum Slut’s10th birthday bash at the Gaff in September is a one-off, since decade in print seemed a good enough excuse to throw one helluva party!

MEL: Not only do you produce a magazine it comes with a free cd, how did this idea come to fruition and indeed where do you start with this idea?

ALISON: I put out a couple Bubblegum Slut compilation CDs back when the zine still took a cut ‘n’ paste photocopied format (pre-2004 / Issue 16), which were sold separately at £3 a time, rather than coming free with an issue.  One of these ending up being perhaps the only label-less CD-R ‘release’ to ever gain a 4K review in Kerrang!, after I met then-Kerrang! scribe Brett Callwood at a gig one night and gave him a copy.  Brett and I stayed in touch and he’s contributed a column to the zine sine 2005.

The free compilations that now come with every issue were trialled in 2007 with Issue 25 and, with sales of that issue going up, they’ve stayed and are now almost always over-subscribed with bands wanting to appear!

MEL: Do you have a daytime job? If so how do you find the time to do it all? I know sometimes I feel the stress and think I can't carry on working a full time job and managing a site and all the networking that goes with it. How do you cope with it, how do you switch off?

ALISON: I do several part-time and freelance jobs, and although that means I’m constantly busy, I just about manage to maintain my sanity as everything I do work-wise is inter-related to a degree, while being varied enough that it doesn’t get tedious.  Aside from editing the zine I work as a staff writer for regional listings paper London Tourdates, do PR for The Bermondsey Joyriders and Koochie Coo Records’ artists and flyer the streets of London most evenings for a couple gig promoters – which is actually a welcome opportunity to get outside and away from the PC after a day on the other jobs! 

With everything I do in terms of work relating to live music it is almost impossible to entirely separate work and social life, so totally switching off is tough.  I enjoy my work though so I don’t see this as the problem it might be were I in an office counting down the minutes everyday and wanting to run as far from the day job as possible every time the clock struck 5pm!

MEL: Who was your first person you interviewed and was it for Bubblegum Slut?

ALISON: Mine, and Bubblegum Slut’s, first interview was with Alex Kane (then and now of AntiProduct - formerly of Life, Sex, Death / Clam Abuse), at Bedford Esquires in September 2000. 

For the same reasons it could be considered a not too auspicious start in the world of rock journalism, it could also be considered to set the tone for Bubblegum Slut’s take on that world ever since.  The interview took place after a gig; I was 15 and much the worse for a substantial amount of own brand bourbon snuck past security, while Alex was bleeding from a nasty head wound - his party piece at the time being to bash himself in the face with the microphone during shows.  That particular night he’d also somehow blown the power on stage, cutting AntiProduct’s set short. The morning after the interview I woke up somewhere in North London with a vague recollection of blagging a lift there, and blagging my way into Decadence with some equally underage friends.  In the meantime, my parents had put me on the missing persons register.  The timeline would say that Bubblegum Slut was born about a month later, when I was no longer grounded and started selling copies of the first issue at gigs, but quite possibly the zine was really born that night in Bedford.

 

MEL: What is your most favourite interview out of the 10 years of the Magazine?

ALISON: I don’t think I could narrow it down to one, the following would definitely make the top ten though; Justin Hawkins (wonderfully honest and self-deprecating, despite the amount of media training he must have received by the time I met him post-Darkness), Jayne County (witty, welcoming and frighteningly smart – if our chat wasn’t curtailed by the fact she was due onstage imminently I could’ve listen to this lady all night!), the late, great Nikki Sudden who spoke to Bubblegum Slut at what was sadly his last ever UK show, Lydia Lunch, Emilie Autumn, Angie Bowie and Zodiac Mindwarp, on all the numerous occasions Bubblegum Slut has verbally sparred with him.  According to his management Zed really likes the zine, although all I’ve got to go on is their word and the fact that, via management, he keeps requesting another interview – or ‘rematch’!  Face-to-face he’s been a routinely ‘difficult’, if very entertaining, interviewee!

MEL: Who would you love to get yer mitts on for an interview?

ALISON: Ian Hunter, Iggy, Poison Ivy, Lemmy and Nick Cave are all near the top of a long list of dream interviews.  I’ve also love to speak to Steve Dior one more time.

MEL: London is the hub of Bubblegum Sluts editorial if someone was planning a trip to London what places would you recommend for a great day or night out and are there any bands you'd highly recommend we keep an eye out for?

ALISON: The Gaff (where Bubblegum Slut’s 10th birthday bash takes place) and Big Red on Holloway Road are my regular London locals. If they weren’t within stumbling distance of once another and home there’s a good chance I’d suffer less hangovers and put out each issue of Bubblegum Slut a little faster!

Otherwise in terms of nightlife I’d recommend The 12 Bar any night and regular club nights Gypsy Hotel (blues-‘billy-burlesque-freakshow fun once a month) and Festival of Sins (bi-monthly arty-gothic-high-camp hi-jinx).

During the day – go to Camden for shopping at London’s only dedicated punk store All Ages Records, and fabulous vegan food by the canal at Inspiral Lounge.  Or catch one of the city’s two rollerderby leagues in action on a Saturday afternoon – it’s a safe bet that I’ll be in Bethnal Green for each and every London Rockin’ Rollers home game! 

As for London acts to recommend, current favourites include The Rotting Hill Gang, The Duel, Strangefruit, The Dogbones, The Peckham Cowboys, Pink Cigar and The Skuzzies.

MEL: And finally Sept 25th sees you celebrating 10 years in print with a big birthday bash - tell our readers why it is essential that they attend.

ALISON: Well, for starters it’s rare for zines to make a decade, so don’t count on getting an invite to another birthday party of this sort for sometime! 

From 7pm we’ve got five favourite Bubblegum Slut bands live on stage – Achilla, Evil Beaver, Zen Motel, The Duel and The Bermondsey Joyriders, who for one night only feature a guest member who starred in the first ever issue of Bubblegum Slut!  Then from midnight Reckless Love join the party, as we host the official aftershow for their Relentless Garage headline the same night.

Get down early and get one of 25 party bags (what 10th birthday would be complete without them?) stuffed with CDs and other goodies, and get a slice of birthday cake on us all night!  Get your ticket in advance and get it all for £6.50 – what more do you want?! 

Tickets available at www.ticketweb.co.uk (search ‘Bubblegum Slut’) and from the PayPal Storefront at www.myspace.com/bubblegumslutzine . Shameless plug ends. ;o)

Many thanks Alison it’s been great interviewing a fellow Editor, fascinating stuff, keep up the good work and good luck with your 10th Anniversary party – wish I could be there!!

Interview by Mel 19/08/10
Photos/images provided by Alison