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INTERVIEW: Zine Queen Nicole Mazzeo

INTERVIEW: Zine Queen Nicole Mazzeo

There's nothing we love more than exploring the intersection of sex positivity and creativity. The activist creators that promote understanding around sexuality and gender acceptance are what makes this movement go 'round after all. One of the most steadfast and beloved mediums in this space is the zine- small self run publications that seek to entertain and inform within various subcultures. They're an art form and act of resistance all in one and we were thrilled to catch up with Nicole Mazzeo, creator behind Pleasure Pie and zine maker to learn about her path to the zine scene. 

Tell us a little about yourself!

I love zines and holidays and am fascinated by all things related to sexuality. I am terrible at memorizing things, but I even love reading the terms for obscure parts of genital anatomy (though I can't put into words why this is interesting to me). I make zines about sexuality, and run a small alternative sexuality education organization called Pleasure Pie, which is based in Boston. I'm from Boston, but right now I'm spending a while in Jerusalem.

How did you start? 

I started making sexuality zines a few years ago, when I had a bunch of ideas about messages that were important to me around sexuality and consent that I wanted to express somehow and share with the world. First, I wanted to make something that would help people understand consent and sexual interactions in a simple way, that would also be fun, so I made Choose Your Own Consensual Adventure, a choose-your-own-adventure style zine about communicating about consent. Once I made that zine and a few illustrations, I tabled at my first zine fest, which was an amazingly supportive experience. I came up with the name Pleasure Pie because the zine fest application asked for a name, so I decided to just come up with something. Then while I was tabling people kept asking, "So what's Pleasure Pie?" I was like, "Well it's just these zines," but then eventually I was like, "I guess it can be whatever I want it to be! So what do I want to be?" And I decided that I wanted to have events (I had a bunch of ideas I had a bunch of ideas for a sexuality related events that I thought would be interesting), and I had ideas for other publications, and a discussion group, and it grew from there.

What drew you to zines as a medium in the first place?

I started making zines when I was a little kid, before I head heard of them as a medium. I made magazines about my family where I interviewed our family dog, and made advertisements for the craft "store" that I ran out of our living room (among other things). So I think rather than deciding that zines are and ideal medium, it's really just that I love making zines, and always have.
I love how zines are unfiltered — they're not edited by a publishing company. They're the opposite of a corporate, focus-grouped publication. Because of that, they can sometimes be on the forefront of thought, since the time it takes to make a zine — from first coming up with the idea, to printing and distributing it — can be really short. You can get your ideas out into the world right away. I also love the way that they're personal. People will write stuff in zines that they won't usually tell to strangers. So, as a stranger to the zine maker, it's a cool opportunity to be allowed into their world.

The name Pleasure Pie kinda makes us hungry. What's behind this name?

I wanted a name that was fun, and maybe kind of sexy, but also vague enough that it could encompass anything that I wanted to make (if I made zines about topics other than sexuality). So I brainstormed words with positive connotations. That made me think of pie. Pretty much everyone likes pie; even if they don't actually like the dessert, they usually at least like the idea of it. Homemade, sweet, friendly. And then, once I was thinking about pie, the word pleasure just came to mind next, probably because of the alliteration.

Why is talking about sexuality something that is important to you?

I've had a lot of bad experiences with sexuality over my life, with problems caused by lack of information, and experiences with coercion and consent violations. A lot of struggles in my life would have been avoidable if I had received with better/any decent sex education. When I did eventually start having sex, I had so much to learn — about basic bodily functions, contraception, STIs, communication, expecting mutual respect, etc. I became fascinated with reading about sexuality and sex-positivity. Then, after a few years of reading and learning about it, I found that I had some things that I wanted to add to the conversation.

What would your advice to someone who is thinking about starting their own zine be?

Just do it! I like the phrase 'perfection is the enemy of good,' or something like that. If you have something that you want to share with the world, whether it's an idea or images or something else, just make it! It will resonate with someone. Just be honest and thoughtful with what you create. Also, I love handwritten zines, so I encourage everyone to hand write and cut and paste their zines. Because it adds a personal feel that really enhances the reading experience. 

Best thing you read lately? 

I loved the zine Utopia Is by Lily Xie, which is a short collage zine imagining a better world. It's touching. Here's a line from it: "Utopia is men loving flowers / men planting flowers."
Pssst Want to get some of Pleasure Pie's zines in your hot little hands? Check out their shop to support the work and to scoop up some positively charming Valentine's

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