Who are you? Where are you based?
I’m Jolene Bandini and I reside in San Antonio, Texas.
What are zines to you?
Zines are self-expression to me, a means for anyone to get a message out there without having to go capitalistic routes to get the message in people’s hands.
What was your first encounter with zines?
My first encounter with zines was my friend Quinn’s zine “The Church on The Hill“, it is an absolutely real and raw look into strip clubs without all the glitz and glamour. I was totally inspired by it!
Tell me about your zines. What kind of zines do you make?
My zines are about my experience and perspective as a stripper in San Antonio. I had always made comics but I just never did anything with them. I finally started compiling work for swinktober (sex worker inktober) and my zine 1 is mostly comics I made during that. My zines are kind of dark and a little depressing honestly. Sex work isn’t glamorous, there’s a lot of pain in strip clubs, but there’s also a lot of hidden beauty. Not the kind of beauty you see on stage, we get fired if we don’t have that kind of beauty lol, but rather the beauty in the locker room; women supporting women despite the fact we’re all a little fucked up and some of us are literally whores. I honestly have never had the type of love and support from women that I get from my co-workers. It’s like this raw, unfiltered type of feminism. Not like the bullshit, pink beanie, feminism that’s trendy and nicely packaged, but rather a kind that makes people uncomfortable and leads them to ask “do you hate men” (A: not if they pay me not to 🙂 ) I wanted to write about the shit I experience in the club, I also shed light on many issues in our society such as rape culture.
What inspires you to create zines?
I feel really alone most of the time. I have battled depression my entire life but something about the adult industry is really alienating. It’s like we’re a bunch of lonely women alone together just making the best of shit. Making zines helps me compartmentalize much of my isolation and use it for good; they’ve also helped me really connect to people. The longer I’ve been creating I’m also inspired by seeing a need for representation. Sex workers deal with a huge amount of stigma, and that stigma will only stop killing us (literally and figuratively) if we began telling our stories.
What’s your favorite thing about zines?
The freedom they give people to say whatever the fuck they want!
Do you recall your first zine ever, what was it about and what inspired you to create it?
My Splendor and Travail volume 1, I had a lot of pent-up emotions, and was in a bad relationship-fling-thing and needed an outlet.
Tell me a little about your zine-making process.
I was a full-time pre-vet student when I began so I used blurb to have mine printed up until now! I just draw my shit out, scan it, and then use their software to fix the layout. Now that I’m basically done with school I’ll be using a Xerox machine and a long stapler.
What do you hope people get out of your zines?
I want people to understand the hard work and pain that goes into sex work. We’re not victims, but this gig definitely isn’t an easy way out either! I want people to better understand us, and I also wanna do my part to take down the patriarchy and I think to speak about sex work, rape culture, and womanhood the way I do if anything at least challenges the way people think about the patriarch.
Name two of your favorite zinesters.
I can’t!!! Too many good ones! My favorite zines are “in the land of make-believe and dress up” which is about an anarchist porn star in New York’s experience, and also “dirty clouds” which is a zine about consent.
Do you have any advice for new zinesters?
Don’t let people’s snide remarks or preconceived notions on what makes a zine prevent you from doing whatever the fuck you wanna do! The beauty of zines is they can be as simple or as complex as you want! It’s YOUR message, say what you wanna say! If people doubt you, tell them to kick rocks and come chat with me – we can encourage each other!
Is there a zine website or resource you would recommend new zinesters to check out?
I love Monkeywrench Books in Austin, Texas!
Jolene Bandini’s Links
Interview conducted by Solansh Moya
Pictures provided by Jolene Bandini