Cover art from W.i.g. Magazine by Shino Arihara
A timely story for International Women’s Week is the announcement that W.i.g. Magazine -for [Fierce] Women in General, is back. Some of you may remember W.i.g. Magazine from 1995 -the first little ‘zine to hit newsstands covering women in action sports, rock climbing, dance, art, music, alternative fashion, craftiness, poetry, car culture, and lots of super inspiring young women doing it for themselves. At the time, this little magazine, which Label Networks’ co-founder Kathleen Gasperini launched “out of frustration with the lack of good girl mags to read” proved to be way ahead of itself, creating leaders of a movement that inspired other girls to spin their own titles, such as Fresh & Tasty, Bitch, Bust, and more contemporary mags such as MissBehave.
With stories ranging from a much-popularized self-abortion piece by Ms. Inga Muscio to Holly Morris trekking Cuba, to pro snowboarders such as Michele Taggart, full-moon surfing by Monique Cole, and loads of poets, artists, and writers like Lisa Bessolo, Billy Miller, and Joe Donnelley, W.i.g. Magazine caught on like wildfire for a fierce crop of female (and male) fans. When Aleta Reese created W.i.g. Comix and the introduction of Vespula, an insect-like heroine that stung-out evil (one prick at a time), the publication was elevated to cult-comic status, meanwhile gaining kudos among photographers and artists for amazing images by Cheryl Dunn, Dawn Kish, and Rachel Photenhauer, and their documentaries from Iceland, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The magazine went from 500 copies to 50,000 in its short 5-year lifecycle.
Cover art by Joe Sorren.
Why revive W.i.g. online some 15 years later? “In a way, it never really went anywhere just got stuffed into my back closet -those few precious issues,” explains Founder and Editor, Kathleen Gasperini. “As life rolled on, I got writing, producing, and researching for things that actually paid.”
What was great about W.i.g. Magazine was that it was always a little controversial. “When we first walked the trade shows such as SIA and even ASR with our little mock-up to generate interest, people thought we were a lesbian magazine (although we didn’t care who read our magazine) since we covered women in action sports,” explains Gasperini. “Today people can’t believe it, but that’s how things were back then. On another occasion, my printer shut us down from an image we wanted to run with our profile on singer Diamanda Galas -she was on a cross, sort of like Jesus Christ, which we thought was a good representation of her work.”
Ironically, that picture got the ACLU involved in a David and Golith-like battle between W.i.g., with the help of the ACLU, and the big-bad printer, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and provided W.i.g. Magazine with major national press. “Larry Flynt’s company was considering buying us, but ended up buying Big Brother instead. Not that we were that bummed,” says Gasperini sardonically.
Funny thing is, if ever there was a time for W.i.g., it’s now. There’s a need for a place that taps into women’s culture, giving you the real dish on active lifestyles, art, music, vids, books, and DIY girl style. Ask any Wigger (former readers of W.i.g.) and they will tell you, it’s more than a mag or a website: W.i.g. is an addiction that speaks to so many of us because it comes from true voices of women doing it for themselves.
How can you not be stoked on a publication that says their purpose is to ” encourage thoughts and ideas among women and men by becoming a forum for discussion, inspiration, shared wisdom, and adventure in the arts, music, sports, and women’s culture. Here, you’ll find passionate tales of women musicians, alternative sports athletes, environmentalists, book readers, DJs, bike messengers, videographers, motocrossers, Vespa-lovers, alt fashion designers, and more. Add in an animated female comic heroine, and you’ve got the world of W.i.g.”
W.i.g. Comix, Tales of a Muse in Revolt. Artwork by Aleta Reese.
Future plans include “sprinkling in some of our old, classic pieces with the new,” continues Gasperini. “I’m working on a How-To Snowboard Guide right now, and of course, editing a typical W.i.g.-type controversial story from one of my writers that I can’t talk about just yet, and a bunch more comix, which we may spin-off into merch eventually.”
Plans for WigMag.com also include expanding into other media forums, including video interviews (several posting soon), documentaries (they’ve done 1 if you want to check it out), and an online mini series “sort of like Felicia Day’s “WatchtheGuild” which is just genius,” says Gasperini.
As if a sign of the times, WigMag.com’s relaunch comes complete with the launch of its own iPhone app on iTunes (WigMag). “We couldn’t just launch online without taking into account mobile platforms right off the bat,” explains Gasperini. “Plus, I work at a technologically advanced company, Label Networks -we know how to build this kind of thing. It’s natural.”
As for W.i.g., “This time, instead of doing print first, we’ll re-launch the print version last.”
WigMag iPhone app.