Wednesday, 18 November 2009


So, we moved a while ago over to wordpress, but seem to still be ironing out how to get feeds etc. If you're still linking to this blog, please weigh in with comments over on our new one at or

And you can also now friend us on facebook, which we update with gigs and new stuff.



Friday, 2 October 2009

We're in the news, and we've moved!

Hello! If you're still following this page, head on over to where my blog and website have chosen to cohabit at the same address out of wedlock.

Also, check out some groovy coverage we just got in The Guardian.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

New blog, now with wings!

If, metaphorically, wings are additional pages and shiny things and stuff. I'm moving the blog over to wordpress, and combining it with our old website, thanks to the tireless efforts of my cousin Rick, who understands such things.

It's still in the works, but all the old posts are there, and will soon be joined by some new ones, so please reset your um... feeds? links? apps? to:

Thank you! (And thanks to blogger for starting me off with shiny buttons I understood!)


Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Berlin continues!

We had a great weekend at Ladyfest, where we met loads of amazing people and heard some awesome bands. (More details to follow!) We're co-organizing another event with Lady Gaby (who contributed to Adventures in Menstruating #4) tomorrow night - details are below - please forward and repost to anyone you know in Berlin! :) I had the great pleasure of meeting Brittany Shoot yesterday, and I'm really psyched that there will actually be four contributors reading at the same event!


Vintage Women – Reclaiming Time!
Wednesday 22 July 2009
14:00 until late
20:00 Doors open for evening performances
Lady Gaby presents @
Wonderbar Wienerstr 45. Berlin XBERG
Entry: Suggested donation 2 euro

Daytime Workshops:
Adventures in Menstruating on 50s adverts – deconstructing the media and creating your own spoof ads; Gender stereotypes – subverting oppression through comedy exploration of representation.

24 Hour Zine Thing – Create your own zine response with ad collages and captions using materials provided or vintage ads/images/text you bring. The completed zine will be available to trade or buy on the night as part of July’s International Zine Month!

Coffee, cakes, brownies, cookies and treats at 1950s prices!
Swap shop: bring vintage clothing and accessories to trade and share! Fabric pens available for quick modifications – bring your own sewing supplies/ribbon if you’ve got some!

Knitters and crocheters welcome!

DJing by Mary from The Baby Cheeses

Evening - Doors open 8 pm – Comedy sketches, poetry and spoken word from Lady Gaby, Adventures in Menstruating’s Chella Quint and Sarah Thomasin, Brittany Shoot and more!
Live Music from The Hairy Marys!
Retro set by DJ Girl Detective

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Ladyfest Berlin!

Annual rather than monthly but just as predictably unpredictable and well-loved - Ladyfest Berlin is back under it's newish guise LaD.I.Y.fest Berlin.

Schedule and all other details are here.

Hit us up by email or on the facebook if we should look out for you - we'll be there from Saturday!


Monday, 6 July 2009

Skids Pads, Viral Ads...and AWESOME comments sections.

I have a minor addiction to the Guardian G2 Shortcuts section and quick crossword. Yes, they're available online, but as a zine writer, I need it in print form. Today's dose included Kira Cochrane's account of a viral ad campaign about masculine hygiene products by, um, one of my competitors. It's getting a bit freaky how closely feminine hygiene product advertising seems to be echoing our comedy sketches lately. Have we tapped into the zeitgeist? Or are their marketing departments just very thorough? If it's the latter, "Hi there, marketing department researchers. Thanks for stopping by. I think." (Waves nervously.)

I did these ads for the launch of issue 3 of Adventures in Menstruating, and they've been around ever since at our live comedy shows, which feature various riffs on 'pads for men' ads.

You may enjoy my own contribution to the viral internet canon, which, like the other Skids stuff, went live in August 2007. Thanks to Cakebread Illustrations for offering to make the website after seeing our show in Berlin. Stay tuned for further additions.

In the meantime, please enjoy the fantastically hilarious comments on today's G2 article. Now Mooncup really know how to do viral.

Time flies. Issue 4 is due another reprint, and we're back in Berlin on 18 July.


Monday, 15 June 2009

Meanwhile, back in menstrual superhero land...

One word:


You heard it here first.


Thanks to Brittany Shoot for the link.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Come see us!

Hey! So...we're gonna be at the Bradford Zine Fayre on our first anniversary, which is the 21st of June. We reckon since it's our paper anniversary, that's pretty cool! We'll be tabling, doing a workshop, and reading. Join us if you can.

Big thanks to Joel for inviting us, and for giving a shout out to Ye Olde English.


Friday, 5 June 2009

The Great Red Spot of Jupiter, huh?

My writing buddy, Rich, sent me this link today - it's a doodle done on paint (it appears), in a seemingly hurried and off-the-cuff sort of way. It's surprisingly accurate, though. (More accurate than Sarah's vague paint rendition of US geography, which is hilarioius and she has allowed me to disclose this here.) I'm disturbed by the Langoliers*, but their presence makes sense.

I LOVE the real photocheck of Jupiter because I'm a complete astronomy geek. The way Buzzfeed (which I've never looked at before but seems like an excellent procrastination tool to add to my inexaustible supply) works seems to involve an elaborate system of tagging - I count mostly LOLs but only one CUTE, with quite a few WTFs and, sadly, too many EWs (and one TRASHY, which seems a bit of a stretch, to me...).

Anyone want to do a definitive work on this with a Venn diagram and everything?


*The 'chompers' look remarkably similar to the Steven King bad guys from the film version of the book. They eat leftovers, so I suppose it's fair enough, but that film scared the crap out of me.

PS. Edited to add that we're both really curious about the artist! We'd like to give credit we're credit is due and neither Rich nor I could find the source. :) So yeah, answers on a postcard, please.

Thursday, 4 June 2009


We're going to Berlin! 17 - 27 July! We'll be there for Ladyfest and will probably do some more readings and stuff there the following week. Stay tuned. (And get in touch if you will be in Berlin and want to collaborate.)


Wednesday, 3 June 2009

I'm taking it as a compliment.

"You were the funnest person I've met in a toilet for ages."

I was recently chatting to that girl I met in the toliet a couple of months ago, and this was her parting comment.

That's good, right?


Monday, 1 June 2009


The London Zine Symposium was fantastic. Met great people, saw some beautiful work, and loved loved loved reading with a cadre of funny and intelligent fellow zinesters. I'd tour with those guys. It rocked!

At the moment I'm working on Robyn's Egg: A child's Introduction to Menstruation (which I think I've mentioned before), and two companion children's books, which is taking some honing of my rusty illustration skills. The other two books are 'Rocket to the Moon' (tampons as improvised toys and craft supplies) and 'How Does Your Friend Make You Feel' (a colouring and activity book based on menstrual euphemisms that I think might also make a good creative writing/comic workshop - stay tuned).

I'm also in the middle of developing my guide to sanitary disposal units: The SDU and YOU: Public Inconveniences. Stay tuned for the results of interviews with industry insiders!

We're looking at summer plans and should have a couple of events lined up soon.


Monday, 27 April 2009

London Zine Symposium this Sunday!

We'll be there doing some live readings from Adventures in Menstruating #4. Details can be found at the website, and there's also a facebook group.

The London Zine Symposium is a lot of fun - there are always groovy people to hang out with, sexy vegan snacks to eat (in 2007 there was vegan 'cheese' cake that I will never forget) and beautiful handmade and/or self-published zines and books to browse, trade for or buy.

Throughout the day there will be readings and workshops.

12-6, The Rag Factory, London.


Friday, 17 April 2009

I Love New York

Last week I was lucky enough to be in New York having a whale of a time over Passover and Easter. At the start of the week, I arrived at my parents' house in NJ to find two awesome parcels waiting for me from Niku and Sage containing copies of Niku's collage zine I'd contributed to and my cycle girl on badges made by Sage. As I was getting ready for the readings later in the week, I found out it was Joanne Morton of the FCW network's birthday on the day of the reading, which gave me the idea to do the reading as a kind of an Adventures in Menstruating #4 launch party with goody bags, which I had great fun putting together with my best friend Matt the night before. They were little red paper bags tied with ribbon and contained a red ball and jacks, two red lollipops, and a badge among other bits and pieces and flyers. He also made a t-shirt for me with iron-on letters that spelled out 'Menarche Now!' - the slogan from Sarah's story in Adventures in Menstruating #2. Toys in Babeland donated a gift set including a reusable shopping bag (which gives the bearer 10% off every future purchase), vibrator, lube, and (most importantly) batteries, and my brother got me some classy chocolate-covered matzah. It was super cool having an all-male send off for my comedy menstrual gig, actually. And thus, a party was born.

My friend James read a really sweet intro and then helped me raffle off the t-shirt and the Toys in Babeland bag to raise some money for Bluestockings, and the menstrual comedy fans were really generous. It was a great atmosphere at the reading - a really warm and enthusiastic crowd, and (since I was only there for a few days) served as a welcome and a farewell for my flying visit. I was really psyched that Microcosm's Sparky got to NYC in time to attend because we'd never had the chance to meet in person before and she's really friendly! Huge props to long-time supporter Jenna from Radical Reference and the Barnard Zine Library who's attended the Bluestockings readings a few times now, and all the staff working that night for joining in and making me feel so at home.

Later that night (after a karaoke, pineapple juice and rum-themed send-off) at The Living Theatre I read some more on my own and also with a fellow baseball-loving, Doctor Who geek college pal. It seemed like a great small venue - I'd recommend it and will most likely head back there again to see other work. I met awesome people at both readings, including another woman who had a women's health-super-hero-alter-ego, some radical teachers, and wicked cool readers who were already familiar with the zines and well-versed in the menstrual hi jinks.

The next morning I finished the triptych with a visit to the anarchist bookfair where I donated zines to the Sex Workers Outreach Project and traded some more for some vegan chocolate peanut butter cups and screenprinted speculum stencil patches. I also got chatting with lovely people visiting from Wooden Shoe Books in Philly, who were the first shop to ever carry my zine, and picked up some info from Books Through Bars, ABC No Rio, and Teaching for Change (got a book of radical lesson plans).

Zines I picked up (awesomely, all trades, actually):

For the Mobile Menstrual Zine Library:

Where Have all the Placentas Gone?

Herbal Abortion: A Woman’s DIY Guide

What Your Momma (or your doctor or your teacher or anybody) Never Told You About Your Period

Girl Fuck - An Introduction to Girl on Girl Lovin'

I also got Dave Roche's newest zine, About My Disappearance 2, because he's awesome and I miss him but I hear he's having a whale of a time in Australia right now so I can't complain.

More details to follow on those zines as I read them.

This update was written while listening to old skool Rutgers zinester Rebecca’s set at The Core FM.

The new issue and all back issues are currently in stock at Bluestockings and Microcosm, and will soon be available at Erin's new distro.

I'll leave you with the Bluestockings bathroom - a joy to behold with a bathroom book, artwork, lots of space, an awesome minimalist bucket sink (you'll have to visit to see that part - it's inspired) and, if you're that way inclined, a hand-rolled cigarette lovingly left in the toilet-roll basket. Crazy.

I'll post more when the ridiculously long-winded jet lag of doom wears off.


Friday, 10 April 2009

Adventures in Menstru-reading

See what I did there?

I'm reading tonight at Bluestockings Bookstore, NYC, at 7 pm with the new issue of the zine. It's all gone a bit launch party styley and there'll be treats and goodybags with vouchers and raffle prizes.

Later tonight (at 10:40, to be exact) I'm reading at the Anarchist Bookfair's Arts Night at The Living Theatre. Somehow I'm on the poster as simply 'menstruation'. Not Adventures in Menstruating, not Chart Your Cycle, not Chella Quint... I am amazed and impressed that the event coordinators and poster designers consider the simple act or concept of garden variety menstruation itself enough of a draw to give it billing.

Hope to see you tonight!


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Who knew Trey Parker and Matt Stone had their collective finger on THIS pulse?

This is a quote from our website:
Why is menstruation funny?

Um...for the same reasons a lot of other stuff is funny.

It's a taboo subject - the shock of it all always gets a giggle right away and, immature or not, the gross-out factor is still fun. It's the new fart joke. You wait and see.

And then I watched the most recent episode of South Park, which was awesome.

Here's a you tube link to the song at the end of the episode, since UK readers can't stream it, thanks to an irritating contract issue. I think, as usual, they've pretty much nailed it.


Saturday, 4 April 2009

Prop THIS.

Adventures in Menstruating #4 will be available from next week and I've decided to dedicate it to the people who legalized gay marriage in Iowa. Come on, federal government, keep up.

Bluestockings gets its period

Our favourite bookstore had better break out the Diva cups for a week of menstrual mayhem with not one but two menses-themed events.

First up is Rachel Kauder Nalebuff reading from her collection of menarchic anecdotes,
My Little Red Book, tonight. If you're in the area, go and check her out. Sadly, I'll still be in the UK, busy printing and packing issues of AIM #4 for my own trip to NY next week but I'll be there in spirit, Menarche Now! style.

To complete the menstrual cycle this Friday, I'll actually be at Bluestockings myself, with some comedy readings to launch Adventures in Menstruating #4. Join me for curious advertising and design trends, masculine hygiene products and more vintage ads.
Both readings begin at 7 pm and are free, although donations to the awesome Bluestockings team are always welcome.

Two menstrual readings in one week? Mad props to the Bluestockings gang: That's more than most bookstores manage in a lifetime.


Friday, 3 April 2009

Meta Meta Meta

I think it's silly how pleased I am, but feel free to weigh in on this one yourselves -

Die Wunderbare Welt Des Wissens
seems to be a blog of musings, events and things that caught the blogger's eye. It's certainly a Wonderful World of something, but I don't think my unintentional contribution showed particular wisdom...maybe just cheekiness.

I take a lot of pictures of the excellent Berlin graf every summer, and post them around on facebook and google photo and stuff...but it turns out I've now come full circle.

Thanks to my friend John who took a rubbish little doodle of mine and Illustrator-ed it into oblivion. It's such a shame we won't get to use it agan, so I'm really glad it lives in sticker form, in Berlin, where we spent part of our lovely honeymoon.

It's a shame one person felt the need to comment with, simply, 'Urgs.'

But it's nice to see that a different commenter has written a reply that's pretty right on in any language: "What's your problem? It's only natural." (Thank you, Sarah, for your fast and loose tranlations.)

Thursday, 2 April 2009


Anyone know who designed it? It's amazing where you can allow yourself to see tampons while you're editing the next issue of your menstrual comedy zine.

Correction, I guess...It's amazing where I can allow myself to see tampons while I'm editing the next issue of my menstrual comedy zine.

I just finished the cover and it's in for printing.

We've got an interesting new sponsor, as well - whole back cover ad!


Sort of.

By anyway, that's where I've been the past couple of days I should have been posting.


Friday, 27 March 2009


I met a woman in the toilet.

I know what you're thinking.

But you're wrong.

What happened was...

...ok I know what you're now thinking....

and you're still wrong. (Thank you, Laura, other woman I just met in the pub.)


Seriously, I'm out at the pub with some friends and we're all having a laugh over my ineptitude at keeping quiet about menstruation.

I just can't help myself. It's like a disorder.

What happened was, I met a girl who asked to share my table, but the seat was taken. Then I happened to go to the toilet at the same time as she did, three times. It went: awkward looks in mirror as we were both surprised to see each other again, embarrassed apology on our second meeting for denying her a table, and finally, friendship. She saw me again and said, 'Wow! We've synchronized!'

Readers of Adventures in Menstruating #3 may remember my concerns about what to say about menstrual synchronization. It's a whole other ballpark when it's toilet synchronization. We're now friends, I think. She works for an organization that gives kids free bikes. One day soon, I'll explain to her about the zine, and why I nearly exploded with laughter in her face at 'Wow! We've synchronized!'

Last weekend I was in the public toilet at the newly refurbished theatre in town, and got into a very long and loud conversation with some cool old ladies about the width of the cubicles finally meeting their approval.

"I wrote in," said one. "The old toilets were too narrow for my mature backside! I'm glad they finally listened," she beamed.

Mature backside one, Historically cramped public inconveniences - zero.

I'm going to have to find a swift and sensible way to explain why I tend to loiter in public toilets and strike up conversations though.


Wednesday, 25 March 2009


So, in our quest for ever stupider content, Sarah and I have been doing some fart-joke style menstrual riffing. Proper lowest common denominator stuff. That's your disclaimer.

I mentioned to Sarah that I wanted to come up with some new menstrual euphemisms - just for fun - no stigma attatched but more for vocabularic variety. There are fabulous metaphors for masturbation, defecation and all the other -ations that come out of your body, but menstrual metaphors all seem very negative and 1950s to us.

Her suggestion: When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along - I laughed and laughed. Then we looked up the song and realised it was sung by Doris Day (we love Doris Day), mentioned throbbing, and was about feeling positive. Why not specifically period positive, we say.

Sarah: Hey, Chella, my Red Red Robin just came Bob Bob Bobbin' along. Have you got a tampon?

Chella: What a coincidence. My 99 Red Balloons have just gone by and and I've still got a pad in my bag.
(Only the English version of that song works, by the way, and could have some straw-grasping interpretations about male panic about menstruation rather than an impending invasion.)

In more sensible news, Sarah's poem was posted on Feminist Review today. For her efforts, she's won a quite cool looking book. Another winner, Erika Mikkalo, wrote a poem that reminded me of the Radio 4 programme I mentioned the other week about feminists being funny: Call Yourself A Feminist.

Do send us newphemisms.


Tuesday, 24 March 2009

My Aunt Flo would be proud.

I'm starting a new category of posts: things that sound like menstrual euphemisms, could be menstrual euphemisms, but aren't menstrual euphemisms...yet.

Yep - things that are not menstrual but could be - nay should be.

First up: Flora The Red Menace.

This was a 60s musical starring Liza Minelli. It's about communism, predictably, and, more surprisingly, fashion design.

But to misquote HBO's favorite 80s rerun, Clue, communism's just a red herring these days. I doubt this play will have revivals as successful as its sibling creations, Cabaret and Chicago. That's why I suggest that we give it its own special revival.

Now, I'm obviously not condoning euphemism for period-shame-related cover ups, but I have no problem with nicknaming my period. (Party Weirdo's Cara gave her period a stage name, after all.)

I nickname all my friends. Most of them don't mind.
Imagine this exchange:

Nicknamed Friend of Chella (who doesn't mind): Hey Chella, what's up?

Chella: I'm totally chilling with Flora the Red Menace today, man!

Yeah...that works for me.

Send in your not-menstrual-but-should-be suggestions.


Friday, 20 March 2009

Actually, I AM having a happy period, thank you very much...

Well, I am. The Always campaign has been lambasted in a McSweeney's open letter blog post and the subsequent round of email fwds on the mom and third degree of separation friend circuit, but I actually am having a happy period.

By this I mean that my period is flowing nicely, no hiccups (I mean that figuratively, but now I'm beginning to wonder how a literal menstrual hiccup would manifest itself...), no leaks, the cramps provided a reliable rhythm throughout the day like a small and temperamental Volkswagon Beetle, and I was in a good mood.

I was teaching a drama class today, and a girl got 'that' panicked look on her face and asked to speak to me away from the other kids. She said, 'Miss, can I go to the toilet? I think I've just come on.' Without batting an eye, and particularly cheerfully (because I was actually having a happy period), I replied, 'Oh, yeah, no problem. I just came on today as well. Do you need a pad? And don't worry about saying it in private - we don't need to talk about periods like they're a dirty secret - because they're not.' She was really cool about it and when she walked back into the room she didn't do the 'slinking back from running to the toilet' walk - she held her head high.

So, yeah, despite major difficulties with the ebb and flow that many women often have, there are some people who generally don't suffer too much, and could be persuaded that periods are kinda fun, and even funny. So...the Always campaign agrees with me - on the surface. This didn't sit too well with me, so I looked at their website and tried to work out what they were getting at.

The e-cards (did they read Adventures in Menstruating #3?) give the game away - apparently, having a happy period means excusing away sexist, stereotypical behaviours (eating chocolate, shopping, and acting bitchy) in a spectacular body image/capitalist/alpha female triple whammy.

This is a campaign that initially appears to be pro-menstrual normalisation and celebration but could do a lot of harm either way you look at it:
  • Some women think it's cute and positive, and use the website and the e-cards and it's a barrel of monkeys. Many of these women then go on to buy the product they've developed an affinity for and get sucked further into the disposable pad market.
  • Other women become uproariously irritated, rail against the notion that periods are in any way a ray of sunshine, and back this up with a litany of all the things that are shit about periods. They boycott the pads but propogate the notion that women are victims who suffer from periods and unwittingly support other women to seek out the allegedly panacea-like pads.
So it seems the tagline itself is the only redeemable notion.


The problem with saying 'Have a Happy Period' is that when Always says it, it's about as sincere as when any other multi-national corporation says anything. Their next question may as well be, 'Do you want wings with that?'

We have plenty of nice days, but we, as a people, don't like to be told to have a nice day. Always could be promoting the notion that for some people, periods don't need to be a negative experience EVERY month, but instead they are taking ownership of the good times we have with our periods.

It's my birthday tomorrow, so I'm anticipating that the happy period times will continue.

The video ads are mesmerising though, and I quite like the graphic design version of the improv game of props going on with the pads as shoes and boats and things, but Red Dwarf did it first and best.

Still curious about the hiccups.


Thursday, 19 March 2009

Wrapped in plain brown paper?

Readers of my zine will know I always judge a feminine hygiene product by its cover - packaging is an instant indicator of the taboo-breaky-ness (that's the technical term) of the pad or tampon company in question.

So I like the way Jeff Krichmar designed these:I like that the name is a riff on both 'time of the month' and 'rhythm'.

I like that the waxing of the moon and graded darkening of the boxes correspond to both the passage of time and (from what I can infer) the heaviness of your flow each day.

I like the colour not being pastel pink, the imagery not being abstract.

I like menstruation being linked to scientific fact, not misogynistic fantasy.

I really like the chart motif.

And what I like even more is that the writer of What Made Me Look said this about it when she posted a link to it on her blog:

"I wish there would be a tasteful packaging like this that you are not embarrassed to carry around in your handbag."

Awesome that the embarrassment factor comes from bad design.

Further thanks to Tina at swissmiss for indirectly making me look at what made me look.


Tuesday, 17 March 2009

A small oversight.

I'm a total stooge - I saved a draft of this post as long ago as the 24th of September but forgot to hit the publish button. No wonder I couldn't link to it in response to a comment I received. For the uninitiated, it also goes a long way to explaining yesterday's post. Thanks for the nudge, Riot Kitty.


Monday, 16 March 2009

This update brought to you by The SDU and YOU.

York SDU #1: My friend John (who is awesome and designed the Honeymoon Period logo based on little other than a wobbly drawing I had emailed him) took us to a shopping centre outside York and then on to York proper last weekend and we spotted a good, a bad, and ...instead of an ugly, I actually think this one almost qualifies as cute. But this is mainly because of my disorder where I see cute faces in everything. But come on - don't those chrome hinges cry out to be eyes staring lovingly up at you, the overflow valve and bowl presenting an alien as adorable as Doctor Who's Adipose babies?

While ridiculous and unnecessary, this SDU is less offensive than normal. It has room to chill on the diagonal, a long trap door, curvy edges and a chunky foot pedal. Without incurring the wrath of certain corporations, I'm suggesting it could be called an iSDU. Just don't hit shuffle.

York SDU #2:

This is a classic problem - the short trap door plus a lax cleaning rota. Last year's York centre SDU nirvana may have been a one-off. This was taken in the other public toilet built and maintained for shoppers and tourists in York city centre, and it let me down.

My accidental SDU tourism has taught me two things though -

  1. York has the most stylish units in the UK, evidenced by twice-seen rakishly angled design choices - the debonair dandies of the public convenience world.
  2. It would be wise for none of us to accept old-lady free toilet hook ups in the future. Visitors and Citizens of York: Pay the 20 pence charge from now on to avoid crimes against SDU-manity.
Oh yeah - there were replica Viking ships in the mall.


Thursday, 12 March 2009

Licentious? Nah...

No joke - in the UK you have to have a tv license to pay for public television. When I first moved here, I was amazed to learn that if you had a television, you had to get a license for it, for about £130 a year. If you don't have a license for your television, you can be fined. Well geez, I used to panic about this. Up until a few months ago, I actually thought people would demand to see the license if they knocked on your door, and I'd have to prove I had one by having it at the ready, like they were my identification papers during the war. So I used to keep this very official bit of paper under the tv in safe place so I'd have it to hand when that knock came. There was a VERY convincing television ad that gave me this impression several years ago, I swear. But it turns out they have the info on a database and you don't actually need to show anyone a bit of paper. If they see that you're not paid up, and you've got a satellite dish or cable wire going into the brick, or an antenna on the roof, someone from the tv license people may knock on your door and demand you pay for a tv license, but that's it. No terrifying knock, no frantic scrabbling around for passports...

But despite this odd practice, the BBC are good people. A couple of weeks ago, a programme called QI jumped into the top mainstream comedy slot at 9 pm on BBC 1 (the one occupied by Friends in the 90s, if that gives you an idea). QI is a 'Quite Interesting' comedy panel game where if you guess the most obvious-seeming yet wrong answer, you lose loads of points and quite a lot of self-respect. Scores are regularly in the negative numbers at the end of each episode, and its facts are so esoteric and forgettable that my friends and I can even watch this in reruns and feel clever and stupid by turns. It's hosted by one of my favourite gay, Jewish panel game hosts, Stephen Fry (the other one is Simon Amstell).

QI used to be on BBC2, which covers the 'clever and quirky' demographic quite nicely. When it was moved to BBC1 for its most recent season, I was worried it'd dumb down and go mainstream. How delighted I was last week in the Flora and Fauna episode when the very first question name-checked menstruation in a big way. The episode is still available on iplayer in the UK, and I seriously hope it arrives on BBC America and elsewhere soon enough. The question was about the significance of the camellia flower in a book called La Dame au Camellia (and in the film and opera based on it). All the guests, including this week's token woman, Jo Brand (who has never shied away from huge amounts of sexually themed and menstrual comedy in her stand up act) joined in with the discussion of wearing a white camellia flower 25 days a month and wearing a red camellia for the other 5. (Now THAT's regular!) Women were not the butt of the jokes! Menstruation wasn't considered disgusting! Best bit: Stephen Fry in role saying 'Sorry, I can't, I've got a period on,' and Jo Brand guffawing as she gently corrected him: 'Stephen, it's EITHER/OR! Either 'I've got my period' or 'I'm on!'' A good third of the show was devoted to menstrual comedy. It's quite sad that I'm so shocked and pleased by this, but wanted to log the praise where it's due. It also taught this menstrual maven a thing or two about the history behind Germany's arm of Kotex branding its pads Camellia. (Actually I wish the US arm (wing?)
would depart from their 50s medicinal moniker and head the same way - it'd mean the To Bleed Or Not To Bleed sketch I do in our live show (it's about menstrual suppression) would be able to end with 'the fair Camellia' in both countries. "The fair Camellia! Pad, in thy soft layers/Be all my blood collect'd!")

I sat down to write about this all last night but got engrossed in a BBC Radio 4 programme called Am I Normal doing an entire episode deconstructing stereotypes around menopause (recommended reading from one of the interviewees was Mrs. Dalloway - so now that's two books, an opera and a film to add to my reading list), directly followed by Call Yourself a Feminist, which turned out to be the first of three documentaries tracking different waves of feminism. (Which one are we on now? Third, right? Do we all graduate to fourth at some point? I've been in third so long I'm starting to feel like I got left back.) I was fascinated by comments from an oldskool feminist called Sonia adamantly insisting that feminists weren't humourless, and that it was irresponsible of the media to only show the drier side of feminism. Right on, sister!

So yeah, the BBC is on message. They are ready to acknowledge that feminists can be funny, and comedians can talk menstruation. Perhaps I should send in a sitcom idea about women who work in a tampon factory. Actually, I think I will. You heard it here first, folks - it'll be called Up Yours (with its own comedy tampon packaging to get my design!brain going). Look for it at 9 pm on BBC1 in a couple of years...


Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Adventures in Menstruating: Bigger and Redder

The stirrings of spring mean our hiatus is over and a new issue of Adventures in Menstruating is on the way at last – a ‘true confessions’ style bumper edition. Thank you to everyone who's waited patiently this year while we got gaymarried, worked on the Obama campaign and supported an ill friend.

The year hasn’t been totally devoid of things menstrual or zine, though –

We had an excellent review from Brittany Shoot at Feminist Review and she felt moved to write a piece for our next issue. Brittany's writing is fantastic and we're really pleased to have made friends with this radical woman. Chella will be contributing to Brittany’s upcoming zine about expats - stay tuned for an article called 'Adventures in Emigrating’ and more details about that zine later this month.

We did a mini tour called 'Honeymoon Period' which included a comedy sketch performance, menstrual craft workshop and poetry reading at Ladyfest Berlin and concluded with Malav's gallant hospitality once again at Bluestockings in NYC.

Sarah won a poetry competition at this year’s Off the Shelf Festival one of the poems she read, ‘A Celebration of Menstruation’ (which you may have read in the zine or seen on tour) united the crowd and the judges, and a trophy cup has joined her mooncup on the bathroom shelf.

An extract from AiM #3 was included in Zine Yearbook 9 put out by Microcosm. Details available here.

Chella is getting involved with Red Chidgey and Elke Zobl's fantastic book - working title: DIY Activism! Dispatches from the Transnational Feminist Zine Movement - and is keen to promote their website.

And finally, Chella's recently (like literally just today, actually) been asked to contribute work to a book coming out next year by Christine Bobel tentatively called New Blood: Third Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation from Rutgers University Press. More details on that as they come in.

So that’s been the zine highlights of the year for us – we’re excited to be back, uh… bigger and redder?

All the best from
Chella and Sarah

PS Chella will be in New York from the 6th – 12th April – if you’ve got a hankering for putting something zine or menstrual together, get in touch.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Zinefest Today!

Zinefest is on today at the Women's Library in London. We went to the last one and really enjoyed it - it's a great space. There was a really cool write-up of that one in the London edition Time Out. We're sorry to be missing this one, but finances are keeping us local.

Issue 4 of AiM is coming together, believe it or not. I have the cover and back cover ideas mapped out, about 70% of the content, and the covers have given me the theme for the new issue, which I may or may not reveal before it's done - I'll keep you posted.

The myspace page has been pretty active recently, although I'm not a fan of the myspace layout and actually find it almost too jarring to use it regurlarly (the page skins aren't a problem - it's the user area I find a bit 'sensory overload'), but I'm trying to because I've met some quite cool people on there through the Ladyfest network, so please keep the friend requests coming.

I'm still in my post-inauguration come-down. I may do some research on how the tone of US feminine hygiene product advertising changes with each new president - like, do tampons tap into the zeitgeist? Maybe not. Maybe I was just trying to shoehorn in a menstrual topic to an otherwise non-menstrual event just so I could still post it on this blog - although getting your first period in the White House might lead to a leakage horror story, actually. Maybe I'll approach the Obama kids for a contribution sometime during issues 6 - 10...

No longer pretending to be Canadian,


Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

What a long strange hiatus it's been. Things are stirring in menstrual zine land, which I'll get posting on. In the meantime, please enjoy the following New Year's greeting photo and explanation courtesy of the H2G2 for our friends outside of Germany. :)

Here's a video link if you'd like to re-live New Year's Eve. One of these years we'll have to perform the lesbian zine girl version in Berlin! All the best for 2009.

Chella and Sarah