Polyester’s new issue asks us to embrace our inner darkness

The femme/queer zine enters new territory – with Cherry Glazerr’s Clementine Creevy and Pussy Riot’s Nadya lending their voices to the cause

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Polyester issue 6
Nadya from Pussy RiotPhotography Hobbes Ginsberg

“In some ways, this issue feels like a tale of two halves”, writes Ione Gamble, founder of Polyester zine, in her editor’s letter for the soon-to-be-released issue 6. After rehashing the tremendous shit show that the world currently finds itself in, Trump, Brexit, Theresa May, tampon tax, tone deaf Pepsi adverts… she adds, “Most of the time I feel like I’m living in a weird dystopian film about an apocalyptic millennial nightmare.”

It’s been ten months since issue 5 offered to help us escape shitty Britain. 2016 had Gamble focused on the positives that creativity could create rather the things we were powerless to change, with the editor-in-chief describing it as “markedly less political” than Polyester had ever been. But, oh, how the world has changed.

Issue 6’s more realistic approach is made loud and clear with Cherry Glazerr’s Clementine Creezy as the face of one of its covers. Inside, its pages are filled with interviews with Creezy herself, Pussy Riot’s Nadya, manicurist-model hybrid Wolfie, and urban feminist collective Smart Girl Club, amongst much more, as Polyester navigates the darker side to feminist activism.

Ahead of its launch at London’s MOTH Club on Tuesday 25 April, Gamble fills us in and gives us the first look inside issue 6 – which you can pre-order here.

Tell us about this issue – what are you most excited about?

Ione Gamble: The interviews and features within this issue are really exciting to me – I feel like all the women I spoke to each have amazing perspectives on not only what it means to be a feminist, but also a femme. Since interviewing Cherry Glazerr I've listened to their new album literally every day for the past couple of months, and I've been obsessed with The Love Witch since I came across the trailer and read some interviews with Anna Biller the director. To be able to shoot Samantha Robinson in character as Elaine, using costumes from the film, was incredible. I'm also excited to have creative writing, poems, manifestos and other forms of writing aside from traditional 'article' formats in this issue.

In your interview with Nadya, you mention that you came away with new views on fourth wave feminism and activism after initially speaking with her last year – what did you learn this time?

Ione Gamble: Both times I've interviewed Nadya, it’s really made me think a little bigger in terms of looking outside of my own. She's such a positive person, and has such a unique approach to feminism in that respect, listening to her talk about compassion within activism and using your voice to reach as many people as possible was really lovely – especially from someone who has been through so much adversity. 

In your editor's letter, you talk about embracing darkness more and departing from the idealistic elements of feminism. Why do you think you feel this way?

Ione Gamble: I'm sure it’s just a reaction to the world around me, and how myself and my peers are responding to the current social and political climate. When everything else seems so dark it seems logical that I would be influenced to explore that as an editor and the contributors of the zine would be channeling that into their work. But also we are all just growing up, our approach to certain issues are more than likely to change, our priorities shift. I've also always taken slight issue with an overly positive, idealistic approach to feminism. It's important to embrace all parts of the femme experience under feminism – to accept that women have darkness in them and to explore and analyse that.  

The last issue was all about escapism, would you say this issue is more realistic than utopian?

Ione Gamble: I'm not necessarily sure this issue approaches ‘realism’ in a traditional respect, but maybe it's my take on that. Escapism under our current system is extremely difficult – both myself and most people around me feel overwhelmed by everything a large majority of the time. The world currently isn't an easy place to exist in as a marginalised person, nor has it ever been. I still think a zine such as mine has limited capabilities as to what it can do in terms of 'real' change, whatever that means; but hopefully what Polyester can do is make people feel less alone. Ultimately the zine is a place for femmes and queer people to express themselves – it's representative of people’s feelings, thoughts, and moods in a way the majority of media isn't. 

“It’s important to embrace all parts of the femme experience under feminism – to accept that women have darkness in them and to explore and analyse that” – Ione Gamble

What do you think it means to be a feminist in this new global context? How can we step forward from the selfies and self-empowering stickers to continue to be active and engaged, but in a way that is more realistic and more urgent?

Ione Gamble: Like any political movement, feminism is ever-evolving, and a reaction to the times. While in a calmer political climate, selfies and stickers were a comforting way to reclaim the female space for ourselves, now it's more important to protect women everywhere. Those things prior mentioned do have their place of course, but I think everyone is tired of these methods alone to a certain extent. I'm also not particularly sure I'm the most well equipped to suggest how to move forward – but hopefully the zine and everyone featured will provide some hope in that respect!

What are you thinking of for the next issue?

Ione Gamble: This issue feels like it took my whole brain and energy to complete so I'm just looking forward to it being out in the world and for other people to see it. Next I'll be focussing on the new studio space I've opened up in South London with Rachel Hodgson, Ayesha Tan Jones and Lu Williams of Grrrl Zine Fair. The space will focus on hosting exhibitions, workshops, and community events – I'm really interested in how Polyester can permeate the pages of a publication and create a sense of community in the IRL world. But there will be a next issue! I just have no idea what it will look like yet.

Pre-order issue 6 here and find out more details on the launch here

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