The Microcosm Robnoxious Interview!

In Shut Up and Love the Rain, Oakland-based zinester Robnoxious takes along his path from early sexual exploration to his current sex-positive, constantly-deprogramming, über-healthy queerness! Rob’s writing and comics show us that experimentation should start early, that guilty pleasures needn’t be guilty, and that talking it over and being honest with each other will lead to nothin’ but good. Over the course of 64 pages you get personal history and sex/queer-related reviews. There’s hilarious, illuminating essays, intimate accounts of relationships outside the margins, and a touching, inspiring interview with Rob’s parents after his father came out as transgendered. Subheadlined “To Queer Anarchist Happiness Thru Good Living,” Rob’s brand-new comix and writing zine is just that—happy, living well, queer and anarchist and damn proud!               

You can order Shut Up and Love the Rain right here.

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Q: Let’s talk Shut Up and Love the Rain. What was the genesis for this one? When did you get started on it and what made you want to do it?

A: I wanted to do a zine like one I did years ago called Girl-Boy, but I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to do it with me. I just started writing about sexuality, queerness, gender, and personal experiences based on those things. Then I took those stories and made them into comics! A lot of the zine is sequential art, also known as comics. I decided it was time to get back into drawing, so I took a figure drawing and portraiture class at Laney College in Oakland. The classes were awesome, and after that my neglected drawing skills were re-activated. When I was growing up in high school I would receive and assignment and just flip it over to the blank side of the paper and draw whatever I wanted.  That’s really where it all started, with me saying, “This is bullshit. Let’s flip it over and try something different.”

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Q: I thought the section on your dad was really brave. What’s your parents’ response been to that part? Seems like their attitude is super healthy in regards to her change.

A: My parents were really happy with the interview focusing on my dad coming out as a transgendered woman. I think it meant a lot to my parents to have their son think that what they were doing was important enuf to put down in writing and share with the world. My parents seem much healthier now than they ever have been. It’s really great to see them happy. Sometimes I think my mom falls into the shadow a little bit, which is typical, because transitioning is such a big thing, a huge event in people’s life, so that the partner of the person transitioning is like, “Can we talk about something else for a minute?” Ha! They’re working it out.

Q: It seems to me that zines have been kind of sexless for years. You read these personal zines about love relationships and the characters never talk about sex, never have sex, never think about sex, anything like that. Which is unrealistic. Lately though I’ve seen a lot more zines with sexual content coming out. Have you noticed any change in that respect? Do you think zinesters are afraid of talking about sex?

A: I think that fear of sex is inherent in our whole culture, and that translates down to our alternative world too. I became more aware of our sexually repressed culture while living in Europe for three months and seeing the open attitude to sexuality and naked bodies. I saw huge posters on streets in Vienna with full nudes; if someone did this in the States they would probably be arrested! So even tho zines are underground and alternative, the mainstream mentality is still there inside our minds. A lot of people are repulsed by depictions of sexuality. It’s something you do only in the dark and you don’t talk about it and you can’t let anyone else know or hear you while you’re doing it; it has to be secret! Every year I go to this queer music festival in Tennessee and it’s great because there are these meadows with wall-to-wall tents, and at all times of the day you can hear people getting it on, fucking in their tents or out in the woods, and they hear you laughing, and then they laugh, and they keep going. It’s like the way things are in tribal situations, where people don’t have rooms to hide in, and where sex is seen and heard happening among various generations, and it’s just part of life, there’s nothing shameful about it.

Q: Who are your favorite zine-makers right now?

A: Craven Rock: he is writing about what he does to survive, working, and it’s interesting. Cindy Crabb: one of the first zines I read that was not superficial but was trying to get to the bottom of things, and still going! Full Metal Faggot: a sex positive queer porn zine with explicit photos of punks being sexual in seasonal labor jobs. Very unique. John Isaacson: comics about traveling around and having fun with the other people in the world. Max Clotfelter: comics about rough people, people that we know, people that we are, people that we could be.

Q: Give us your top six zines…

A: Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf (comic zine open to contributions), Eaves of Ass by Craven Rock, Full Metal Faggot, Doris, Loitering Is Good, The Roaming Heart by Gina Sicilliano.

Q: Are zines important in 2010?

A: Oh yeah, people are still getting a lot out of printed zines. They still read a zine, and if they think it’s good, they hand it off to someone else. Blogs are great to spread things around the world for cheap and easy, but not everyone has internet or a computer, and giving someone the address to your website and expecting them to stare at a screen connected to the grid is such a different experience than handing them a real physical zine to carry with them wherever they may go. All they need is for the sun to be up, and that I think zines are much more empowering in that way.