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Paper City

February 18, 2013

The day before Paper City I had the usual list of things to do one has before going away, sensible, administrative things I’d been putting off all week and practical things like plant watering. But instead of doing them, I spent many hours packaging teabags into band t-shirt themed packets.

band tshirt teabagsThey included Riot Girl Rooibos, Pennyroyal Tea, Space Odditea, Fear of a Black Tea, I wanna be Sedated (camomile), Ok Camomile – as I packaged them I tried to guess which would be most popular at the tea party: hands down it was Space Odditea, the genmaicha with David Bowie on the packet.

Paper City is Sticky’s annual zine festival, and this year all the events were compacted into a long weekend, beginning with the launch party on Thursday night and ending with the zine fair in Melbourne Town Hall on Sunday afternoon. The band t-shirt tea party was at noon on Friday and the first of an afternoon of talks and launches: I was curious, what band t-shirt would people wear? I was wearing my special occasions only Huggy Bear shirt, made by my friend Natasha in the 1990s: you can still see the Esprit logo underneath. Thomas from Sticky wore his ultimate band t-shirt – good for every band:

VB Thomas Sticky

Band Tshirt Tea Party Sticky

There was a good showing of iconic band t-shirts: The Smiths, Radio Birdman, Einsturzende Neubauten, Nirvana, and a very cool four year old wearing a Grinderman t-shirt. When given the choice of teabags, he too went for David Bowie.

I read a few stories from Band T-shirt in the doorway of the shop, as people going back and forth from the train station paused and stared to try and determine what was going on. I read the story of my first band t-shirt, The Cure, a bittersweet tale of never-followed love and a Mudhoney t-shirt, and a tale from the goth days about my Alien Sex Fiend t-shirt.

Band T-shirt reading

After the tea party, Elouise and Jeremy spoke about their campaign to fund a pop up DIY workshop bicycle trailer (successful! hooray!) and following that were more readings and discussions, and the day ended in a sugar bomb of macarons and creaming soda for the launch of the follow up zine to Macarons are not Macaroons, Ganache is not spelt Ganash (or “gnash”, as one of my students spelt it last year).

On Saturday I went for a tour of the State Library of Victoria zine collection, which is the largest public zine collection in Australia. There are thousands of zine packed away in grey boxes, some of which had been selected for us to browse through. These zines have been collected from Polyester Books and Sticky since the 1990s, as well as from donations of individuals’ zine collections. I saw a fair few of my old zines emerging from the boxes, and in fact during the zine fair on Sunday someone said they’d gone to the library specifically to read old zines of mine. While I was flattered, I was also a little worried what past version of Vanessa they might have met in the archives.


state library victoria zine collection


Archives investigated, I returned to Sticky for the launch of Sex Industry Apologist #2 by Nine, for which as many people as possible squeezed their way into Sticky to listen to a discussion about sex work issues and readings from the zine.

sex industry apologist zine launch

After this was the launch of Veganistan #2, the second issue of the zine of vegan recipes from the Middle East. I have already cooked a meal entirely from Veganistan 2 and highly recommend it (it has also got me addicted to pomegranates).

Sex Industry Apologist #2 and Veganistan #2 in the romantic light of my anodised lamp.

Sex Industry Apologist #2 and Veganistan #2 in the romantic light of my anodised lamp.

As I was exclaiming over the greatness of a Badimjan Borujuglari (eggplant roll) and declining a sip from a jar of vegan Baileys I noticed that the most recent issue of You zine came wrapped around a stick. I appreciate a good stick, but didn’t think I’d be allowed on my plane back to Sydney with it.

YOU zine sticks

The final day of Paper City was the zine fair held in the town hall, a grand room with huge sunflowers decorating the ceiling and an imposing pipe organ behind the stage. I was debuting my zine “Morrissey and the End of the World”, and it seemed to be most popular with bearded men. Such a clean-shaven idol for such bearded men!

I brought home a big box of zines which I bought and traded for at the fair, which I shall survey in an upcoming post. For now, thank you to Sticky for organising such a great festival. For those who couldn’t be there, here’s a spy camera shot of the zine fair I pinched from the Sticky blog:


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