Punk Girls – 3 Year Review

Hey! We started writing our blog 3 years ago. Although we – Vim and Lene – live in different cities and mainly communicate by text message, we’d become fascinated with the new interest in punk after its 40th anniversary. What seemed to be missing was the voice of ordinary girls like us. Punkgirldiaries is about being a punk fan, about making your own music, all the ephemera and cultural stuff that runs through the decades as well as pulling together accurate biographies of women’s contributions and lives in punk, post-punk and music now.

Three years on, we interview ourselves.

What do you remember about the early days of writing the blog together in 2018?

Vim: I remember how we started to post something on the blog every day; there was a lot of self-imposed pressure to get home from work at 6pm and then create something to post by 8pm. We didn’t take it in turns, so whoever had an idea would text message the other to say they’d do it.

Lene: Exactly that… it became a bit of an obsession, and far from running out of things to write about the list just got longer and longer. We also started to do interviews which felt like a new or next step.

Which of the blog posts you’ve written has been the most read and why?

Lene: Nora Forster – people seem fascinated by her being The Slits singer Ari Up’s mum and also married to John Lydon.

Vim: I started this series called ‘Dealing with a Difficult Man’ – and there are several different women musicians whose biography fits this. I think the Tina Weymouth one is the most read; it’s about the whole of her career but particularly when she was struggling to be accepted into Talking Heads by ‘a difficult man’.

Why did you decide to start making and selling printed zines and T-shirts?

Vim: I became aware that our hundreds of online posts might one day get lost in a digital vortex and we didn’t want that. And we’ve both always loved printed zines; modern technology means that we can have amazing graphics and full colour – impossible in the black and white photocopying era!

Lene: It was also a decision that coincided with the first lockdown in March 2020, and in a way it was the unexpected change of routine that gave us an opportunity to spend the time developing it. I thought that there was only going to be one!

What do you like about zine 1?

Lene: I just like the fact that we did it. Transferring the energy of the blog into a printed zine was a massive leap. Blogzine 1 also has the interview with Alannah Currie and Trace Ingram-Newton which we did the previous autumn but was too long to put it all in a blogpost. It was the most funny afternoon ever, as they talked about their adventures in 1979 London squatland. Ari came over for a bath, and Viv moved in with Trace, “The first time we met we talked about farting and sweets”. Forming The Unfuckables, their one and only gig was at an anti psychiatry conference, and featured an expanded line up which included members of The Slits and The Pop Group, who improvised a set of unspecified length, but according to Trace “it went on for ages”. Alannah soon went onto join fellow squatters called the Thompson Twins or something.

Vim: I like some of the original ideas about our zine being an authoritative source of new information, to be taken seriously, as well as the brilliant design, humour and good writing. We decided to get an ISBN and barcode – to send it to the British Library legal deposit, and put it on the Nielsen book ordering system. We’re really trying to screw into history, and the best thing was that all the numbered copies sold. We might reprint it one day…

What about zine 2?

Vim: I enjoyed writing about fly-posting and was pleased to be able to include my warning letter from the council telling me not to flypost any more. It was amazing to interview Alison Statton from Young Marble Giants, who was one of my early heroes; Lene insisted on including one of my amateurish comic strips about my first YMG gig. The interview with Helen McCookerybook of The Chefs was also fascinating because you see how the original punk spirit develops over time. She’s still playing and recording music but is also a well-respected academic – like quite a few of the punk women we’ve interviewed.

Lene: The difficult second album. Lockdown meant distanced interviews, and so confined to quarters we got on the phone. We also had a great chat with Steph Phillips of Big Joanie, and we caught up with Adele Nozedar from Indians in Moscow who told us all about having bonfires inside Rod Stewart’s Chelsea flat. Another thrill was going to artist Pat Naylor’s house to be handed a large cardboard envelope containing what would become the cover. Also email chats with Suzi Quatro “I can type like the wind”. She certainly can.

What’s your favourite things about zine 3?

Lene: We packed the zine with amazing exclusive interviews. Miki Berenyi is just the coolest and funniest; it was so great to spend an afternoon chatting with her, and she let us have some of her teenage goth photos for the zine. We also hadn’t realised that Zillah Minx of Rubella Ballet had so much film archive of women in punk. She was excellent, and also we decided to write more about women playing music now which led us to talented drummer Fliss Kitson. She’s in The Nightingales now, but was in a girl-power teenage band called Violet Violet – and they supported The Slits .

Vim: By the third issue, we’d realised that there is a chance that some of our musical heroes would talk with us. I mean, Gaye Black of The Adverts actually designed the cover and did an interview with us! I had a lovely conversation with Pauline Murray – and Penetration were one of the earliest bands I bought on 7″ single. I used to hero-worship Lesley Woods of the Au Pairs and there we were Skyping her and doing photos in a park! We are both very much fangirls! And we got a fab poster made – we like the idea of sending extra free gifts when people order the zine.

And zine 4?

Vim: The high-profile opportunities kept coming, and we also wanted to talk to some current bands that have a punky sound or ethos. It was great to speak with Holly of The Lovely Eggs who is the embodiment of the DIY fuck-’em attitude. I do remember this zine being really intense work to put together because we wanted it out before December; we did another poster and free beermats, too. We’ve had a much-needed break since then, but it’s all about zine 5 now!

Lene: It was such a privilege to visit Gee Vaucher of Crass; she’s so wise and still so youthful. We were both impressed with how good Wendy James’ new album was and it was lovely to have a zoom interview with her. Every issue we learn so much new stuff about original punk. I got to meet and interview Chas Hines – a Black British woman fronting a 1978 punk band – and learned about the mystery of her band’s lost single. Oh and of course, June Miles Kingston was the iconic female drummer of the 1980s; she told us all about being in The Mo-dettes, Everything But The Girl, The Communards – Amazing! As it was the Christmas issue, we had a zoom party with Julianne Regan of All About Eve and tried to rate some Christmas songs.

Why did you do the punkgirldiaries calendar?

Lene: Vim told me to do it. The upside down page layout thing was a nightmare. But it does look great.

Vim: I do love a hang-it-on-the-wall calendar; Lene does our artwork; the calendar was a way to put that style on show to everyone. And having punk girl inspirations birthdays on there is fab; although I’ve worried about whose might be wrong and who we might have accidentally left out (sorry Julianne). It’s interesting that we found 12 punk girl birthdays for March but only 3 for February and October.

How do you come up with ideas for your T-shirts?

Vim: They are all handprinted, mainly by Lene since lockdown, although we did do some together originally. My default way of dressing is always jeans and a T-shirt and it’s good to have our own to wear! I like that they reference punk music but not in an obvious way. We usually have a video chat and throw out some ideas – it’s the same for our lovely stickers that we put on our mailers.

Lene: There’s a warm, proud feeling you get when you’re sending shirts you’ve actually printed yourself across the world. I also like that the concept of the designs is quite funny. For example, our ‘Bored Teenager’ T-shirts are mostly worn by much older people, and ‘Three Chord Wonder’ guitarists are just the best – even better than one chord wonders.

Our zines and t-shirts are mailed worldwide daily – from as little as £12

What’s next?

Lene: We’re in the frantic phase of trying to finish zine 5 and get it off to the printers, so it’s design, editing, planning and then telling people who our new interviews are with … in the very near future.

Vim: New T-shirt designs, badges, posters. We want to get some new bands together and release some music, and when gigs start again, we’ll be there … maybe a punkgirldiaries stall at festivals, who knows?

Blogzine 5 is published in March. Subscribe or follow punkgirldiaries.com here or on Twitter to receive notification about pre-ordering.

7 thoughts on “Punk Girls – 3 Year Review

  1. Wow! Three years gone by already? And you two come home after work and blog??!!! Incredible. My hat is off for choosing that time for it. If I couldn’t write during my lunch hour, I can’t say I’d have ever crossed the blogging line. Yet here we are eleven years later. I started out doing a fanzine with my friend in the late 80s/early 90s and that’s too close to what I do all day long for money, so I wouldn’t normally think to revisit print again. But maybe a nice compendium [with possibly actual editing] for a POD book of the best PPM posts from my first decade might be just the thing to do if I ever got the time [laughs hysterically]. Hmmm. You have planted a seed.

    1. Yes, you should do it! Thanks for the nice comment. Neither of us works full time now so that’s why we’ve managed to make the zines.

      1. Lucky you! I’d be dangerous if I didn’t have to put in my 40 hours for my crust.

  2. Congrats, you’ve been a shining light in a very dark period for the UK . You can’t beat a printed zine and I’m looking forward to #5, the possibilities are endless so bring on The Punk Girl Diaries real live festival/party !

    1. Thanks so much for the comment. We’re excited about publishing zine number 5 too!

  3. Love this!! It’s great. Side note: are you aware that Nora Forster has Alzheimers? They live in Venice, California (which isn’t too far from me) He spends all his time taking care of her. Which is so sweet.

    1. Thanks David, yes we knew about Nora’s condition and that John is her carer. Tricky times – we hope you’re well!

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