Death of Venus

Eight years ago, back when I was a wannabe college journalist, Venus published my first ever music review. So it's always had a special place in my little writer heart, and as a reader, I've loved watching Venus grow. To go from a zine conceived in a freshman dorm to a mag sold in Barnes & Noble is something completely amazing, especially when that mag/zine manages to retain its sense of independence. Even when Venus was sold to new publishers and handed over to a new editor in chief, it still featured inspiring not-so-household-name cover stars like Cat Power, M.I.A., Dita von Teese, and Feist.

Last fall, Venus went on a bit of a hiatus. The website at venuszine.com didn't publish any new articles for a few months, and the future of the magazine was uncertain. I don't have any of the deets about what happened during that time, but at the other end of the tunnel was the Spring 2010 issue with Melissa Auf der Maur on the cover.

I've been trying to collect my thoughts on this issue for a few weeks now. MAdM and the Baby-sitters Club, two of my faves, both got space on the cover, so I was psyched when my copy came in the mail. And after flipping a few pages in, I got my answer to how Venus had re-emerged from its hibernation in the form of a publisher's letter, in which the new head honcho writes, "I've always been a passionate advocate for other women." It's hard for me to put into words why this (and the general tone of the letter) rubs me the wrong way. Obviously women advocating for other women is a positive thing—but I guess it feels as if she's trying too hard to buddy up to us, the readers of this traditionally feminist publication. Like, why do you need to point out that you've "always been an advocate" for women? It sounds like something a politician would say.

Not to whine, but I'm gonna: There were a few other things about the issue that bothered me. Example #1: a blurb on five "girl-friendly apps" for the iPhone. The old Venus might have covered this same thing but questioned why these apps are targeted at women in the first place. Picks include something called Seafood Watch (health risks for women aged 18-45!) and NikeWomen Training Club. Really? Then there's a style section in which musician Kaki King fills out a questionnaire that asks her to name her favorite cosmetic products. Change K.K. to Katy Perry, and this could have been a piece in Allure or Lucky.

Venus used to be about women in music. It expanded, and got better, when it started featuring women in art and fashion and books and film. But I'm afraid it's starting to be about women as consumers instead of creators. And today the magazine's staff sent out an email dropping the biggest bombshell of all: Venus is not going to be Venus for much longer. They're taking votes on the following possible new names: Cake, Pepper, Spark, and Ditto. Honestly, Venus has never been my favorite mag name (except when they called the men's pages "Penus"), and I know that there's actually another publication called Venus, which is why a couple of years ago the Venus of our discussion started officially calling itself Venus Zine

I cast my ballot for Pepper. But I'm sad about the demise of my once-favorite mag. When a magazine changes publishers and names, it's pretty much a new magazine, right?


lulutripp said...

I completely agree. It was almost like back in the day when Sassy was taken over - I could tell just by looking at the magazine that a major change had occured. Yeah, I won't be holding on to issues from now on.

Carin said...

Hi, I gave you an award! http://carolinebookbinder.blogspot.com/2010/05/awards-lovely-acknowledgement.html

Sadako said...

Never heard of this one but they gave it some BSC space? For real? Awesomeness!

andrea jean said...

Yeah, but even the BSC article was kind of disappointing. It's an interview with Ann; mostly basic questions, though.

curator of cute said...

:( I have not picked up a copy of the newest Venus, and i don't think i will now. It really is sad, it was such a great read before.

Aria Minelime said...

ll said. clearly you and i are on exactly the same page. what a bummer!