Bust (The Magazine for Women with Something to Get off Their Chests) was born of Stoller's and co-editor Marcelle Karp's desire to see a woman's magazine that truthfully detailed the lives of American gals who weren't rich, supermodel-thin, or out of touch with sexual reality. Hooked on the radical teen magazine Sassy's real life advice and overall tone of confidence, Stoller, Karp, and art director Laurie Henzel decided to make a magazine that would stop portraying women the way society dictated and start detailing them in a truer light.
Starting off as a stapled photocopy, Bust soon emerged as a standard-sized, glossy-cover magazine. "It's embarrassing, but when we started, we didn't know anything about zine culture. We read Sassy and thought it would be so empowering to have something like that for 30- and 40-year-olds. We thought we were so cool, like we invented zines or something." Covering topics like blow jobs, big butts, and masturbation, Bust blasted all the myths that everyone from Mom to the Penthouse Forum ever put forth. "What I've learned from doing Bust," says Stoller, "is that the sentiments of women are much wider than the media would ever let you know. I've learned that whatever weirdness you have... it's shared by somebody else."
Collecting all their great Bust articles into a book entitled The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order has allowed Stoller and Karp to reach a new audience of women, those perhaps unfamiliar with the subcultural milieu of the fanzine world. "A lot of people who never saw the magazine are digging the book," reports Stoller. "I'm glad to see people getting down with the program. But this isn't feminism like 'Yay, women's soccer! Let's play soccer!' There is no reason that soccer should be more valued than knitting." Indeed, The Bust Guide has such a broad definition of feminism that it threatens to stop being an "ism," and start simply being the way life goes.
To Stoller, a feminist icon is whoever makes you recognize your own vested interested in self-empowerment. She gives Monica Lewinsky more credit as a role model than Susan B. Anthony or Germaine Greer. "Man, never has there been a woman so unapologetic about being a slut. I don't know where she gets her confidence. She's so proud that she showed this guy her thong! She has never presented herself as a victim." Who else is in Stoller's proud pantheon of feminist icons? "I love the women who watch Oprah. They get no respect in our culture, because they have no sexual power and nobody cares about them. But there are so many of them! Who knows what would happen if they all got together!"
In many ways, Stoller is critical of the '70s feminists who steered the course of the movement's politics. "They rejected femininity by saying it was oppressive," she explains. A better philosophy, she believes, is that of the Riot Grrl movement of the early '90s. "I loved the reclamation strategy of Riot Grrl. They made a separate culture for girls by throwing their femininity in your face." According to Stoller, we don't need a sexual revolution -- we need an information revolution. "Our culture doesn't look at what it takes for women to get pleasure," says Stoller. "The focus has become entirely lost. It's not about whether you get an orgasm from multiple partners or costumes or all-cotton natural fabrics. It's about airing all the views so women know that they aren't alone in their weirdness."
That's where The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order comes in. With articles that discuss body image ("Thanks for the Mammaries: The Rise and Fall of My Boobs"), sexual confidence ("How to Be as Horny as a Guy"), and the biological time bomb ("Mother-to-Wannabe"), The Bust Guide is a tool to navigate the post-feminist polemic. Whether it is a firebrand speech on pussy pride or a shameless love letter to Keanu Reeves, the book gives our secret peccadilloes a spotlight turn on the dance floor. And like sex or shopping or eating an entire Sara Lee chocolate cake -- it just feels good.
So when the Bust girls arrive in town on the 23rd to disseminate their agenda, you'd best be there to witness the tits and twat revolution. With readings from co-editors Stoller and Karp; music by grrl rockers the Bangs, the Need, and MeMe America; an interactive fashion show with Best Girl Wins; fire-eating by the Magmavox Troupe; and sex tips from our good friends at Toys in Babeland, this is going to be a consciousness-raising session like no other. Don't worry. You won't have to squat over a mirror and discuss what your vagina looks like, but you might have to stand around and laugh about the time you actually did it.
The Voice of the New Girl Order, a publishing party for The Bust Guide to the New World Order, will be held Thurs Sept 23 at the Showbox, 1426 First Ave. Doors at 7, reading by Bust authors Celia Hex and Betty Boob at 7:30, music at 8. $8 advance, $10 at the door. Advance tix available at Ticketmaster, Toys in Babeland, Bailey/Coy Books, and the Showbox.