VAGINA DENTATA ZINE
Sassify caught up with Vagina Dentata creator Smin Smith to talk sass and visions of Queer Utopia.
Tell us a little bit about your zine….
I started Vagina Dentata Zine to explore the symbiotic relationship I saw between Science Fiction, Fashion and Feminism. The zine provides a platform for those excluded by Hollywood (women, LGBTQIA+, POC and non-binary creatives) to interact and engage with Science Fiction.
Your zine gives a voice to a lot of underrepresented creatives, how intentional is that?
It’s very much intentional. The lack of representation in Science Fiction and Fantasy for women, POC and the LGBTQIA+ community has always been something that frustrates me. SF film employs less women than any other film genre (both in front and behind of the camera), and of the top-grossing 100 films (as of 2014) only 8 had a protagonist of colour. Not a single one of those 100 films had a Woman of Colour or an LGBTQ protagonist.
My love of Science Fiction often felt at odds with my politics, so I began using illustrated and photographic zines to express this discomfort. I was finding like-minded artists regularly, but there wasn’t a platform for our visions - so that’s why I started Vagina Dentata Zine. Since launching, Science Fiction like The Handmaid’s Tale and Black Panther have reclaimed space within the genre - but there’s still so much work to be done!
Why science fiction, what do you love about it?
I think it’s the unlimited possibilities! It’s a genre that’s never shied away from excess nor the surreal. I can remember watching classics like Star Wars, Alien or The Fifth Element for the first time and just being completely blown away - you don’t get that kind of shock factor from a film confined to realism. As a stylist, there’s also so much inspiration to be found in the costumes - I’ve always connected with Science Fiction films’ aesthetics much more than reality.
Your zine is visually inviting, what are your inspirations?
There’s definitely a lot of colour and clashing in each issue! Whilst the themes vary, my main aim is to capture Science Fiction’s reclamation, as it’s such an important cultural movement. Issue 001 showcased what women, LGBTQIA+ and POC creatives have to offer to the Science Fiction genre. Issue 002 took this a step further, and was inspired by the ways that Politics and Science Fiction are merging in our artwork as a tool for progress.
What is sassiness?
To me, sassiness is confidence and self-love, and the ability to draw on that when needed.
When were you last sassy?
I’ve done a lot of interviews recently with platforms that I perceive to promote classism within the creative industry, or sexism within Science Fiction. Whilst infiltrating those spaces is important, they love to give you leading questions like “now women have started watching science fiction…”. Calling that out has me feeling very sassy!
What would be your vision of a queer utopia?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as we’re addressing utopian visions in the next issue – I think for me it’s somewhere community-led whether that be communism, socialism or xenofeminism as our queer identities are often at odds with capitalism.
My personal utopia would be colourful, diverse, and filled with OTT looks! Somewhere between the alliance of Alpha, a 90’s Thierry Mugler catwalk and a Janelle Monae music video.
Where do you see your zine fitting into that narrative?
I think it provides a space for those fantasies to see the light of day, and for women, LGBTQIA+ and POC creatives to showcase their own personal utopias! Science Fiction has and continues to shape the future (or at least its aesthetics) like no other film genre, making erasure within the film industry a political act.
How do you balance creating a zine alongside her projects such as work and just life in general?
It’s a constant work in progress! I do find it very difficult, and that’s why Vagina Dentata Zine isn’t as frequent as other magazines/zines. I come from a working class background and like a lot of zine-makers completely self-fund the project. Any profits go directly towards the printing costs for the next issue.
In the past year alongside my creative practice I’ve worked as a Teaching Assistant, Personal Stylist, Sales Assistant, Painter and Decorator, and Cleaner… anything to fund my art! I think this is something people are talking about more than ever thanks to the Geoffrey
Owens story. The way people banded together and used the opportunity to discuss underpaying artists and classism was important.
Most artists cannot survive on their art alone, and hiding and shaming ourselves for side-hustles works in favour of those who underpay us. The more transparent we are, the more we can push for change.
We’re about to launch the call-out for Issue 003, so follow for your chance to submit:
Available to purchase online: