Venus Zine magazine started off its life in 1995, the creation of Amy Schroeder, then a 19-year-old women’s studies major at Michigan State. The zine covered “women in music, art, film, fashion, and DIY culture because not a lot of other publications do,” Amy would say when asked about her quarterly. Since its debut, the world has changed, and now, with a new owner and a new editor-in-chief who hope to increase circulation by broadening the publication’s appeal, Venus is getting a makeover.As a Venus Zine reader, I have to admit the magazine was due for a revamp. While I always loved the coverage of smart, less-mainstream women, Venus looked a little dated when it arrived in my mailbox, even if the content was good. At a time when websites often report on the same stuff as glossies, print stories should have pretty visuals to go with the words, and Venus often came off as a little too homegrown.
The Chicago-based magazine has shifted owners over the last few years. Amy sold Venus in 2006 but stayed on as editor until September 2008. It exchanged hands again in January, when Sarah Beardsley bought it for an undisclosed price. She’s been reworking Venus — there wasn’t a winter 2010 issue — and the revamped magazine was handed out at SXSW and will hit stands March 30. What can we expect? Sarah and the new editor, Jill Russell, are supposedly increasing celebrity coverage and introducing marketing techniques that Sarah hopes will grow circulation from 60,000 to 200,000. Although the contents don’t seem like they’re going to be that different from looks of a press release.
I’m going to withhold my judgment until after I get my hands on a copy of the new magazine, but some have already voiced their unhappiness about the changes. One writer who interviewed for the editor-in-chief job told the Chicago Reader she thinks they’re trying to make Venus too mainstream. And Sarah herself admitted she thinks feminism is “an old-fashioned concept,” even though Venus is rooted in that same concept.
Amy doesn’t think the changes are necessarily a bad thing — maybe they show progress. “In my time at Venus, my goal was to make feminism acceptable,” she told the Reader. “When there’s a day when women get the recognition they deserve in the arts that will be a wonderful day and maybe Venus will no longer need to exist … Maybe we’re getting closer to the day when Venus doesn’t need to exist.” [Chicago Reader]