by Scott Hefflon
Yet another eyebrow-raising issue from the fine folks at POPsmear. Notorious for outrageous stunts (and then for not backing down when the lawyers and threats pile up and stores threaten to pull issues), POPsmear continues the tradition with a cover feature on a hermaphrodite who works for the postcard printing company (the part of POPsmear that actually makes money). While it’s up to the reader whether this is sexy, interesting, informative, crass, or just for shock-value, at least someone had the, ahem, balls to do it. For whatever that’s worth. The last issue had a split Evel Knievel/ David Lee Roth feature, and this issue has a spotlight on Thor, the aging blond beefcake metal dork you’ve probably never heard of, and never will again. But that’s what’s so great about POPsmear… I mean, who else would have the “poor judgment” to consistently and intentionally cover such things? The closest thing to POPsmear is the “news reports” on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. It’s tabloid kitsch, but it’s intentionally so. Like The Daily Show, somewhat notable people “report” on the bizarre behavior and products this world has to offer. With full-color glossy pages and layout that ranges from functional (think Entertainment Weekly, and that’s by no means an insult), to Teen Beat bubblegum, to an upscale version of ‘zines’ “cram it in with a bunch of pictures, it’ll fit” aesthetic POPsmear stands alone both editorially and artistically.
For those kinda getting the impression that the ‘zine revolution is merely a slightly more underground culture of icon-worshipping, ‘zines (especially music-based ‘zines) being merely a cheaper vessel in which advertisers sway editorial content urging readers to buy their crap instead of someone else’s, POPsmear is a welcome item. While not exactly a breath of fresh air (it kinda reeks of a slightly more intelligent version of fart jokes), it’s certainly worth looking into.
(50 West 23rd St. 6th Fl. New York, NY 10010 www.popsmear.com)