reviewed by Kimberly Villalba Wright

Published in Issue No. 18 ~ November, 1998

Even though I thought Nerve was a good magazine, Riotgrrl seems to be more playful, though a bit less erotic – despite the cover illustration of a full-figured mod girl in lingerie. At first I was a little put off by the shade of green used as a background, but it grows on you. The color also jives with the retro look of the zine.

Riotgrrl‘s playfulness is infectious. A writer’s infatuation with Hard Candy make-up is illustrated in the “Covet” section. Another writer, with great jest, complains that the president’s State of the Union Address caused her to fondle her own breast. There is even a movie review of the latest Jackie Chan flick, reviewed by the zine’s “token guy.” It’s a nice touch to have a glimpse of how the other half thinks.

Despite it’s overt playfulness, this mag does dig into some thoughtful issues. One writer criticizes Oprah, who put herself through the torture of losing a ton of weight to gain the acceptance of Vogue. Another writer pleads with Net journalists to clean up their act (an often-heard complaint, I admit). I particularly like Crankgrrl’s article “I Don’t,” a criticism of the wedding ceremony. She takes issue with many of the outdated customs, illustrating them as archaic holdovers from a thankfully bygone era when women were considered property. The articles are, for the most part, well written. The Oprah piece seems, at one point, to be a little awkward in its wording, but all in all the different articles held my interest.

Some would argue that this zine has more fluff, while Nerve has more, well … hardcore material. That may be. But if it’s fluff, it’s entertaining. And Riotgrrl does have its share of the hard stuff. They reprinted the juicy bits of the Starr Report, after all. And no, your tax dollars were not wasted.

All in all, Riotgrrl is a gas. It may not be as well organized as Nerve – there are so many sections that it gets a little overwhelming at times – but sometimes it’s fun to wander around in the maze.

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Kimberly Villalba Wright was born in Hollywood, Florida, and has spent most of her life in Mobile, Alabama. She earned a BA in English at the University of South Alabama in 1997. Her poetry has appeared in the Epiphany, Arrowsmith, Doggerel, Dicat Libre, El Locofoco, as well as Poetry Café. This fall, Wright will begin working toward an MFA in creative Writing at the University of Memphis. Wright currently resides in Kennett, Missouri.