The heyday of the zine was the 1980’s to the 1990’s before the massive onslaught of the internet, and blogs, things we take for granted these days. The only way to find like minded individuals who were into the same weird music, movies, comics etc. that you were into was to pick up “Fact Sheet Five” a magazine cataloguing different zines, find like minded individuals through ads put in zines, and word of mouth. These zines were really personal and people put their own style and personal stamps on them. There was zines on all subjects you can think of from stuff as innocent as socks and clothing to alternative music and “snuff films”. The quality and quantity varied depending on how much money the person publishing the zine had, what access to printing equipment they had etc. Some zines were really primitive, some were hand drawn and xeroxed, then there was some that looked like they could’ve been sold in grocery and convenience stores right next to “People” magazine. Some also varied in size from A5 small digest size to giant newspaper size, then there is the magazine size and “Brutarian” was a zine that was as big as a regular sized magazine, the cover and back are slick and in color and the insides are in black and white.
Unfortunately the issue I got didn’t come with the “DeCeased/Brutarian Sampler” and the fact this zine actually had a music sampler is surprising. Most zines can’t afford one tape or CD let alone the printing costs. Right off the bat “Brutarian #7” with its cover done by underground cartoonist Doug Allen pronounces itself, the cover screams “Lo Brow! Stupid! Childish!” Open it up and you’ll soon see that while the contents are what are screamed on the cover, the articles and reviews and they way their written say different. Thumbing through this thing you see that not only are there articles, reviews and interviews, there is underground comics drawn by recognizable names if your into underground comics, Jarret Huddleson being one who did the cover art for the “Garbage” compilation, a compilation of noise, metal and punk acts mainly from Japan. In this issue he takes apart Madonna (literally in drawing of course), on the “Garbage” compilation cover he gave her black eyes.
Also interviewed are Larry Buchanan, director of Z grade fare like “Mistress of the Apes” and “Creature of Destruction” for Roger Corman’s company. You also get big titted Kitten Natividad, who bore her chest for the classic dirty old man, Russ Meyer, in his movies, in the interview you find out that she was drifting towards doing hardcore porn (yeah I know you dirty perv, your searching for her name in pornhub, great minds think alike, after your done with um, whatever, come on back and cool down).
Brian Horrorwitz, who owns the awesome “Trash Palace” web site and sells very hard to find movies and other things and is in the psychobilly band, Ubangis, interviews horror punk band, Sic Kidz. Then we’re on to “Celluloid Void” where the movies of the day are reviewed, this issue came out in 1993 and there is a review on Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” and the review is actually prophetic, this was before “Pulp Fiction”, and “Brutarian” is prophetic, especially from this end line in the article: “Tarantino does get to you and he makes the whole exercise look effortless. This may not be genius but it certainly is, at the very least, prodigious talent. His pending partnership as screen writer/producer with John Woo promises to kick ass (did they end up doing a movie that I don’t know of?). Here’s hoping Hollywood wises up and starts throwing bagfuls of money at this guy.” Wow did they and depending on what your opinion of Tarantino is, that was good or bad thing.
Also “Basic Instinct”, “Army of Darkness”, Coppola’s “Dracula”, etc. to name movies and this is around when they were in theaters. Ozzy Fide reviews videos in the “Six Pack Theatre” section, to you kids out there VHS videos are bulky, black rectangular objects that played pictures, you could throw a VHS tape at somebody’s head and knock them out. He gives movie beer cans depending on how good they are. He reviews “Universal Soldier”, “Poison Ivy”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1992) etc. He shits on a lot of movies even if he likes them and its hilarious. “Brutarian” does book reviews in the “Brutarian Library” where various books that offend the common reader are reviewed, again “Brutarian” doesn’t disappoint or bore, the people who write the reviews make something interesting something you normally wouldn’t give attention to. Then we’re on to music with “Audio Deprivation” but “Brutarian” doesn’t limit its musical reviews to 1990’s alternative college radio rock and punk bands like a lot of zines did back in the day, nope they cover it all, metal, punk, garage, rockabilly etc. which endears me to “Brutarian”. Granted there was a lot of zines tailored to different people with different tastes in music and movies. “Brutarian” will review a death metal album in one column and a 1960’s revival garage band’s album in the next column.
The various contributors to this zine are a whose who of the underground, not only do you get comics by Mike Diana, Danny Hellman, Greg Fiering among others, you get other zine and underground writers contributing like Stately Wayne Manor, Greg Goodsell, Vic Stanley etc. “Brutarian” number 7, count me in!!!
Up next, right off the bat, you get a bat girl riding a missile saying on it “Bang Me Big Boy”. Again, “Brutarian #8” assaults your fragile, weak boy sensibilities. Its sexist and stupid and “Brutarian” doesn’t give one fuck what you think of it.
First interview up, they let “The Mentors” mentally rape you and laugh in your face. El Duce, and Sickie Wifebeater do their interviews drunk, I mean, how else would they do a interview? Incoherent offense spews on every page, sneering and disdain for every wimpy crybaby in the world reading this interview will have the Millennial and Z crowd running for their Starbucks Soy Latte Safe Spaces. “The Mentors” are a homophobic, misogynist, perverted, sadistic, masochistic, drug addicted, alcoholic sleaze metal band that will literally make you eat their shit.
You get comics from J. Huddleston, Greg Suss, Pat Carroll, Steve Cerio, Tom Corllette, Mike Diana and Paul Revess. The obligatory “Audio Deprivation” section that takes music to the wood shed, Deicide’s “Amon: Feasting the Beast”, The New Bomb Turk’s “Destroy-O-Boy”, Geto Boys’ “Uncut Dope”, and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Rockin’ My Life Away” are among the discs given a spanking along with “Swingin’ Singles” a column on singles and EPs. You get an article on the insane genius Joe Meek by Steve Jefferies, Joe did the infamous 1960’s instrumental “Telstar” among other pieces of music, Joe was Schizophrenic and thought he was from a different planet, he also thought his land lady was spying on him he ended up killing her with a stolen shot gun and then himself.
So if you can, get a hold of any old copies of “Brutarian” their out there on ebay and there is some back issues to read for free on archive.org just by searching. I tried to find out more stuff on this zine and I thought I’d find more than I did given that a lot of the issues had semi famous underground cartoonists and writers. I was a dead wrong, there is bare bones info on this thing. Even combing the publisher notes. This zine is very professionally done, more so than a lot of the zines that came out in the 1980s and 1990’s. “Brutarian” wallows in its own, low brow, lo fi filth. Nobody could get away with half of what is in these two issues if they tried publishing these today.
From what I can tell this zine was edited and published by Don Salemi out of Arlington, Virginia, the most unlikely place I would think something like “Brutarian” would come from, but you’d be surprised how many messed up zines came out of the south and heartland of America, in fact, the most repressed places have the more messed up zines. “Brutarian” is for the culture Brute in all of us, man or woman. While it is cool that people like myself can just publish a site or blog, I miss the heyday of the zines when the only way to put out your “blog” was to draw, write, type, print and xerox copies of your very personal zine. Don’t get me wrong, there is still some people who do it old school and to them I say “I am glad your keeping the true flame alive”.