Cristy Road is a queer punk-rocker radical feminist Cubana artist and writer; her career as a 'zinester dates back to the 7th grade and a time when she struggled with personal gender and identity issues, masking over her true feelings with a combination of deep-felt loneliness and an obsession with the band Green Day. And it's Green Day that led her into the 'zine world.
"I started my Green Day fanzine in 1996. I wanted to be in the punk community, to really contribute to its politics. Then, it snowballed, and I started to also do interviews of local band punk bands and stuff like that. I got a positive response, so I started being more open with with my identity, and I became more political. The last two issues of Green'Zine were about mental health and the community response to violence that happens in queer communities."
The increasingly politicized Road graduated from the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, and eventually landed in Brooklyn, with new ideas boiling. Though she loved the milieu of the Xerox machine, she was ready to move on.
"I was at a turning point in life. I had just moved to New York City, and started thinking, 'I want this to have a spine. I want it to be accessible outside of a small community. So it became a book. It seemed like the biggest opportunity for me to set myself apart from the DIY punk lifestyle as a writer -- though that is still my lifestyle." That urge turned into her first illustrated paperback book, the autobiographical Indestructible.
"Then I went on the Sister Spit tour, and it was so amazing: There were all these great queer writers, and it had a summer camp feeling to it. I learned so much about myself and how I can still be real to myself and my politics and still progress as a writer."
A second book, Bad Habits: A Love Story, followed, and Road is currently working on Spit and Passion, a full-on graphic novel that follows the painful arc of finding herself as a queer teen.
"It's a coming-out memoir about coming out and being obsessed with Green Day when I was in the 7th grade in 1994 in Miami -- a realistic take on how difficult it was, how my loneliness and Green Day were all that I had. The book is about staying in the closet and surviving. I did some destructive things, but found that initial moment when you feel completely lost. I hope it encourages other people to tell their story, too. Everyone has their own Green Day, or at least its equivalent."
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And for others seeking to build personal underground empires on a foundation of sweat and radical thinking, Road says go for it: "Do what you want as long as you really believe in it. If it's something you really want to share, don't think about whether or not it's marketable or if you can make money off of it. If you are all about it, then in grand scheme, it is a marketable thing."
Cristy Road will read from Spit and Passion and other works tonight at 8 p.m. at the Denver Zine Library, 2727 West 27th Avenue (enter on the right side of the building). Admission is free. On March 26, she'll deliver a keynote speech at the CSU Women's Conference at the Lory Student Center in Fort Collins. There is a $5 registration fee; call 719-429-6704 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for information.