Wednesday, February 6, 2013

BIG SHOE INTERVIEW: FAQNP's RAYMOND CHA TALKS WITH KARL MARXXX


If you've ever received a gift from Colby, you've been made to feel special.  He has that knack for understanding other people at their core and figuring out just the perfect commodity that will speak to your sense of self, your ability to grow and change and your realization that aren't yet what you could be, but will eventually become.  Ok maybe all book gifts do that, but Colby is quite good at it nonetheless.  So when I received an issue of FAQNP, I knew before I finished opening the package that it was the perfect gift for me.  And it was. . . jam packed with nerdy writing and queer art, I fell in love instantly and was fortunate enough to sit down FAQNP's Raymond Cha to talk a bit about his project.


KARL MARXXX: What is FAQNP?
RAYMOND CHA: FAQNP is a zine made by and for queer nerds and their admirers. The name stands for FAQNP's A Queer Nerd Publication. The first issue was published in the spring of 2010 and comes out about every eight months or so. Themes have included: obsessions, the early internet and personal computing, travel, science fiction + fantasy, and most recently education.

KM: How do you collect submissions for the Zine? And who else works on it?
RC: I work most closely with Erich Nagler, a supremely talented graphic designer and writer, who has designed very issue. Contributors initially were friends or friends of friends. More recently, I'll meet people through the zine itself. Then they submit something for the next issue, and I usually become friends with them along the way.

KM: What distinguishes queer nerds from others in the LGBT community and why is it important to you to draw a distinction?
RC: I take a broad definition of queer nerd, which includes anyone who feels outside the mainstream of queers and nerds. I talk and write about science fiction and comics a lot because I like them. Other contributors share their nerdy take on everything from Walt Whitman to vintage typewriters. 

I thought it was interesting that queers and nerds were becoming more common and even celebrated, which I never expected to happen at this speed. Of course, this progress is a great thing overall, however, something was getting lost in the process. That something isn't something I can exactly define. The zine is about recording a slice of the queer community, hopefully in an amusing and thoughtful way.

Friends have questioned how "nerdy" I am, which makes me chuckle. Explaining my obsession with Doctor Who and learning programming languages for fun among many other nerdy pursuits quickly clarifies the answer for them. An ironic aspect of queer culture (especially in New York) is how self segregating it can be in terms of outward appearance, but also in terns of interests. We're lucky to be in New York with such a large community, however it also allows people to interact with only like-minded, similar looking people. The distinction tries to define a space that acknowledges and encourages the diversity among queers and nerds. 

KM: Are we in a nerd renaissance?
RC: I'm not sure if we're in a renaissance in the sense that the term implies a return to or revival. Nerds have been historically considered uncool. During the space race of the 60s, the rocket scientists weren't the heros, the astronauts were. Today, nerds are cool. Traditionally nerdy things like video games and programming are now mainstream. The founders of software and hardware companies are rich and famous. I like to say that everything that made me uncool in middle school is now cool.

KM: What is your favorite nerd moment in pop culture?
RC: I don't really have a favorite moment, but I think the international obsession with Harry Potter was in many ways a watershed moment in pop culture and nerd culture.  On the first day of the publication of a new installment in the series, lines of people, spanning every age and gender demographic, waited hours to buy a book about a kid who does magic. Witnessing that was amazing to me.

Actually, now that  I think about it, seeing Ian McKellen star as Gandalf in the Lord of Rings films as well as playing Magneto in the X-Men films is near the top of the list in my favorite queer nerd moments in pop culture.

KM:  Why should people read FAQNP?
I would never tell anyone to read it. I mean, a zine for queer nerds is going to have a very niche audience. Our readers tend to get the idea pretty quickly. If a print-only zine about queer nerds sounds at all interesting to you, then check it out.

KM: What else should People be reading?
RC: I really enjoy Little Joe, a magazine about queer cinema and more.
I also have been reading a lot of comics recently, and No Straight Lines is an anthology of queer comics with work covering four decades.


KM: 'Nuff said. So, be as good a gift-giver as Colby and get your besties copies of FAQNP here!!!



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