PLEASE NOTE: These are MY views ONLY. These do not in any way represent the views or opinions of anyone else from Bizarre Magazine or the publisher
After having to bite my tongue so hard it now resembles a bloody pulp, I am truly devastated to finally confirm that after 17 years of publication, Bizarre Magazine has closed, and the February issue (on sale 20 Jan) will be its last ever issue.
Since becoming a massive, massive fan in the early 2000s, Bizarre is and will always be my favourite ever magazine. As a young journalist, I was overjoyed to write my first feature for the mag – an article about bizarre prostitutes, entitled ‘oh what a lovely whore’ – published in 2005. Since then I’ve been unbelievably lucky to write and edit sections for the mag (and website) on many occasions, working with some of the most incredible, talented and unique individuals in the business, each of them blessed with their own quirky super powers that you’ll never find in many other offices, that I’m very certain!
Bizarre’s troubles in recent years have been there for all to see for everyone who stuck by us. It became a long, drawn-out struggle. Nothing was more heartbreaking for me than reading comments that the mag had gone drastically downhill over months/years, especially right after working until 3am some nights on various features, which I would pen almost purely out of passion and intrigue. Truth is, as a fan, I agreed with many of the comments (at least the more insightful ones). However, for reasons far, far beyond the editorial team’s control, and due to ever-decreasing budgets in this increasingly print magazine-unfriendly world, producing this incredible magazine had become an impossible task. By the end, the entire magazine was being put together by just four freelance staff, albeit very, very passionate ones.
But I’d far, far rather dwell on the plus points – and there are MANY of those.
To some people, Bizarre was trashy, grotty, juvenile and full of cheap shocks (one medical fetish dominatrix actually declined my request for an interview because she considered Bizarre to be immature and voyeuristic, describing it as a “rubbish comic for people who find Jackass funny”!!?).
To others it was a brave, irreverent eye on a strange and colourful world, reporting on areas other publications were too scared to touch (although that is certainly not the case these days). But Bizarre could be as educational and informative as it was shocking, it could be as funny as it was tragic, and it could certainly be as humane, relevant and heartwarming, as it was provocative, exploitative and grisly.
To me Bizarre was always a celebration of the individual and individuality. It was against prejudice and a kick in the balls of normality. And now that I have become something of a human cat in recent years, I certainly think it represents me more than any other publication possibly could!
If there is one other fantastic thing I can take away from Bizarre, it’s that I still managed to write some truly incredible, once-in-a-lifetime features for this non-conformist brand, even when we were struggling – I was the first person to report on the woman who married the Berlin Wall, which I’ll forever cherish as a career high. I also interviewed belly fetishists (for which we organised a photo shoot with a bank worker in America who secretly inflated his belly with bicycle pumps), animal roleplayers (a special mention to the fantastic Mistress Liliane Hunt who, like a kinky Beatrix Potter, is warm and funny and blessed with a brilliant imagination), the Japanese corpse photographer Tsurisaki Kiyotaka, whose work for me summed up exactly what Bizarre was about – dark, dangerous and edgy, but filled with subversive wonder and powered at its core by a heart of gold.
Other stand-out features for me include the dating agency for the death industry, a first-person piece where I actually transformed into a teenage schoolboy at a 1950s roleplay school retreat near Wales (I’ll confess that I put fake tan on my legs for that shoot because I was worried about how pasty my legs were!), visiting the adorable ‘Matron’s’ naughty clinic in South-West England and being treated to an incredible slap-up meal, and hanging out chatting about all sorts of weird shit with such immeasurable industry legends as Italian horror maestro Dario Argento, Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman, Masuimi Max and Morat, Slash, Tiger Lillies, and the rock band Clutch, who possibly possess the craziest, driest humour I’ve ever encountered outside of England.
At the moment I’m still in mourning at the slow, tragic demise of this great publication. I may write more later, but for now all I can say is RIP Bizarre Magazine – you gave so many people so much, even if you were just a shadow of your former self in the end…