Coilhouse rules

Photo by Random_Tangent at

Founded by three brilliant renaissance women with roots in L.A. and the Bay, the alt-everything institution known as Coilhouse exists both as a fantastic groupblog and a quasi-quarterly magazine. According to the mission statement on their website, “Coilhouse is a love letter to alternative culture, written in an era when alternative culture no longer exists.” They cover everything from fashion to visual art to film to comics, with a wealth of youtube clips and beautiful images in all their posts. These ladies — Zoetica Ebb, Meredith Yayanos, and Nadya Lev — and their various collaborators are down with Klaus Nomi and at home with esoteric Russian literature, and more than happy to share with you what made them weird.

The print incarnation of Coilhouse is on its fifth issue, released just under a month ago and already sold out online, but still available at a variety of real-world retailers. Each incarnation of the magazine has brought new experiments in design, ranging from the subtle and inspired (eerie silver foil accents on the cover of Issue 4) to the endearingly goofy (candy-colored section frontispieces in the latest issue). This issue incorporates bonus items — a pull-out poster of Chet Zar art and two trading cards featuring images from the magazine’s Dorian Gray photoshoot. The pages of the issue itself are frantically crowded with original art, photography, and outrageous pull-quotes, but in a way that ultimately suggests raw, genuine enthusiasm.

The content of the magazine is divided between interviews, photo spreads, and primer-style features. Oh, and paper dolls. The new issue features interviews with geek luminaries like horror writer Clive Barker and power-couple Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. Former- Star-Trek -teen-turned-celebrity-blogger Wil Wheaton contributes a non-fiction piece excerpted from his recent book The Happiest Days of Our Lives, and Jess Nevins chronicles the history and highlights of Chinese pulp fiction as a formidable counterpart to the western version. Zoetica Ebb compiles attitudes on “shoe lust,” and Angeliska Polacheck provides a photo-heavy history of the dance part Gadjo Disko

Photography in the issue includes a tribute to the late fashion designer Tiffa Novoa as well as the aforementioned Dorian Gray concept series of photos. The images range from glamorous to grotesque, with an attractive post-goth pall over the whole affair.

Special-interest magazines have taken a huge hit in the past several years, as the Internet has expanded to cater to any and every niche curiosity, so one of the few ways to grab a wide community of readers (for a blog as well as a magazine) is to express a weird, specific aesthetic that crosses subcultural lines. The fact that Coilhouse is essentially a blog that congeals into a magazine a handful of times each year makes it squarely a product of Internet culture. Perhaps that accounts for why it’s so mad and overwhelming, but it also accounts for why it feels so fresh and energetic, and so engaged in the benefits of the magazine as a form of communication distinct from blogging.


I think "Guest" needs to read Charles Jencks "Post Avant Garde."

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2010 @ 9:35 pm

I will put that one on my list to read. It should be a relief from neurological science texts.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 04, 2010 @ 6:30 am

"Alternative culture is quite alive. It is fluid and changes as to shed off parts that become accepted in proper society. There will never be a time that alternative culture does not exist."

May I chime back in here and assure you that the Coilhouse tagline isn't intended to be snobby? 'Cause it's really not.

It IS meant to be contradictory-- sort of a built-in challenge to perception, labeling, pigeonholing, expectation, cultural shifts, and definition. But then again, we want to challenge perceptions, not alienate readers. For some time, we've been talking about rewriting/clarifying our Mission Statement statement on behalf of those who take it too well for our own benefit! Personally, I'm eager to get rid of some of the more "clubhouse" type lines. We've outgrown them as the Coilhouse readership, as well as our own perceptions, have expanded over the years. In fact, sooner than later, we'll probably open up a public dialog about it over on the blog, since the eternally slippery "what IS alt" discourse is a big part of how we do.

"Perhaps these women write a love letter to the latex punk, goth, steam punk and and bits cyber culture."

Okay,'re opining that our tagline dismissive/snobbish, but THAT'S your next sentence? Heee. Who says post-modernity isn't entertaining? :D

But in all sincerity, thanks for the criticism AND the kind words, Anon. We'll keep pushing boundaries, promise. Maybe not the ways you'd personally expect or approve of... but still. We're on it. ;)

Posted by Mer on Aug. 03, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

I apologize if I came across as bitter and snobbish.

As far as pushed boundaries I will keep a liquid expectation. And by that I mean is to not impose personal ideas of which boundaries to push. I will be excited to see what you do no matter what direction you take.

I guess I am one of those readers who felt alienated with your statement. I too consider myself part of alternative culture but one that is different than the one implied in Coilhouse. I sometimes do feel I cannot fit the bill of alternative, but I do what I do. I find myself a bit jealous of your freedom. I really appreciate that you want to open up a dialogue with your audience of "what is alt?" I personally do not think that alternative culture can be caught and cataloged quite yet until time passes over it to say this was this at that point in time. That is why I think your proposition of opening up a dialogue is wonderful.

I have to hold myself back with my off beat personality. I work at a public school and push the boundaries only bit by bit. I want to bring in more alternative art such as Coilhouse and educate a bit more about alternative life styles and subcultures. All this with out being fired of course. I know a few students crave to know they are not alone. I want them to see that alternative life styles are alive and well.

It pleases me greatly that the three intelligent women behind this magazine ARE surviving on their art and aspirations. The students I work with are not ready to be completely let loose; they do not have the grace and respect needed to survive like those behind the magazine. They lack some tact of knowing where they are and how to find their audience. Perhaps I am a bit over protective of them. I fear that their fragile dreams will be smashed leaving behind bitter broken hearts.

Enough of my babbling; forgive me if I came across as one of those dreaded persons who shove their agenda down others throats. Do I wish more people feel as I do, sure that's cool but boring. My desire is to be respected and understood.

Posted by Guest again on Aug. 04, 2010 @ 7:23 am

“Coilhouse is a love letter to alternative culture, written in an era when alternative culture no longer exists.”
Alternative culture is quite alive. It is fluid and changes as to shed off parts that become accepted in proper society. There will never be a time that alternative culture does not exist. Perhaps these women write a love letter to the latex punk, goth, steam punk and and bits cyber culture.
Though out time there has always been the few that break away from the norm and have quite the shocking and rejected reception. But by and by these things cease to lift a brow and are passed over as part of the daily colour.
Such a quote I find to be quite snobbish. At least the latter half of it.

However I do have to agree with the view that the magazine these creative women put together is a beautiful tribute the counter culture they are a part of. It is rich and a pleasure for the senses. The composition of the magazine is like a perfect painting, a well written song. I wish that the upcoming editions will cut the strings of stability a little more and push the edginess to the brink.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

What an unexpected and joyful surprise. It means more to me than I can say to get such thoughtful and glowing press from one of my favorite publications. I'm sure my co-editors will soon be squeeing as well.

In response to your kind words about our design experiments, I'd like to give a shout-out to our creative director, Courtney Riot. The magazine's unique design, aesthetic and style has EVERYTHING to do with her inspired contributions. She's a wonder.

Thank you again. We're waving our freak flag extra high and proud over here today.

Posted by Meredith Yayanos on Aug. 03, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

Also from this author

  • Year in Film: Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' Eclectic 2013 Countdown

  • Eternal spring

    Chris Marker's 'Le Joli Mai' remains relevant 50 years later

  • They see me rollin'

    YEAR IN FILM 2012: The "limo operas" of 2012: 'Cosmopolis' and 'Holy Motors'