There was a time when zines were ubiquitous and Avenue B wasn’t the kind of place that beckoned tourists.
The zines – defined by the Internet as a “self-published single work of minority interest, usually reproduced via photocopier” – were sold everywhere from Tower Records to “See Hear” (a shop in the East Village dedicated to them ), and Avenue B was the Wild West, despite being on the East Side.
Of course, times have changed, and Scott Orr is here to document the present and the past with his brand new publication ‘BScene Zine’, an approximately 5″ x 8″ rag chronicling the life and art on and off the avenue.
Whenever he has time to spare from his day job as a writer/editor for a global think tank, Orr loves his neighborhood.
“There’s so much going on here,” he says. “There are seven or eight galleries on or off Avenue B. I’m in galleries all the time.”
Add to that the various events, occasional celebrities and rich history in the area, Orr has no shortage of material.
“I have more content each month than I can fit,” he notes.
It has published five issues so far, covering local notables such as photographer Godlis and former resident Iggy Pop with a circulation of 120 each, likely making the $5 magazine a future collector’s item. The website is a bit more exposed; although recently operational, it receives around 1,000 visits per month.
“My goal was to have a central place for information on art and events in the neighborhood,” he explains. “What was unexpected was that there was such demand. I found there was a great hunger for something that brings together the variety of things happening around the B.”
Living on Avenue B in the Christodora – Mr. Pop’s former residence – gives Orr easy access to the street where many of his favorite watering holes and eating places reside. Networking at the popular ‘Lucky’ bar or dining at ‘Il Posto Accanto’ can lead to a chance encounter that ends up in print, like the time Orr met Fran Liebowitz in the Italian restaurant, where she posed for a photo which was seen in the last issue.
Assisted by marketing director Jake Henzo and photo editor Daryl-Ann Saunders, who is also a contributor, BScene is moving full speed ahead. His publishing schedule is “every month or so” as the former political reporter – Orr worked in Washington for more than 30 years – relishes the fact that “for the first time in my career, deadlines are set by me” .
The only rule he enforces is “we promise to have no rules”, although he does have a motto. “Real artists, real art,” says Orr. “No vanity galleries.”
As stated on the zine’s website, they “cover art, culture, business, personalities, music, poetry, photography, lifestyle, and other topics with an emphasis on many galleries and gathering places that bring together our artists and art lovers”.
Orr is clearly excited about his mission. “It’s an organic experience and everything just happens,” he muses. “Sky is the limit.”
Avenue B fans can follow the scene on Instagram at @bscenezine and on the web at bscenezine.com.