Raw Material

Ersatz Cover

Sam Pratt, Ersatz

Age: 28

Selection: "The Many Moods of the Smiley Face" (page 148)

Recent review (from the New York Times): "Long before the glossies 'discover' a pop-culture artifact, it is anointed in Sam Pratt's zine."

Sample: $2 cash from 32 Warren Street, Hudson, NY 12534

When did you launch your zine? What inspired you to do so?
Ersatz was never "launched," because I hardly knew what I was doing at the time (March 1992). It began as a flyer: Something funny happened, I typed it up, and wrote "Ersatz" on the top. It was some sort of demonic possession. Having never heard of zines, I had no idea that anyone had ever done anything like this before. I mailed out 50 of these Xeroxes. I felt a bit like a crank, which is sort of what I liked about it. You got a minute?

Why publish a zine?
I guarantee that half the people who respond to this question will respond "BECAUSE."

What can you tell us about the selection you provided for "The Book of Zines"?
The original was scratch-n-sniff, which is why you should buy issues direct from me instead of this book.

Do you publish any other zines?
No. But I've got a massive list of names for zines I'd like to start. "General Tso's Chicken Coop," for one. The naming is the fun part; the rest of the labor I farm out to sweatshops—like my idol, Kathie Lee.

Any general tips for aspiring zinesters?
Either go extremely high-tech, or extremely low. Jon Sarkin hand-makes and hand-addresses his zine "Boltflash" to a handful of people; I have a fast computer, a bone-crunching database program, and taught myself Quark Xpress over a period of years. Those are the extremes. Anything in-between will make you miserable. But most importantly: beware distributors. They're almost all crooked.

What's your favorite part of doing a zine?
The constant Letterman appearances, the ladies throwing themselves at me with shameless abandon, the old codgers who stop and point and yell, "Hey, it's the Ersatz guy! There, in the cat food aisle!"

In my other life, I'm a:
As my friend Peter says, "Oh, I only take tennis lessons."

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