There was a time when zines were ubiquitous and Avenue B was not the sort of place that invited tourists.
Zines – defined by the internet as a “self-published unique 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’, a roughly 5″ x 8″ rag that chronicles 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 is out loving his neighborhood.
“There is so much going on here,” he points out. “There are seven or eight galleries on or off Avenue B. I’m in the galleries all the time.”
Add to that the various events, occasional celebs and the rich history of the locale, Orr has no shortage of material.
“I have more content every month than I can put in,” he notes.
He’s put out five issues so far, covering local notables such as the photographer Godlis and former resident Iggy Pop with a print run of 120 each, probably making the $5 mag a future collector’s item. The website gets somewhat more exposure; although only recently up and running, it’s getting about 1,000 hits a month.
“My goal was to have a central place for info on art and events in the neighborhood,” he explains. “The thing that was unexpected was that there was such a demand for it. I found that there was a great hunger for something that brings together the variety of stuff that’s 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 places of nourishment reside. Networking at the popular bar ‘Lucky’ or dining at ‘Il Posto Accanto’ can lead to a chance encounter that ends up in print, such as the time that Orr met Fran Liebowitz in the Italian eatery, where she posed for pic that 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 going full speed ahead. Its publication schedule is “every month or so,” as the former political journalist — Orr worked in Washington for over 30 years — relishes the fact that “for the first time in my career, the deadlines are set by me.”
The one rule he applies is that “we are committed to not having any rules,” although he does have a motto. “Real artists, real art,” Orr declares. “No vanity galleries.”
As noted on the zine website, they “cover art, culture, business, personalities, music, poetry, photography, lifestyle and other topics with an emphasis on the many galleries and gathering spots that bring our artists and art lovers together.”
Orr is clearly enthused about his mission. “It’s an organic experience and it’s all just unfolding,” he muses. “The sky’s the limit.”
Avenue B fans can follow the scene on Instagram at @bscenezine and on the web at bscenezine.com.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.