“A few months ago, the two of us were getting a drink on our way to a party and we ended up talking about first kisses,” explain Elizabeth Spiridakis and Marisa Meltzer in the intro for their new zine, First Kiss. “There’s something so intrinsically fascinating about first kisses: they’re awkward and funny, less revealing, maybe? — than talking about other formative adolescent experiences, like the loss of your virginity or getting your first period.” Here, we talk with both editors about compiling the zine.
If you’re in New York, be sure to check out their launch event tonight at the 92YTribeca, where readers will include Lesley Arfin, Tavi Gevinson, Emily Gould, Gavin McInnes, and Doree Shafrir, who has graciously allowed us to excerpt her contribution to First Kiss after the jump.
Flavorpill: Were most of the submissions from people who you didn’t know? Was reading strangers’ stories different?
Elizabeth Spiridakis: We emailed a few of our friends and colleagues that we had a feeling would have very special tales to tell, but for the most part we just put out an open call on the internet trifecta (blog/FB/twitter) and the response was pretty amazing!
Marisa Meltzer: We were surprised by how many we got — definitely over 100 — and so many were from people we’ve never met. I loved reading stories from people I didn’t know. It was like a peek into a parallel adolescent experience.
FP: Did you have a certain rubric for what was included?
ES: We had no criteria other than we both had to like it. The process was wholly based on our instincts… we made piles of favorites and compared notes and we liked almost all the same ones.
MM: The ones we loved were all different lengths and tones but were honest about that rite of passage. I think we have certain weaknesses, like references to ’90s clothing fads (Starter jackets, scrunchies, chokers), and summer camp, but one of the best was Katie Notopoulos’s, which just said, “teeth teeth teeth.” That’s definitely getting to the heart of something!
FP: Were there any submissions that you liked, but just didn’t work in the zine format?
MM: No, we used all the ones we loves. Jon Caramanica’s map of his first kiss or Jaimie Warren’s photos would have been much more clear if it was, say, a blog post, but we were dedicated to making a cut-and-paste zine, so blurriness was part of the program.
ES: We loved the ones that were really unconventional — I am actually surprised that we didn’t get more art submissions!
FP: Has the experienced of compiling these stories made you look at your own first kiss story differently?
ES: Only in the way that it’s apparently kinda rare that I still see mine on occasion (we are Facebook friends). A lot of our stories ended with “..and I never saw him again.”
MM: had always thought that I was SO old when I had my first kiss — nearly 16 — but then one of the themes that came up again and again was people thinking they were way too old to be having their first kisses. I took a lot of comfort in that.
FP: Is there a writer (dead or alive) who you would have loved getting a submission from?
MM: Oh wow, so many. Joan Didion. Liz Phair, in song form. Kenny Shopsin. Gisèle Prassinos.
ES: Kelly Cutrone. Serge Gainsbourg. Myself right after it happened to get the real untarnished-by-time story.
[Editor's note: What follows is an excerpt from First Kiss by Doree Shafrir, who is one of our favorite writers. Read more about her here.]
The summer I was 13 I got back to overnight camp and everyone had hit puberty with a vengeance. I’m not talking about getting your period or having to shave under your arms, or getting zits and/or tits. I’m talking about how it suddenly seemed like every girl in my bunk had decided that this was the summer they were going to begin exploring the genitals of the opposite sex while I was more interested in learning how to water-ski.