Diseased Pariah News Married Rage and Hilarity in the '90s

Just when AIDS was reaching it's pinnacle of sympathy schmaltz in the media, the 'zine brought a breath of fresh black humor. Now 23 years later, a new generation is discovering it online.

BY Christopher Harrity

July 09 2013 11:40 AM ET UPDATED: July 09 2013 11:40 AM ET

In 1990 the disease and it's ravages were bad enough. But then the overload of sanctimonious sop became too much to bear. Weepy gay men's choruses, Lifetime movies with "brave" heterosexual stars losing weight to play AIDS patients, and even ACT UP's sometimes sanctimonious rage seemed to drain our spirits.

Diseased Pariah News' creators Tom Shearer and Beowulf Thorne (née Jack Foster, aka Danger Penis) came like superheroes to the rescue giving voice to an energetic black humor about living with the infection.

The format of the 'zine was perfectly disposable and cheap to produce. It almost foretold of the internet itself, which eventually eclipsed the need for 'zines with their digital counterpart, blogs.

Shearer died in 1991, while he was in the middle of putting together the second issue. Thorne passed away in 1999. Tom Ace, who joined DPN’s editorial team in 1991, continued to run the magazine until its last issue in 1999.

In that decade, DPN gave readers, mostly people with HIV or AIDS, the courage to laugh out loud about the state of your body. There was no whiff of victimhood anywhere in it's pages with articles like:

“AIDS Barbie” and “Kaposi’s Sarcoma Ken”
“Get Fat, Don’t Die!” (recipes)
“Top Ten Ways to Avoid Bruises From Sitting With a Bony Ass”
“Are You a Serocloseted Republican?”
“The Well-Dressed AIDS Terrorist”
"Aunt Kaposi" (advice)

Thankfully, a new generation of readers is discovering Diseased Pariah News, on Tome Leger's digital archive of issues. You can also find out more from Tom Allen's excellent article on Vice.com.

Waiyde Palmer's intact collection with sanitized strip protector still attached

Tags: Features

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