The peculiar magic of Love Injection

by Kitty Drake in October 2019

Love Injection is named after the 1979 song by Trussel. A monthly fanzine celebrating the dance music scene in New York, it’s distributed free in the city via a network of record shops. The production value is purposefully low: it’s printed monochrome on cheap newsprint, and its interviews — with legends on the scene like Vince Aletti and Ladyfag — rarely have introductions. The implication is that if you’re reading this zine, you will already know who these people are. This could feel exclusionary but somehow it doesn’t: the interviews themselves are totally unpretentious — more like overheard conversations — and the whole zine is put together with such obvious love, that you feel like you’re being ushered in, rather than pushed out.

Launched by DJs Paul Raffaele and Barbie Bertisch in 2015 (who became an item while co-editing, by the way), everything from the admin to the design to the distribution is done from their home office / living room. The idea, Barbie and Paul explain over the phone from NY, is for the zine to act as a time capsule, documenting the peculiar magic of the New York dance scene. “I just don’t think you get this in other cities: a community that has been there since the early seventies just still existing, still singing and dancing together,” says Paul. “It sounds cheesy to say it, but when you look around and see every colour and sex and age singing along to one song with all their might — it gives you goosebumps.”

Love Injection is now on its 50th issue. Barbie and Paul talked us through their favourite spreads from the archive.

Issue 43, November 2018


“A really special interview for us that was executed in an ideal way. Paul interviewed Vince and Barbie shot his photos independently in-person at Vince’s home in Chelsea. He’s a collector, and we loved how much stuff he had there. We spoke a little bit about how he managed to produce so much work as a writer, while still going out. [Vince Aletti was the first person to write about disco, in an article for Rolling Stone in 1973, and he is now an art critic for the New Yorker.] We want to be able to remain present in the scene, and maintain going out quite a few times a week, without burning out. The thing about clubbing that most people don’t get — and this is why clubs are constantly at risk of closure — is that it’s about so much more than pure hedonism. The club scene in New York has historically been a place where communities who are discriminated against in the daytime — trans people, LGBT people — can come together in the night.”

Issue 48, June 2019


“New York-based photographer Guarionex Rodriguez Jr. has been key in helping us establish our photo style over the last few issues. We used to mostly use found imagery, illustration, or approved press shots but now Guarionex has helped us go for something that feels like ours, while still retaining a rough-cut feeling. Eli [Escobar, a New York DJ] and Ladyfag [a performer and curator] both have crazy schedules, so he met them at their monthly club night Battle Hymn and did this shoot in all 35mm just 30 mins before doors. Their conversation in the zine is great because it’s meandering – we wanted to keep it relatively unedited.”

Special edition, March 2019


“So we want to keep a record of the time we’re living in with the zine, but we also really want to pay tribute to where this scene came from. You don’t really go to school to be a DJ, so for us this is an opportunity to really learn about the history. This special edition of Love Injection was a collection of rare print materials from the foundational New York City record label West End Records. The archive included contributions from Ben Goldfarb, Andy Reynolds, Judy Russell, and Justin Strauss, and we curated a series of events around it at MoMA PS1.”

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