The renowned culture blogger talks grunge, tattooed ladies and Courtney Love.
Since 2009, Melbourne-based Renee Ruin has been sharing her love of the dark arts with the rest of the world. What began as a personal scrapbook of sorts is now a portal to an Aladdin’s cave of interviews, features, sounds and pictures covering all the entities that Renee cares about, from Suicide Girls to tattoo artists and bands. I recently spoke to the 32-year-old via email about her passions, inspirations and the book of personal writings she has recently had published.
How old were you when started gravitating towards the sort of fashion, music and other stuff you now write about on your blog? What attracted you to it?
I’d have to say very young. My dad had me rocking out to AC/DC and Pink Floyd by the time I was 5. My dad was young as far as parents go and he was always really into music and film so that started to rub off on me very quickly. Having young parents I was always exposed to whatever pop culture was going around at the time and different types of people.
What was the main impetus for starting your website? Does it have any sort of mission statement?
Originally it was just an outlet for all the rad things I had seen. I overindulge in everything. It quickly became a great way to showcase awesome fashion and art that I had come into contact with and rad people I had met on my way. The ethos behind the site was always only post what you like. I won’t post brands or artists that I really do not like just for more reader hits or promo. Everything I post, I post for a reason. I disabled the comments function on the site from day one for this reason. I never felt like I needed to justify or explain why I posted the content I posted. It was always: “Here it is. Like it or don’t.”
I was able to turn a simple blog into a much more journalistic-focused blog by running features and interviews with artists, designers, musicians and models. I got the most attention from the site with my “Who’s That Girl?” features. They were personally most important to me. It was a way of showcasing amazing unique women who were gorgeous AND talented, something I felt most media was leaving out. It was always about the body and the face and never about the whole package. My mission was to show that these girls weren’t just hot tattooed babes but real living, breathing beings who more often than not do rad things.
Who are your all-time role models and inspirations, creatively or otherwise?
I’m a total 90s grunge kid so it’ll come as no surprise that one of my all time idols is Courtney Love.
My attention had always been more on Courtney and her band Hole and after Kurt’s death I clung to it and all the emotional carnage that followed. My mother always told me boys don’t like outspoken girls or strong girls. Kurt proved her wrong and this made me even more fixated on his relationship with Courtney Love. He spoke with such honesty and respect about his wife and his view of women was so different to the general consensus I grew up around. What I loved about Courtney and still do is that she makes no apologies for who she is: “This is me, good, bad, ugly.”
My interest in Grunge introduced me to ‘riot grrrl’ music and the ideology behind it. Bands like Babes in Toyland, L7, Bikini Kill, Sonic Youth and Hole all had smart strong independent women in the forefront. I became passionate and motivated about women’s rights and feminism and I wanted to rule the world. I felt more empowered than I ever had and riot grrrl proved that you didn’t have to give up your femininity to achieve it.
I have a lot of writing inspirations and its impossible to only mention one. One of the most important being JT Leroy (aka Laura Albert). Her books and her writing struck a lot of emotional chords with me and tackled a lot of demons I myself had been dealing with internally. I am fortunate to be able to call JT/Laura a dear friend of mine. Her support and encouragement of my own journey and writing has been an incredible gift and motivator over the past 3 years.
One of the things I like most about your blog is that it celebrates women but there’s also a definite sense of inclusivity regarding gender and sexuality. Can you talk a bit more about that?
Thank you. I think it’s a central theme for the site. I am very encouraging of other women and talented women alike. It’s always been important to me to maintain the diversity and uniqueness of women. I have done a lot of work with gender and sexuality so it’s not surprising that those themes continue to pop up in one form or another. I think it’s important that women can embrace their own identities and sexuality and that they can also feel good about themselves and more importantly about other women. More often than not it’s women who are putting other women down. I wanted to put a more positive vibe out there. We are all on the same team, you know? Why are we competing and trying to constantly shoot each other down?
As regards your current tastes, what are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?
I have been listening to a lot of new stuff. Wavves, Var, Ice Age and Dead Swans have been on heavy rotation on iTunes lately. I’ve been revisiting a lot of old classics too, lots of Jesus and Mary Chain, Ministry and Rowland S Howard.
I have far too many half-read books and not enough time to read them! I’m in the middle of “Girlvert: A Porno Memoir” by Oriana Small right now. It’s a really raw and no-holds-barred account of her time in the porn industry. I’m looking forward to interviewing Oriana at some stage.
I’m always watching TV series and movies. I’m an addict to say the least.
Do you have a wishlist for people you’d like to interview?
Henry Rollins, Courtney Love & Vincent Gallo are my dream interviews.
You’ve recently had some writings published called ‘Wounds’. Tell us a bit more about it.
I have been writing, whether it be stories or poetry, since I was a child. I used to win awards and be right into it and then I kind of lost my way. Everywhere I have lived I have had loads of journals and books filled with writing and I’ve always dreamed of having work published. I gauged quite a bit of interest with my writing through social networks and I decided I would bite the bullet and publish some of my own work. Wounds Vol. 1 is the first instalment. It is a compilation of writing and poetry from over the past few years. It is very persona and it was an enormous cathartic exercise to say the least.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to say thank you of course to you for shining the spotlight on me and an even bigger thank you to the readers who continue to keep reneeruin.com alive and beating.
Picture credit: Charley Greenfield
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