If Etsy and Pornhub had a baby, we’d get Witchsy.

katepenelope1

Witchsy is an alternative e-commerce site for artists who are oftentimes considered too abrasive or bold for more watered-down marketplaces. Created by Kate Dwyer and Penelope Gazin, Witchsy has been the unrivaled hub for titty pool toys, fingernails in jars, and a plethora of pleasantly disruptive art for a year. When they’re not busy maintaining an oppositional milestone for web-based businesses, Kate and Penelope are artists themselves.

In our latest installment of text message interviews, DUM DUM contributor Megan Ranger gets all up on the details of how Witchsy began, the proper terminology to describe female orgasms, and how to cultivate a thriving artistic community free of censorship.

 DUM DUM Zine: Hey! It’s Megan Ranger with Dum Dum.

Kate Dwyer: Helloooo

DDZ: Always an honor to talk to creative, badass business women. Let’s jump in! Can you send three pictures of anything in the world that’s inspiring you at the moment?  

KD: He’s so happy even though he’s already had a rough life!! Proof that you can change the world with your attitude.

 DDZ: Noooo! So brave. So tenacious. So fuzzy.  

KD: And Pony Sweat!!

And Penelope too (I love my friends and am inspired by them, but especially P)

Penelope Gazin (PG): Kate is such a good friend – I love her

DDZ: Between the bravest pup on the planet and this beautiful friendship, my heart is thoroughly warmed. How did you two meet?

KD: We met because Penelope was in the greatest band of all time called Sadwich. I played my first show with her when I was working on my project Feeling Feelings.

I kept bugging her to hang out after that. Making friends as an adult is hard; it requires persistence and dedication without seeming creepy.

DDZ: It’s true though! I feel like you can’t ask for someone’s number without them assuming you’re tryna get down on it. It’s the worst. But I’m glad you’ve mastered the art. If you were to compare yourselves to any iconic duo, who would you choose to best describe your friendship?

PG: Pinky and the Brain. Kate’s Brain. Zonks!

DDZ: YES. Elaborate.

PG: I am a mentally disabled rat and Kate is a genius with unlimited ambitions

KD: Every day we try and escape our cage and try and take over the world but always fail, but still keep trying.

deep

DDZ: Snaps, dude. Pretty effective extended metaphor.

 KD: Penelope’s animating strippers and so close to finishing

 PG: I’m about to come

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 5.56.45 PM

DDZ: ☔️☔️☔️

That’s rad. I’m jealous of that butt.

PG: Kate modeled for me

DDZ: Also I’ve always wondered: is it not accurate to say “cumming” when referring to a woman’s orgasm? Or is it kind of tomato/tomatoe.

PG: It’s definitely cumming the way I do it! Wink. And yes Kate is a magical social fairy and when we met I liked her but was a little confused by her initially, but I spent 5 mins one on one with her and was sold immediately.

DDZ: Her not creepy charm worked on you! So when did you decide to get into business together?

KD: Penelope was living in New York and I would call her pretty regularly. The idea stemmed from Etsy banning Witchcraft and occult items. Just seemed pretty dumb to censor. We started talking about it and that was that.

DDZ: Yea! I read that a lot of Penelope’s art was getting flagged on Etsy for nudity and the like. Since nobody’s ever seen a boob before or anything. What kind of artists do you aim to give a platform to via Witchsy? Is there anything you would consider “too much” for the site?

KD: We haven’t had this happen yet, but we’ve already agreed that if anything were to go against something we believe we’d connect with the artist and try and understand the context and why. That being said, if we feel like someone is creating art that we no longer agree with, we could take them off the site. I’m not going to let Witchsy fall or become a hellhole because someone wants to be a racist or sexist asshole uncensored. That’s not the artistic community that we wanted to create. The site is an extension of everything Penelope and I love.

DDZ: Totally. I think it’s rad that you both want the space to be as free of artistic limitations as possible, as long as someone doesn’t abuse their freedom by being a total dick.

 PG: I would love to murder someone for Kate one day.

 DDZ: Anyone specific? Hopefully not me “This pushy ass bish askin me 21 questions n shit”

 PG:  He knows who he is.

 DDZ: Guess we’ll have to wait to find out in the obits.

 PG: “Witchsy condones murder”

KD: Hahah, jesus I dunno if I want anyone dead.. yet

PG: I want them all dead for you- anything for you baby

*face is covered in blood Penelope leans in and kisses Kate and now blood is dripping from her mouth. They walk off into the horizon*

DDZ: Holy shit, hahahah. Maybe it’s the Scorpio in me, but I wouldn’t mind if a few people just happened to fly over the Bermuda Triangle or something. “Dumdum zine contributor endorses death by a freak accident. Click here to find out which one!”

 KD: Just seems like a lot of work. Plus, I think people find it more disturbing if they exist and you could not care less about them. I’ll let them sit in that.

PG: Fuck, Kate…so true. Kate’s always right. We endorse emotional murder. Kate and I are very good at ignoring idiots.

KD: Drama free 2017!

PG: We don’t let idiots get under our skin.

DDZ:  Sit and spin on that  very true. I’m just petty and angsty sometimes. Do you get a lot of people coming at you sideways?

PG: Let an idiot get to you, and you become the idiot – Mother Teresa.

KD: No, not really

PG: But it is just gonna happen sometimes.

KD: Exactly.

 PG: It’s a part of making things and sharing what you make.

KD: I mean sure, sometimes people are annoying, but it never should feel good to make anyone feel bad. I get the temptation but it is never worth it.

DDZ: True. Which brings me to Keith Mann! I heard you made him up as a fake employee to forward all particularly manslpainly dinguses to. Do you still have to use his email address sometimes? 

KD: He’s been on vacation for a while

PG: Him and his wife are trying for a baby, so he’s focusing on that. And his fantasy football league. But his guilty pleasure is watching the Bachelorette with his wife, Tracy.

DDZ: Bless them

KD: He’ll come back after we find husbands and drop our cute little business hobby.

DDZ: Pfft. So never,  I’m hoping. Well I mean, unless you want a husband. I didn’t mean it that way. “DUM DUM contributor hopes local artists never find love”

 KD: Haha, it’s fine. We have each other regardless.

katepenelope2

DDZ: Definitely true ❤️  Moving on! I’m sure you’ve ran into the obvious pitfalls of being women in business. Was there anywhere you may have found unexpected support while creating Witchsy? Unexpected backlash?

PG: Coding is very hard– our boobs are always getting in the way.

KD: I think ultimately being women adds another element, but overall we’ve been very lucky to get tons of community support and belief in us. When we first started, we had almost 100 artists agree to be apart of the site without ever seeing it. People believed in what we were making, which was really special for us and helped us persevere even when things took too long or we felt slightly hopeless. Just having Penelope as a partner has been a huge part. We balance each other pretty well, so when I was down she pulled us up and vice versa.

 DDZ: You seem to complement each other very well. I’m very proud of what you’ve accomplished thus far! And the impact you’ve had on e-commerce, as a whole. i think it’s rad you give people a space where they don’t need to be afraid of putting everything into their art and without having to compromise for the sake of algorithms and filters. Your business model is very DIY. What do you find most satisfying about being DIY artists, as well as supporting a community of DIY artists?

PG: We really just want to get sponsored by Monster energy drink. We don’t care about art.

KD: I think it’s important to create spaces for people to create without being beholden to someone else’s agenda or influence. Outside of us selecting the artists, we just want people to make whatever they want. It bums me out when you have businesses that only buy “what will sell.” That kills innovation. We want this to show what is possible on all parts of the spectrum creatively.

Plus, putting everyone on the same playing field allows everyone to inspire one another. Right now, there is a huge rift because everyone has their own stores, own “brand” that they are trying to build out. It’s become very individual. We want to show artistic communities still exist. It’s just different because of the internet, but it can still have everyone together.

 DDZ: I feel like I see something totally new every time i go on Witchsy.. I can still see the unifying community aspect for sure, but I definitely think a wide range of artists are represented. In regards to the DIY aspect… were you inspired by any zines when creating Witchsy, or in any other aspect in your life?

 PG: Yes, definitely! I grew up making zines and collecting them. I was very inspired by DIY culture in general and we really try to infuse that energy into Witchsy.

KD: I guess just the idea of just creating a concept and following through. Making it work no matter what. I think that’s hard for people because they are terrified of failing, lazy or both. That’s what I apply to my own work; just do it then show everyone. I had no money when we were starting Witchsy. Super broke, walking dogs, just doing whatever I could because I knew we’d figure it out. If the idea is there, you can make it happen by pushing and if not, move on to the next thing. The DIY spirit to always keep going has been deeply ingrained in Witchsy.

 DDZ: Were there any zines in particular that you’ve read/continue to read?

 KD: Not really zines, but I do think spaces like Junior High, Non Plus Ultra (RIP) and Gnar Burger have shown me that it just takes passion and drive to build it. Sean Carlson also was an inspiration to me, watching and working with him while he built FYF Fest to the insanity it is now. I feel very lucky to be in LA and have been connected to people that have that DIY drive to keep going and see the highs and lows of making something that’s special for you and the rest of the community.

 DDZ:  Totally. Although I can’t stand LA sometimes, I’ll always appreciate the ambition and tenacity of everyone in it. Forever inspired  can you tell me a little bit about your band Family Pet?  

KD: For sure! It’s my sister and my band. I got tired of garage rock and the chiller 90′s throwback tunes. We just finished recording and are finalizing mixing our album. It’s really exciting. It’s got a lot of attitude. Trying to become a true rock n roll brat.

DDZ: You’re almost like if Courtney Love and Dolly Parton adopted Kathleen Hanna. When does the album come out? Do you have any shows coming up?

KD: Album is tentatively coming out end of July, but may be delayed for physical release reasons. No shows right now, my head is still in recording land.

DDZ: That’s coming up! Stoked to see how it comes out. From what I’ve heard thus far, it’s going to be rad! And you have a few music videos in the works right?

 KD:  Those are coming out.. soon? lol

DDZ: Can’t wait In the realm of events… you have a big one coming up yes? Witchsy’s first birthday?!?

KD: Yess. Shooting some promo with Big Bud Press, and Penelope is finishing the flyer in the next hour. Right P….?

PG: Yes!

 DDZ:  Exciting! Will there be pizza though?

 KD: Tacos.

DDZ: EVEN BETTER.

KD: Yey yey.

DDZ: Hell yea! I’m inviting myself

KD: You are invited!

bigbud

 DDZ: Shux! What would you say is the biggest takeaway from your first year in business?

 KD: Always be good.

PG: I hate capitalism and question why I have chosen to be so actively involved in it. But then, I look into Kate’s eyes and she is my princess, my world, and I would murder anyone for her. I actually hope I do get to murder someone for her one day. In fact, maybe I already have. Maybe I already have.

DDZ: Clutch. Okay one more question! Obligatory closer: what inspires you as an artist?

 KD: Love and spite.

PG: Kate.

DDZ: Precious ❤️  

Thursday, July 6th 2017