Flipside, originally known as Los Angeles Flip Side, was a punk zine published in Whittier and Pasadena, California from 1977 to 2000. In addition to publication of the magazine, the magazine was associated with its own record label, Flipside Records, releasing vinyl records and compact discs beginning in 1978.
As one of the first and longest running U.S. punk rock fanzines, this publication extensively chronicled the world of independent and underground music during this era. Known for its highly opinionated cast of writers, Flipside evolved from a photocopied fanzine to a magazine produced by web offset printing and featuring glossy covers.
Los Angeles Flip Side was launched in 1977 in Whittier, California by five Whittier High School friends, including editor and publisher Al Kowalewski. The initial issues of the publication were produced by means of a photocopy machine, with Kowalewski's first modest goal set at selling 1,000 copies per issue. Beginning with a tiny local distribution in a few Los Angeles area record stores, within two years the publication had grown sufficiently to support sheet-fed offset printing on heavy white stock for production, with sales tallied in 12 American states and four countries. Later issues were produced on newsprint via a high speed web press and included a glossy magazine cover.
By the magazine's sixth anniversary in the summer of 1983, the press run had grown to 6,500 for America, with an additional printing in Germany for European distribution.
Flipside fanzine put on a Burning Man-style festival in California's Mojave Desert at a location known as Jawbone Canyon for several years during the mid-1990s. It was much smaller and more localized than the actual Burning Man festivals and often featured bands that Flipside released on their own label. Special guests included Fugazi, The Offspring and Hawkwind's Nik Turner.
For several years, the publishers also produced punk rock records under the label name Flipside Records. Inspired by the ability of small local labels such as Dangerhouse Records and Slash Records, Kowalewski and Peter Landswick launched the Flipside label in 1978.
In 1979, Kowalewski recalled his own experiences in an effort to inspire additional DIY labels:
"...So anyway me and Pete were eating a pizza one day and Pete said, 'Ya know, Al, we oughta start a record company. We though about it a while and we decided that if Dangerhouse could put out records and if Chris Ashford could put out records and if Slash could put out records, then we could put out records, too.... In the next four months we (mostly Pete, he's the president of Flipside Records) found out all about putting out a private single. We found out about mastering and labels and pressing and acetates and waiting and sleeves and waiting and now we know all there is to know.... The moral of this story is 'If we can do it, you can do it.' So everybody release your own singles!"
Bands on the roster included Detox, Doggy Style, Bulimia Banquet, Anti-Scrunti Faction, Babyland, Sluts for Hire, Popdefect, Paper Tulips, and Sandy Duncan's Eye. Some of the most sought after Flipside releases are the "Flipside Video Fanzine" series released in the early 1980s, which were collections of performances of punk bands such as Black Flag, Agent Orange, Love Canal, T.S.O.L. and Social Distortion.
The editors and staff writers contributing to Flipside were jokingly referred to as the "Staph," particularly during the fanzine's earlier years. Key contributors included the following:
- See for example, masthead of Los Angeles Flipside, whole no. 14 (Spring 1979), pg. 2.
- Al Kowalewski, Editorial, Los Angeles Flipside, whole no. 16 (August 1979), pg. 2.
- Hudley Flipside, "Bio/CV," hudleyflipside.org/
- "FS 39: Six Years!" Flipside, whole no. 39 (Summer 1983), pg. 2.
- Al Kowalewski, "Flipside Records??" Los Angeles Flipside, whole no. 14 (Spring 1979), pg. 8.
- Hudley Flipside, "Flipside Fanzine Staph: Those who worked on Los Angeles Flipside Fanzine 1979 to 1989," www.hudleyflipside.org/
- Flipside 30 Year Memorial. —Web index of links relevant to the fanzine
- Flipside fan page —Facebook page hosted by Flipside alumni Ed Dawson and Joe Henderson
- "Flipside Fanzine Staph: Those who worked on Los Angeles Flipside Fanzine 1979 to 1989," www.hudleyflipside.org/