“If I haven’t offended you yet,” said Sandra Kramer, publisher and editor of the Anti- Press, the Antelope Val ley’s controversial underground paper, “it just means I haven’t gotten around to it.”
Kramer, 30, of Desert Buttes (formerly known as Lake Los Angeles) also takes photographs, sells advertising and distributes the 5,000-circulation monthly publication. She started the newspaper to give her life new meaning after her 40-year-old husband committed suicide in December, 1992.
“Suddenly I had a little money and a lot of time,” she said. “I really needed a project, and there wasn’t anything in the Antelope Valley that was fun and entertaining and full of commentary. I print what nobody else will touch. Controversy is good.”
Kramer launched the Anti-Press in May with a scant 250 copies, which were immediately snapped up, generating letters and phone calls of praise and rage. “I thought, ‘Let’s see how people feel about this,’ ” she said. “And people ended up like junkies. People need it; they want it; they love it.”
Kramer and her cadre of unpaid writers take jabs at area politicians, make fun of local happenings, and spout off about regional and national issues. Recent issues included a photo of Barney the dinosaur in drag, a list of people the Antelope Valley would be better off without (laden with local politicians), the Top 10 adult video rentals, a few dark and erotic poems, and several outspoken--and sometimes outrageous--editorials.
“People with all these weird opinions can say whatever they want in the Anti-Press, as long as they don’t cuss,” Kramer said. “Our point of view is all over the place. My writers include extreme conservatives, screaming liberals and artistic people. I figure if we express all viewpoints, somewhere in there is a moderate ground.”
The publication--which, according to Kramer, is “politically acorrect"--attracts its share of enemies. It is banned from several stores, restaurants and businesses, including Antelope Valley College. A minister urged a boycott of the newspaper’s advertisers and distributors. Kramer’s printer arrived at work one day to find three bullets shot through his window, the day after he got a threatening phone call relating to printing the paper. Kramer says she receives so many obscene and threatening phone calls that her answering machine refers would-be harassers to another number--that of the county sheriff.
Local politicians are among Kramer’s biggest opponents. Lancaster City Councilman George Runner, a Republican, disdainfully describes the Anti-Press as an “inconsequential flashback to the ‘60s that takes an anti-Establishment, anti-value view of everything.”
Kramer laughs off such criticism. “City Council members don’t like me much at all,” she said. “They whine and complain about me, but they all have copies of the Anti-Press under their arms.”
Runner confesses that he does read the newspaper. “But only because it gets delivered to me,” he said.
Lancaster Mayor Arnie Rodio, a Democrat, takes a more philosophical stand. “Some people in town don’t like it because it pokes fun at them or covers them in an unflattering way, but that’s part of being a politician,” he said.
The Anti-Press won’t make Kramer rich; in fact, the advertising barely pays for printing costs. But she says she garners more important, non-monetary rewards.
“I realize I have a lot more guts than I thought I had. I found my sense of humor. I have more confidence. I got to know my community. And--I was forced to finally get call waiting.”
Maryann Hammers is a regular contributor to The Times.
Where to Go
What: Anti-Press, P.O. Box 500067, Palmdale 93591.
Call: (805) 723-1689.