Kat Hobza—and her very funny “Sistah”—is back.
A lot of people in Billings will remember the original Sistah, a tabloid newspaper published every two weeks between 2003 and 2008. It was a cheeky, profane, in-your-face-funny publication aimed at women but appreciated by men of good sense as well.
Hobza, now living in Missoula, recently launched Sistah Diaries, an online version of her publication, the tagline for which is: “Sistah Diaries will not make you skinnier, or prettier, or a better mom, or a better wife, or a better employee. It’s about finding humor in chaos.”
In an email interview, here’s how Hobza described coming up with the idea for the original Sistah:
“One day when I had writer’s block, I started flipping through a Maxim that my then-husband had left on the counter. It was full of beer reviews, video games, women in schoolgirl skirts and stories about dudes who ate tarantulas.
“Mindlessly, I shifted to a Good Housekeeping that sat right next to it. There I found 823 ways to make a chicken breast and 219 ways to clean a tub. Like a bolt of lightning, it struck me. Men’s publications were all about entertainment and what made them happy—women’s were mostly about obligation. I saw a huge opportunity to provide women with entertaining, guilt-free, obligation-free content.”
And she did, issue after issue for five years. Hobza wrote a lot of Sistah herself, but she also built up a stable of writers who got into the groove of their editor’s let-it-all-hang-out humor and fearless commentary.
You get a pretty good idea of Sistah Diaries’ attitude and outlook just by glancing at the categories on its navigation bar: “I Shaved My Legs for This?,” “Flop Culture,” “Get Out,” “I Do,” “I Don’t,” Stretch Marks” and “Sinterest.”
Here’s how Hobza began a recent collection of musings on Easter: “Before anyone gets their Easter bloomers in a knot, I’m pro-Jesus. He’s my favorite guy in the Bible … all that forgiveness and love-all-people business. We could use a few more folks like that in the world. That said, I’m not a terribly religious person, and Easter has always made me scratch my head a little. Here’s why…”
And here she is in a primer on golf terminology, “as defined by a princess golfer”:
“Shaft : Let me clue you in on a little secret. There is more innuendo in golf than you can shake a shaft at, and it’s really at least half the fun. The shaft is the long part of the golf club. Do your best when you’re golfing to not laugh out loud when the guy you’re with starts yammering about how his shaft is too stiff or has too much flex in it.”
After ceasing publication of the original Sistah, Hobza said, “I went through a divorce and didn’t have anything funny to say for a while.” But then she moved to Missoula four years ago and “found my funny again.”
Besides taking Sistah online, she is running a consulting firm for web and social media content and is a part-time “beer wench” at a Missoula brewery. “I love everything Missoula has to offer in the way of fly-fishing, golf, hiking, playing in the river bottom and of course, beer,” she said.
When she was getting ready to publish Sistah, Hobza said, she ran around Billings with “this half-assed mock-up” and managed to find a lot of businesses willing to advertise, people who believed in what she was doing.
She wants to find financial support for Sistah Diaries, too, but she is considering sponsorships as opposed to ads, “simply because I want to focus my energy on the voice and content of Sistah Diaries. Right now, when I’m not generating or formatting content, I spend most of my time shamelessly asking my friends to have their friends like Sistah Diaries to help grow my audience. It helps that Sistah already had an audience, and those readers are migrating to Sistah Diaries, but I still have my work cut out for me.”
Hobza is also fortunate in having what she calls some “incredibly funny, bright folks” who are willing to provide content. They include a lawyer in Louisiana, a linguist-teacher in Los Angeles, a mother of twins in Portland, an engineer in San Francisco and several local contributors.
“Right now they write for free, which I hate,” Hobza said. “I’ve been a professional writer for 15 years, and stopped writing for free a long time ago—so it bugs me that I have to ask others to do that.
“But these awesome folks are in it for the fun, and hopefully I get Sistah Diaries to a place sooner rather than later where I can compensate my contributors.”