intjames.pngFor some ridiculous reason, Ms.Keough and I kept missing the Kate Moss covered relaunch of Interview. All the hype seemed to cause the magazine to disappear from every magazine stand we frequent in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I was feeling anxiety over not finding it because for the last summer the takeover of Baron and O'Brien had made me feel hope. Hope that the very first magazine I ever became obsessed with would return to greatness, hope that a commercially viable American magazine could actually be interesting.

Ms. Pace, my 9th grade English teacher, looked like a 1950's pin-up. She had big red hair, bright red lipstick and usually wore a sleeveless breast popping blouse, over sized fake pearls, skin tight capri pants and 4 or perhaps 10 inch heels. I remember her rushing into class late, wearing horn-rimmed sunglasses and maybe dropping her papers, bending down to gather them while asking the class if we remembered to write in our journals the night before. Ms. Pace was the kind of teacher who wanted her students to figure out things for themselves. She always asked questions and never gave any facts. In the back of the classroom was a box filled with years and years of Interview. "You should totally read that, it's Andy Warhol's magazine."

I grew up reading comic books... I went hungry at school because I saved my lunch money so I could buy a stack every Saturday. Lying on the ground with my chin cradled in my hands I took in the smell of the paper, of giants striding over me-big ideas on cheap paper. Superhero adventure comic books, despite their high-brow detractors, are not simply about escapism-they are imagination activators. These larger than life, primary colored icons invite you to fill in the space between the panels. When I first picked up an issue of Interview at 15 years old my imagination was activated in much the same way. Interview portrayed GIANTS.... Andy, the actors, the drag queens, the artists, the interesting freaks never heard about before or since... If I closed my eyes, I could look up and see them taking massive steps over me...

Interview had the super heroic power to inspire. The factory superstars were interesting people willed by themselves and Warhol into fabulousness and stardom- Interview wielded that same sort of energy. Smart, cool and creative people sitting around a table in a dark restaurant, perhaps under a red light, surrounded by smoke, tongues loosened by a cocktail. Interview made you want to be at that table. The primary difference between current entertainment magazines and the old Interview is that you were invited to sit at that table, rather than being given a display window to gawk at.

A few weeks ago I interviewed for a dull, dull design gig in midtown-an area I rarely go to. I got the job and afterward decided to walk all the way to the LES, because I enjoy checking out streets I don't usually see. It was raining, but fortunately I had an umbrella. I thought some midtown magazine stand might still have that new issue and I was excited to finally get it and wait out the rain in a cafe. The Kate issue was already gone, but I did get the October issue with James Franco. I was immediately pleased by the bold, gorgeous image of Franco (starring in the much anticipated Milk) which lacked my bane: excessive cover lines. However, once seated with coffee, I began to flip through... a sinking feeling with each new page...

Oh, yes, of course, the design and typography, GORGEOUS.... the photography, FLAWLESS. Baron knows what he's doing - and he does it better than just about anyone else, no doubt. When I see his work in commercial fashion magazines it's like he's saving some tacky person high on cash, but low on taste. They desperately need him. But as I flipped through this October issue, I kept asking myself - what the hell does this elegant, minimalist design (which looks almost identical to his work on Harper's Bazaar) have to do with Interview?

The design, as lovely as it is, has absolutely nothing to do with any sort of conceptual, editorial mission. I get the impression that the design could care less about the writing, or the readership. In Fantastic Man, for example, this kind of minimalist design directly relates to the editorial sensibility, while in the new Interview, it is simply pretty.

And lets talk about the "new" Interview's editorial sensibility... how exactly has Glenn O'Brien brought it back to it's roots as he claimed he would? It's the same old celebrity tripe we've been seeing for years. Interviews seem to be arranged by agents hyping projects - not by the staffs genuine interest or enthusiasm. There is also an interview with the absolute most irritating, least interesting, cutest NY band, MGMT. This is meant to be the moment where the magazine gives voice to new, interesting, COOL talent. The powers that be are obviously taking the likes of too many boring middle-class interns to heart. Then of course, in the back of the book, we are fed the same old tired NY "interesting" art people we've been seeing for far, far too long. I have a list of people I don't need to hear about any more, and Ryan McGinley and Elizabeth Peyton are at the top of that list.

As an artist, designer, writer and editor I want to put something of quality out into the world and stay true to my convictions while still making a living - and not just contribute to cultural pollution. I thought that Interview might begin to embody those desires. As I sat there flipping the pages, resigning my fate to the impending lackluster work I'd be creating, I wondered if there was any hope at all. Yes, its totally ridiculous, but this magazine was the catalyst to a weeks long depression.

The new Interview is a perfectly fine, well done magazine... but has nothing to add. It seems to be a very well crafted opportunity to sell fashion to young, wealthy suburban refugees who think one can BUY yourself into being an interesting person. This is just not my thing. I wish them all the luck in the world.

Seriously though... Baron or O'Brien, if you're reading this, and you want to get back in touch with that smokey restaurant table, R&S is available.

Love and Kisses - we miss you Andy.

Comments (2)

Dear Mr. Mcginnis,
thank you very much for this fine and exact review of the "new" Interview! You name it! It is exactly like that!
For American magazines this style may be relatively new, but here in Europe it is already seen so much. So yes, i agree with you, the redesign is a disappointment. I’been reading Interview for 17 years (loved the Tibor Kalman years back then and thought the three in-between issues before the redesign were great), but i don’t recognize my beloved magazine anymore. I wonder, with this stiff layout, what do they want to do to surprise or play?

Greetings from Berlin,

Having given up on Interview a while ago this was the first issue I had perused in quite some time. Excited by it's dynamic (if throwback) design I snapped it up.

Alas I found it to be the equivalent of a quickly snagged bit of fast food. As much as I wanted to enjoy it I was left feeling both bloated by lovely design that sort of went..nowhere... and empty by content that was as average and witless as any other mainstream magazine.

I purchased my first issue of Interview in 1979. I had no idea who most of the people in it were but there was just "something" that made it so desirable. The size, the look, the freewheeling approach to the interviews – what was this? Yes it did get showbizzy during the 80's but it was always bold, fun and the sense of downtown was always there. Perhaps the mix of Colacello's conservative politic and Andy's innate subversiveness never allowed it to get too glossy or too far from it's original "hey let's make a magazine" verve keeping it fresh...

The Sischy years were to me sad ones. Dry and pedantic; cliquey but not cool. Ingrid's privledged, dusty and dreary approach to the excitement and wacko-ness of fame and fashion left me feeling depressed. It was a graduate school student's approach to hipness and for me the fun was lost.

Perhaps there is room for the new version to fray past it's gorgeous looks and pick up a little downtown grit. Perhaps downtown has just gotten so glossy that this is all that remains. I hope not.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


follow us

blogs we love

small press