Welcome to this week’s Mag of the Week!
June 19 will be the Mag of the Week for a while. I will be writing occasionally to say goodbye to some classic titles that have stopped publishing recently, but MoWs are taking a summer hiatus. The feature will return after Labor Day, when school is back in session. This will give me time to write some in-depth content and get some summer projects done. Plus take some time off!
Interview Magazine was begun in 1969 as a monthly newspaper with a focus on film and film stars. Created by artist, writer, and provocateur Andy Warhol and British underground journalist John Wilcock, it reflected a fascination with celebrity, allowing them to augment their own by showcasing that of others.
Hyper-aware of media’s involvement in the idea of celebrity, Warhol began experimenting in publishing in the late 1960s. In 1969, he co-launched InterView, A Monthly Film Journal. The first issue was consciously commoditized, proclaiming “First Issue Collector’s Edition” on the cover. The artist used the magazine as a vehicle for his media persona by distributing it among friends and promising covers to people he met while out partying. It was part of his art-business sales strategy, as well. He instructed editors to use the wives and girlfriends of prominent New Yorkers as cover models, arguing that these patrons would certainly then buy the original screenprint work.
He continued to publish the title from his studio on Union Square until his death in 1987, although he withdrew from the day-to-day running of the title earlier. Hired by Warhol in 1972, artist Richard Bernstein created the signature cover look of hyper-realized oversized celebrity portraiture until 1989.
Since Warhol’s death, several publishing teams have kept Interview Magazine in the same style, with about 40% glossy advertising and 60% features, including free-form, chatty interviews of celebrities, often by other celebrities. As media has broadened in scope, Interview’s coverage has as well. The title now juxtaposes fashion coverage with social media and television celebrity reporting, alongside its initial club, music, and film involvement. Former editor Ingrid Sischy described the magazine as “dishy but serious.”
On May 21, 2018, the editors announced a filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings, shortly after a recent revamping attempt. Rumors have flown (and Tweeted) around for months that editors and artists have not been paid for their work, and a creative director stands accused of sexual harassment by several former employees. Nonetheless, news surfaced this week that family members of the recent editorial team may have found a way to refinance the magazine and keep it afloat. It seems fitting that a magazine founded upon an artist’s love of celebrity should have such a public and treacherous path.