July–August 1988

(Actually, the cover reads JUL-AUG but page footers just say August.)

I dug through my pile and was shocked to find an old issue as yet unreviewed. I suppose I shunned it due to the simply appalling cover illustration – Stephen Wright standing on a restaurant table pouring champagne, while some female model lies with her head down on that table. Rather like a Newport ad, actually. The ’80s-like neon Spy logotype is stunningly apropos and, 15 years later, stunningly offputting.

A word about personal folly

Am I gonna get serious about this or what? I already told Medianews I was “the reigning Spy obsessif online,” yet I have what is known to be an incomplete collection. Nothing at all from 1986 or 1987, par exemple.

What, then, did I go and do this week? Miss out on an eBay auction of 100 Spy issues. Exactly as I told myself I would, I forgot about the closing time (why is it always 10:00 at night?) and was heard to loudly blaspheme “Jesus fucking Christ!” while sitting outside the Senior Citizens’ Timothy’s on Church with my esteemed colleague.

I rationalized that I owned most of the ishes in that collection, and that the price would be high (US$155 was $11 more than I wanted to pay), but that is flat-out bullshit.

I’ve got to learn to bid early. None of this scooping-at-the-last-minute business.

And what else did I tell Romenesko?

I was actually responding to links to a new and an old article about Spy. Thus:

I write as the reigning Spy obsessif online, author of Ten Years Ago in Spy, a monthly recap of a now-ancient magazine. One wee error in the Mediabistro piece: Alex Isley wasn’t the only Spy art director in (or of) its heyday. Christiaan Kuypers and the late B.W. Honeycutt are two others, and I have a hard time criticizing Honeycutt’s work. (Now, Kuypers’ work....)

eBay mails me every day with news of back numbers up for auction. I don’t know what I’m gonna do once I’ve recapped every issue. Call celebrities’ secretaries and tell them “I have Mr. Stallone on the line,” probably.

Back to July–August

Right. My copy of this issue is the only one that’s falling apart. I now hanker to buy a replacement, unless I bid on it too late, of course, and Velo-bind this one. And though I hate the cover illustration, I do like its cover typography, with hanging punctuation ( and :).

In fact, pace my snatch to Medianews, the issue is a tour de force of isleyism. Article after article dazzles with opening layouts, and layouts within the piece, and insanely obsessive text typography. It’s a dream, even if the colours (lots of teal) are quintessentially ’80s. I keep imagining an Arquitectonica skyscraper in Miami Vice.

The issue itself conducts advertising analysis, as we shall soon see, but this one’s a bumper crop.

I’m skipping the vaguely ridiculous “hipster”-bestrewn Swatch advertisement and focusing, as I am wont to do, on ads for rival magazines that appear to be aimed at advertising buyers. This month? pUs.

Is your idea of entertainment magazines [who has an “idea” of “entertainment magazines”?] that they’re really nothing more than sex and scandal sheets? [That they are scandal sheets and sex, or sex-and-scandal sheets?]

Without question, entertainment magazines have a far more lurid past than the entertainers they vilify. [Where do you think they got their material? What were their subjects?]

What you would be wrong about, however, is placing [p]Us magazine in the same universe as them.

True, we deal with entertainers. But the similarity stops there.

Rather than demeaning entertainers, we try to understand them. What they are, not as stars, but as fellow human beings [sic]. More-talented human beings, maybe. But people, nonetheless. [Silly! People is the competition.]

You’ll find no nasty little tales, no ugly gossip, no lurid [homo]sexuality. What revelation there is the entertainers give us themselves. (When you treat people with dignity, they tend to be candid [about everything save for their lurid homosexuality, drug use, gay husbands, youth as a brass-pole stripper, casting-couch history, etc.].

Very simply, what you will find in [p]Us is a first-hand conversation with the icons of our time. Written with, with style, with compassion [and full involvement and prior approval of publicists, managers, lawyers, and agencies].

A far cry from entertainment magazines you’ve come to know [and love], indeed.

Remember, staff of Jann Wenner – of that era, a crypto-homosexualist – actually wrote this tripe and paid money to have it published in a rival periodical. How much more Hollywood Babylon can you get?

Think back to 1988. Did you ever buy an article of clothing at Esprit (“de Corp.”)?

How about 1992 at Benetton?

Me, neither. (Though I wrote an excellent piece for Publish about the multilingual publishing process at Colors, the Benetton-funded, but not Benetton-controlled, quarterly. I interviewed Tibor Kalman, no less. He was already sick, but seemed chipper. Then again, why wouldn’t he be chipper to a reporter?)

Well, this month we’ve got two guys in their underwear – check the loose legs on that guy’s Y-fronts! – barely keeping their eyeglasses on their heads as some blond chick flashes them. “Photo: Toscani” reads the tiny credit. Ah, yes. Oliviero Toscani, later to work for... Benetton.

What I don’t understand is how these three ended up in a photo studio (the seamless backdrop paper is dead obvious), how the men ended up in their underpants, and how it was in any way surprising that a blond chick would whip open her men’s flannel overcoat. I mean, I would have expected that.

How many words contain two consecutive ws? Glowworm? Powwow? (Ah, yes, Powwow Highway, the Indian movie made to guilt-trip liberals into seeing it. As a Spy featurette put it, the typical reaction to that indie film was “I finally rented it.” Apart from Atanarjuat, a thousand-year-old story, how many Indian films are remotely interesting?)

En tout cas, our issue this month contains a 2/3-page advert for Arrowwood: A Doral Property, some kind of spa in some place called Rye Brook, New York (“ten minutes from the Rye Train Station [sic], with taxi and limousine service available”). Of especial interest here is the oddball typography, using a somewhat-more-historically-accurate-than-in-PostScript cut of Palatino with capitals hung halfway below the baseline.

I believe I can no longer live in denial. I must squarely address the advert for Definitions One·on·One Personal Fitness (sic), oft-seen in Spy and elsewhere à l’époque. An astonishingly overmuscled square-jawed blond grips the yoke of a triceps-pull attachment while wearing nought but a wifebeater emblazoned TRAINER. (It may have been matted in; I doubt that in-house wifebeaters would bear a single word set in Goudy, as the rest of the ad is.) Further notable are the insane bulging veins in deltoid and bicep, and the giant cavity between lats and pectorals, both of them a hand wider than his waist.

“The only service more personalized than ours is illegal,” screams the headline. “If you work best with a drill sergeant, that’s what you’ll get. Some people do better with a buddy. Either way, your trainer will keep his hands on you or the equipment throughout every session. That’s so he can protect you from injury and sense when you’ve had enough.”

Only fags would go for this. First of all, only fags would hanker for the all-American-boy type. Next, fags never have “buddies”; straight guys have a lock on that model of friendship. And it is every fag’s dream to be bossed around by a drill sergeant. Full Metal Jacket was, if anything, a porno fantasy, with every gay viewer in the role enacted by Matthew Modine. (They chose poorly, unaware of the appeal of Vincent D’Onofrio, whom I walked past on a sidestreet the last time I was in New York. He was a bit plump that night.)

Who else but the quisling homosexualist would permit himself (the ad uses masculine pronouns exclusively) to be pawed by a paid homunculus? That’s sexual assault in any other context.

One of course has a personal dimension here. When I went to McGill from 1985 to 1987, a fellow who looked almost exactly like the ad’s model worked out in the weightroom. (To be more accurate, he was one size smaller in all dimensions, but the proportions were the same, and the facial resemblance is impossibly close.) One day Rick had no choice but to ask me to hold him down while he did lat pulls. (Now Cybex machines do that for you.) We would later have a rather extensive discussion of homosexualism, and I think he once went to a Ladies[’] Night at Garage. I remember I put my foot in my mouth about his rather hideous winter jacket. (Gorgeous, blond, but poor.)

Years later, reliable sources explained that he got a job at Lavalin and a boyfriend more or less simultaneously.

One will never look at the Dom Ruinart (ruin art?) “Sips & Spills” advertorials the same way again. This month, “This fashion totem pole showed up at the latest Dom Ruinart Rosé Champagne bash sporting the latest in bicycle-messenger chic.” From what I can tell, he’s wearing a suit, Charles Nelson Reilly eyeglasses, and what is now the most reviled fashion fad of the 21st century, a trucker hat.

It’s an odd thing about these recaps. I now view these 15-year-old advertisements in a new light (“ersatz chichi bullshit”), new inasmuch as it comes from a future issue that is a mere 14 years old and inasmuch as I do not recall the particulars of each individual ad from initial 1980s reading. Time has essentially been collapsed.

I am something of a safety freak and there hasn’t been a sunny day, or even many cloudy days, in the last ten years in which I have not worn sunscreen. My Chinese-Jamaican dermatologistrix tells me I have nice skin, and my Jewish doctor tells me that if she tells me that I am to believe it. Hence I now do.

But this is 1988 we’re dealing with. The concept of killer solar rays was still pretty new. Nonetheless, there is no excuse for the marketing disaster that is the scare-tactic-ridden advertisement for Skin Cancer Garde® Ultra Protection Sunblock.

The product calls itself the very thing you’re trying to prevent. Next we’ll find laundry detergents named Filth-Away®, to use a palatable example.

“Here’s how you can look with a healthy tan” expresses the headline, as ten onlookers gaze into an open casket.

No kidding. The sun is the primary cause of skin cancer and 5,800 Americans will die of this disease this year alone.

OK, the total U.S. population is over 241 million. So odds are it won’t be your funeral....

So check it out. Because there are worse things than not having a tan.

I have a weakness for catchphrases (character defect, shurely?!), which I will now indulge.

Anyone remember the Sharper Image?

They still exist. (Worldwide, in fact.) Purveyors of ersatz chichi bullshit, I would say. Tag Heuer watches and shit.

Well, this month we witness a veritable semiotics course in the full-page ad for Sharper Image’s Tag Heuer line. The red-, white-, and cream-faced diving watch emerges, as if from the birth canal, atop a teal ocean, barely occluding a fireball of sunshine on the horizon. As if presaging her measuring your very manhood, two red-painted nails and the fingers they’re attached to grip the metal wristband. The hed? “Prepare to submerge.”

The messages are truly mixed here. It looks like the watch – bone dry – is being pulled out of a female signifier by another female signifier, yet the ad copy warns us to get ready to plunge back into the birth canal.

The red of the echt-’80s Sharper Image logotype is too bright and throbs mightily against the icy blue, but, mother of G-d, do I love the overall colour scheme of this page. I don’t know why. Perhaps I’d like it better if the text were unreadable – in, say, Danish.

Imagine a world of manufactured spontaneity, where celebrity parties pop up at the spur of the moment. They’re B-tier celebrities, of course, and you never find more than a dozen people, all of them crowded around the celebrity, but imagine that world.

Or just take a gander at the Cuervo advertisements. This month, it’s actress–nobody Kirstie Alley, who is doomed to look back on her deathbed and realize that she did nothing highbrow or even strictly intelligent, and spent half her career trading off her crossed eyes and unexplained mannishness.

A mere six months from this issue, Dennis Miller will stand in a drained swimming pool and host his own Cuervist soirée. And it won’t make any more sense there than here.

“Tide Lets U.P.U.” read the headline on a Leslie Savan “Op Ad” column in the Voice easily 12 years ago. (Turns out she’s got a book. Haven’t we all?) It concerned a Tide campaign featuring poor black mammies with noticeable accents declaring that Tide gets out dirt and odour.

The source for the headline? The absurd, self-parodying campaign REEBOKS LET U.B.U. Always confusing, what with Pere Ubu active in New York and the play Ubu Roi also and elsewhere advertised in Spy.

The Adbusters-manqué copy writes itself here. “Overpriced, short-lifespan shoes manufactured in a sweatshop let ME.B.ME.?” (Actually, sneakers might not have been sweatshop-produced in that era. Didn’t Reebok boast that its near-disposable runners were mostly made in the U.S.?)

I suppose the air of eccentricity in this campaign is actually a studied one. Even back in the day, these models must have looked like spastic losers who were, moreover, dressed by their moms. (Jackets, jeans, and gigantic glasses on men; vests, tights, layered shirts, and socks straight out of the NHL for women. The sneakers match nothing save for the ballcaps that men and women both seem to end up wearing.)

In this issue’s double-truck advertisement, which appears to be a hand-tinted photograph, a cavalcade of hipsters IS.IT.SELF. as it verily frog-marches along a graffitied brick wall.

Remember: There isn’t a multinational corporation anywhere that wants U 2 B U. Reebok could at least have given us better ads when they lied to us.

Further hanging punctuation is witnessed in a heavily typographic advertisement (despite being entirely in over-kerned Helvetica) for Tamara, the oddball play set within a “lavish villa” that we’re all supposed to like. The ad copy uses the same kind of grasping appeals to poshness we expect from, say, cruise-ship advertising. (David Foster Wallace says he had never been promised any kind of “pampering” more often than in such advertising.) It sounds really exciting to lower-middle-class people, I guess.

Staged throughout a lavish villa [in Manhattan?], this is theatre without seats. You step inside the play as a guest, inches away from seductions or schemes, and follow the characters who intrigue you most as they move about the house.

Be a part of a first-class evening, with all the trimmings: Free-flowing champagne[-like sparkling beverage] when you arrive. A sumptuous buffet banquet presented by Le Cirque, New York’s legendary four-star restaurant. Fabulous crème brûlée and coffee with the cast when it’s all over.

Come prepared for wild voyeuristic fun. And wear comfortable shoes.

The kind of people who would fall for ad copy like that probably don’t have more than one pair.

Inside the “Special Promotional Supplement,” I read an advertisement that, in light of recent tidings in the music business, is nothing short of astounding.

Warner Bros. flatly commands you to “Replace Your Records With Warner Bros. Compact Discs.”

Some Things Are Meant to Last. Pick One.

Okay, here’s the list.

  1. Great Music.
  2. Compact Discs.
  3. Cockroaches.

Yes, it’s an ugly comparison. A disgusting metaphor. But’s a fact that we share our small world with these odious creatures ,and probably will for a long, long time.

Great music will always live on, but not necessarily as distortion-free, protected and pure as it should be. Because most music still lives in soft, vulnerable, vinyl-y places, not in drainpipes.

Yes, if you’re betting on constancy, our advice is to go with the indefatigable roach. But don’t underestimate the tenacity of the Compact Disc [sic]. It’s practically indestructible. That’s why we’ve decided to release some of our best albums on CD.

Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, Little Feat, Paul Simon, ZZ Top and the Grateful Dead. Now residing safe and comfortably on Compact Disc.

So remember. What’s wiring to you may be deli to the enterprising roach. In a pinch he’ll even eat your shoe polish. Isn’t it just a matter of time before he works his way over to that salad bar of old 45s?

Think about it.

The ad gives us three illustrations:

  1. A tin of shoe polish (strained metaphor) atop the written side of a compact disc, probably scratching it. “Behold the glittering Compact Disc [sic]. 6.5 billion bits of audio information teeming in perfect harmony to produce the best sound ever.”
  2. A Converse All Stars–wearing roach (strained metaphor) that emanates yellow and red colours like stink lines. “Arrogant but aerodynamically correct [sic], 12 of these guys can live on the glue of a postage stamp for a week.”
  3. A messy stack of “45s”: “Symbolic. Collectible. Highly perishable. Memories, and vinyl, are made of this.” In fact, vinyl records last decades if cared for correctly. Ancient 78s are still playable, as John Peel demonstrates on every show.

Yet interestingly, a few pages later one finds a double-page advertisement for TDK cassettes. (Philips DCC, shurely?!) Perfect for taping the CD collection of your spendthrift friend who blew $18.99 each on a complete duplication of his still-playable albums.

First, I am loath to be accused of a failure to be meta, so I introduce Letters to Ten Years Ago in Spy. Or will once I set up that page. It’s imminent.

Now. This month’s letters are so superpiquant that nearly all of them deserve reproduction. I will, however, control myself.

“From the Spy Mailroom” states:

We can understand the collecting compulsion – the need to own all of Andy Warhol’s cookie jars or every Elvis Costello B-side or an unbroken set of Joyce Carol Oates’ books – and so we are naturally sympathetic to Worcester, Massachusetts reader Mitch Murphy’s desire to purchase the May 1978 issue of Spy.... “I was under the impression that Spy was only a few years old,” he admits.

It’s true that we weren’t born yesterday. Even so, we’re sorry to say that we can’t supply a copy of the May 1978 Spy, either because (1) the issue is completely sold out, and the earliest still-available issue is October 1986, or because (2) the cavalier attitude with which we conduct our personal live extends to our presentation of Spy’s publishing history, particularly as regards dates, chronology, and other intrusive facts.

Well, it’s not as though I’m not like that, too.


Sara Oppenheim writes... to say that she was recently confined to her home for three days. “My crime?” she says. “I ordered all your back issues.” Not quite all of them, Sara, right? Not May 1978, s[h]urely. [...]

Jan Harrington of Manhattan writes, “Please show us a picture (doctored if necessary) of Malcolm Forbes in a push-up bra and a flounced party dress.” Must we? He looks much better in a tube top and matching culottes.

Anyway, actual letters.

Thank you so much for the “article” on weddings in your April issue. I was pleased to see the gigantic type at the bottom of the page letting all your readers know that it was “a special promotional supplement” and not another of those advertisements disguised as journalism. Why don’t you start a new column titled Prostitute of the Month and have Spy be the first feature?

Speaking of which, a “Special Promotional Supplement” in this month’s issue claims to pertain to Rock & Roll (sic) in some way. Upon rereading the section (or re-skipping it), I immediately recalled the too-bold, letterspaced, force-justified heds.

But it’s actually even worse. You’ll note that I just described a “Special Promotional Supplement”: We’ve actually got another one, “A Special J&B Scotch Promotional Supplement” somehow pertaining to the 1988 U.S. election. The typography is even worse. And more goddamned blue and red.

Permit me to wax indignant over your vicious and dastardly use of only part of my letter.... Quoted out of context, I appear to be crude, boorish, drooling, sexist slob who skims magazines with only One Thing in Mind. Since some of the above is probably untrue, you owe me an apology.

Mr. Roberts was quoted in April’s “From the Spy Mailroom” as follows: “Who, oh, who, is the beauteous blond[e] with the breasts, and is there any chance we may see more of her in future issues of Spy?” (To which we responded: “Hubba-hubba, Jeff.”) In fairness to Mr. Roberts, here is the entire previously-unpublished portion of that letter: “Forget Barbara Walters’s admiration for Leona Helmsley’s trademark iron handgrip....” By painstakingly fitting this all-important, newly-discovered fragment together with the published fragment, we get a very, very different meaning indeed – and another sad example of the press abusing its power. We apologize.

Later, Jeffrey A. Koncius of Baltimore writes in to complain about overpriced Spy T-shirts, one of which I saw on a slovenly alternative type sloping past Pages Books nearly two decades ago. “If you can tell me why you charge $12, besides the fact that you want to make a serious profit, I’ll buy two!” Spy explains exactly why (the reasons fail to maintain interest 15 years later), and adds, “Mr. Koncius, we assume you’re ‘convinced’ now, and we’re billing you for two shirts – as per our written, legally-binding agreement.”

Don’t fuck with Spy’s lawyers.

And the July–August 1988 issue is, in fact, the one carrying the letter by Jonathan Hoefler (“heffler”) defending Spy’s typography.

“What’s in a Name? Spy’s Monthly Anagram Analysis” was not always so named. This month it’s actually called “What’s in a Name? A Monthly Bulletin on the Latest Findings in Psycho-anagramology.”

Name That Tune, Mr. Spock!

Did you know that such a body even existed? Well, “Guilt by Association” (unbylined) interviews flaks from “smoking and cancer,” guns, junk-food, polyester, sugar, salt, and beer associations, plus the aforenamed association of associations.

“One of the images we try very hard to dispel is that associations are strictly lobbying groups,” says Eric Johnson of the American Society of Association Executives ([202] 626-2723). “That’s really not true. Associations play a very important role in educating the public and developing new knowledge. It would be hard to say that there are too many associations.”

By the way, the Sugar Association flak declares “Too much broccoli is bad for you,” the gun nut declares “The reality is you’re more likely to use your gun to drive off a criminal than you are to misuse it and commit a tragedy,” and of course the junk-food lobbyist, unintentionally abetting his colleague the salt of the earth, declares “salted snacks derive the name because they taste salty. That comes from surface salt. In fact, a slice of bread or a slice of cheese has just as much salt as a handful of potato chips.”

Lesson for nonvegans? Eat all three at once, chase it with broccoli, and wave your handgun in any direction you like. We all gotta go someday.

“Mark O’Donnell Answers Questions Kids Might Ask During Reddy’s Tour of American Elementary Schools”:

Do you have a penis?
Is it satisfying to flow through the body of a condemned killer?
No. I’m emotionless. I strike innocent forest rangers too.
I don’t think you’re neat. I think you’re queer.
That’s not a question.
Does it mean your nose and your stomach and your gloves are all made of electricity?
Believe it or not, kid, so are yours.

At last! I found (rediscovered) the deconstruction of Newport cigarette advertising mentioned before. “Take Me, Hurt Me, Smoke Me” by John Leo is a triumph, a classic, meaty, punchy, everything. And Isley just kills with his little icons of a matchbook, repeated over and over in the intro copy with one match depleting each time till the book is empty.

With Newport ads, either you see it right away or you don’t. And we’re not talking subliminal seduction, genitalia in ice cubes or anything nutty like that. We’re talking sexual combat disguised as play.



“Return to Grenada” glazes eyes with its overlong conceit of alighting in the island nation to debrief the locals on the aftermath of the American invasion. The Deer Hunter references just are not working.

Still and all:

Three American sailors come around the corner, looking ill at ease in mufti and crew cuts. Michael [an “area resident”] melts away from the bar. Standing next to the sinewy island boys, these guys look pasty, soft in the stomach and, above all, stupidly, irreversibly white. They are out for their last night before a cruise, they say and they’ll be back in four or five days. They are based in Key West.

But what are they doing here?

“That’s classified,” barks their chief. [...] Then I understood that the chief and his boys were down here looking for dope.

But could the following be the best-ever photograph in Spy magazine? Soldiers in cammies lick ice-cream cones just bought from a hole-in-the-wall vendor. “War is hell: U.S. troops two days after 1983 invasion.”

Why, if this were happening today, these grunts might have to do without instant messaging for a whole week! War really is heck.

They’re back: Page 133, the break page for “A Hard Day’s Night,” Spy’s superspecial 1988 Celebrity Pro-Am Ironman Nightlife Decathlon Championship. Anthony Haden-Guest, Carl Bernstein, and Morgan Entrekin (who?) square off in the downtown steeplechase. Teal a interspersing itself in red HARD DAY’S.

In this era, it will be recalled, I read Musto in the Voice, thus I feel I know something of the ambience. I am much too square even now to have hung out as a demimondaine. I look at Jonno and his clubbing photos (even the square lad there is hipper than I am), and I’m all, “What’s it like to know how to have fun?” I suppose the first step is to have eight Italian great-grandparents.

Anthony Haden-Guest
6:25 p.m.
Aware that HADEN-GUEST is expected at a reception at Asprey, the expensive British luggage-and-knickknack store in supertasteful Trump Tower, we pilot our Ford Tempo to 56th and Fifth and immediately spot legendary 52-inch-high Esquire editor Lee Eisenberg.
Carl Bernstein
6:58 p.m.
We park our Ford Tempo in front of the Chrysler Building’s Lexington Avenue entrance and await the throng expected for New York magazine’s twentieth-birthday party. The first guest to arrive – two minutes early, in a tuxedo, but without his wife, former top model Ivana – is self-effacing city benefactor Donald Trump.
Morgan Entrekin
6:35 p.m.
Seminal artist Keith Haring arrives at the theatre in a mock letterman jacket with a female companion.... followed by Carl Bernstein, who entertains the paparazzi by bellowing “Don’t touch my hair!” when Ms Hutton and her female companion try to ruffle his preternaturally stiff coiffure.

Well, what can I say? I am influenced by Gore Vidal without ever having read one of his books. I attend mostly to his quips. Quite self-evidently my affectation -ist (as homosexualist, Orientalist) is Vidalian in origin. It’s been picked up here and there among my confrères.

“Review of Reviewers” by Ignatz Ratzwizkiwzki (“I’d like to buy a vowel, Pat”):

Gore Vidal is a veteran self-reviewer. In the Letters column of a recent New York Review of Books he reconsiders Lincoln, the fourth of his long series of tedious novels. “For forty years,” Vidal begins tediously, “the New York Times has, from time to time, put its collective ‘mind’ to work in trying to find ways of coping with my disturbing presence on the American scene.” [...] No one, except Vidal, likes Vidal’s novels, but even this visitor has to admit that many of Vidal’s early essays... are very good. But his recent pieces, even the ones published outside the self-review column of the New York Review, rework the same handful of tired themes. Can there possibly be anyone left on the American scene who doesn’t know that Vidal wrote all the good parts of Ben-Hur, had a grandfather who was a senator, and has been to several parties also attended by Kennedys?

Did you know that before he took one milky load too many up the arse, began smearing his chest with testosterone gel, undertook a decade-long self-delusion that Republicans had anything but contempt for him, the British, queers, and British queers named Andrew Sullivan, and commenced an unfiltered program of lies on the Web, Andrew Sullivan wrote for Spy?


Oh, yes, yes, yes. You knew that already, though that reference pertains to Spy’s future. Here, his “Politics” column “Civil Rites” concerns disturbing junk mail the Little Bugger received:

Fumble out the Playmate. It’s just behind the return envelope, peeking above the fold. Lips gently parted, eyes lingering menacingly to the right, arms angled against the hip.

It’s an 8 × 10 colour print of United States Senator Jesse Helms.

Since you are a proud conservative like me, I’m sure you’ll appreciate having this picture of our number-one conservative senator.

Certainly, certainly [sic]. Then the kicker.

But as a black conservative, I take extra pride in sending you this photograph of Senator Helms.

Hmm. This stuff is sicker than I’d thought.

He later notes:

With BLACK PAC we have a perfect example of Washington’s nouvelle politique: Small, overpriced, elegantly-crafted portions of completely-incompatible ideologies.

And later still, he would ignore this lesson himself even as he came to embody it.

The scandal of BLACK PAC... is not that it’s deceptive or corrupt. THe scandal is it’s banal. It differs from the rest of Washington’s marketing of politics only in degree: Ideological oxymorons are less important than the money coming in.

Andrew Sullivan, after all, is the only man alive who thinks it costs $72,000 a year to run a Weblog.

A tad anemic this month. Needs more Androgel, I guess.

Interestingly, this month’s “Party Poop” is the first reference I can find to Calvin Klein as a “substance abuser,” which he apparently conceded back in 1988 and again this year.

Right. I mentioned this issue’s status as a “tour de force of isleyism,” mostly in its multi-page spreads. (Some are wider than double-page!)

  1. “Return to Grenada,” pp. 50–51: Green swung dash as hyphen and byline divider; barbed wire; mix of house fonts Garamond 3 and Metro.
  2. “True Confessions,” pp. 110–111: Stacked columns, red and teal (it is a trend!) type, icons we’d now consider “ironic” (not “ironic,” “ ‘ironic’ ” – like Chevy Chase doing air quotes).
    • Further, this story leads to a gigantic gatefold analysis of autobiographies that, I am sure, even 15 years ago I was not bored enough to actually read.
    • It’s got a great sidebar, “ ‘No, I Haven’t Read the Book – But I Loved the Index!’ ” by Barry Walden, that excerpts incriminating details from the indexes of autobiographies.
      • From Citizen Cohn by Nicholas von Hoffman
        • Cohn, Roy M.
        • AIDS of
          • his denials
        • attempted murder of
        • childhood and adolescence of
          • deal-making
          • “dieting”
          • writes gossip column
        • homosexuality of
          • ...his denials
          • his mother’s death and love affairs
          • McCarthy and
          • Reagans and
          • Vaseline incident
          • venereal warts [...]
        • personal characteristics of
          • blacks and
          • dressed by black maid [...]
          • orange tuxedo [...]
          • tantrums
          • totally free rules of life
        • plastic surgery on
        • stories of murders by
        • suicide attempt of
      • From Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke
        • Capote, Truman Garcia (Truman Streckfus Persons)
          • convulsive seizures of
          • crushes of
          • dancing of
          • dieting of [...]
          • drug addiction of
          • eavesdropping and snooping of
          • effeminate behaviour of
          • egoism of
          • fantasies of
          • flamboyance of
          • friendships destroyed by
          • homosexual tendencies of
          • hysteria of
          • jailings of [...]
          • lying of [...]
          • Pygmalion role of
          • sexual initiation of
          • sexual preferences of
          • as sissy
          • sophistication and style craved by
          • spitefulness and revengefulness of
          • women’s rapport with

You are here: fawny.orgTen Years Ago in SPYArchives → July–August 1988

Posted: 2003.08.05 ¶ Updated 2003.08.13

See also: Interview with Alex Isley, former SPY art director