April 27, 2010

are you tired of sassy yet? THE ANSWER IS NO.

Whoops! My blog was shut down for a day (maybe less) because of the Yohji Yamamoto/Inez & Vinoodh/Maggie Rizer photo. Which is odd! But whatevs, something VERY IMPORTANT happened today, and we move on:
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Lovely reader Kat very generously sent over a few issues of Sassy from '92-'93 and I've spent pretty much all my time since they came reading, trying to decide what I should devour now, what I should save for when I'm bitter, etc. And it all feels very relevant to today, except for the pop culture stuff, which actually does still feel pretty relevant just because my tastes in music are very "Wish I Was Part of Generation X."
And so I bring you, photos! Not scans, unfortunately, because our scanner broke, again, for the billionth time, but the articles are still legible. Click on the photo and then go to "all sizes" on its flickr page (and for those that end with "continued on page __", photos of the endings are in this set.) There are about a bajillion photos, so these are just my favorites, but there are more here.

You are probably not reading this part, because anyone with an average attention span would have jumped right to the photos as soon as they read "Hey I took some pictures of old Sassys!" but for those who ARE reading...I forget what I was gonna say. Nevermind.
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So, in 1992 or 3, Birkenstocks and Uggs were in a magazine for that focused on more obscure fashion for dorkier teenage girls. Nowadays, an outfit from Pink or Abercrombie is incomplete without either of these shoes, and a gold-plated iPhone whose memory is overloaded with Justin Bieber videos can commonly be found conveniently hidden inside an Ugg boot as part of texting-during-class strategies. Not quite sure what to make of this. And it's not just my middle school where that's common, right? Back me up on this one?

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Seeing this cover made me a bit weary of what might be inside, as, according to How Sassy Changed My Life, the beginning of Sassy's downfall and commercialism was more visible in the magazine when the covers started to have bland white backdrops in the cover.
And then I saw this in the bottom right hand corner,
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Ah! I see what you did there! And also, I love you!

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"An anti-priss fantasy starring three demented wallflowers." Aka, my dressing guide for the graduation dance next month.
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A prom dress! With Doc Martens! So Sassy!
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A couple months after this article, a reader said in a letter to the magazine that she was angry to see this headline on the cover of the magazine, indicating that it'd become another stupid teenybopper piece of garbage, but was pleasantly surprised to see Margie and Mary Ann were actually making fun of idiotic tips from Cosmo and YM (click photo to enlarge/read/laugh.)

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While it was pretty clear that the Sassy writers were liberal (especially when it came to Hillary & Chelsea and abortion rights, topics discussed or mentioned in passing now and then,) they attempted to show all sides to everything. One example in my stash is an article about girls working on a Pro-Life campaign (it's sincere and not snide or mocking the girls.) They also educated their readers about the election without sounding too swaying for any candidates and highlighted the importance of knowing about, y'know, who's gonna lead your country n' stuff:
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CHLOE TIME.
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AFJSDGJHSDIUGHSDOGS I love you? Also how incredible is that haircut? And homemade patchwork hats? And also did I mention that I love her?

Lots of straight-forward articles that answered readers' concerns without sugar-coating or sounding like a pushy parent:
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Unashamed feminism, complete with Barbara Kruger fonts:IMG_3704
(From the yearly Reader-Produced Issue.)
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Calling out American values or pasttimes for, well, sucking:
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Thinking about teen culture:
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(From the Reader-Produced Issue, complete with Daniel Clowes cartoon!)
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(I had no clue Heather Duke [or "Shannen Doherty," whatever] was so gross! I mean, Sassy WAS pretty tough on her [a headline on one issue read, "Shannen Doherty: Pathetic Loser"] [ZOMG too many brackets in this parenthesis] but oh the things Wikipedia tells me!)

In each issue, a page with writing by readers:
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Epic fashion stories:
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Lauren Santo Domingo modeling above. Amazing, right? I'm beginning to think in order to be cool you had to have had some association with Sassy back in the day.
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Seriously reminding me of 80's/90's Comme des Garcons ads.
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Street style!
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Anyone remember when Nylon did this exact same DIY a couple years ago? Mhmm.

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Okay, I'm not crazy about this one, maybe because the hair reminds me of Sideshow Bob, who always gave me the creeps.

And, finally, the life-changing ladies behind it:
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And, the book I mentioned above, written by Kara Jesella and Marisa Meltzer:
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Like Girl Power, also by Marisa Meltzer, I had trouble putting down How Sassy Changed My Life. Not because it's riveting or suspenseful or anything (I mean, it's nonfiction, and you know about the downfall of the magazine when you start the book,) but because the writing just flows, and you just want to know more, because it's just so enjoyable. More Italics. There are numerous interviews with the fans, creators, and friends of the magazine; descriptions of the environment of the office full of writers and editors readers knew on a first-name basis; and explanations as to why Sassy was and wasn't successful, in the eyes of different people. Also enjoyable is the voice coming from Kara and Marisa, which is sarcastic and witty in a distinctly Sassy fashion. Tracing the hopeful birth, glory days, disturbing downfall, final death, and legacy of "the greatest teen magazine of all time," the question that kicks off the introduction-Why would you write a book about a teen magazine?-is quickly answered.

One thing stuck with me in a peculiar manner. Like, the examples it gives from pathetic, boring, misogynist teen magazines at the time of Sassy's birth are so awful. But today, those very same teen magazines publish stories much like the features Sassy offered to girls who didn't want to hear about the importance of popularity, maybe the same way Uggs and Birkenstocks of Sassy's 1992 are now Seventeen's 2010. Addressing topics such as sex, self-esteem, and other issues that are distinctly Teen Girl -- Sassy started that, and today it's hard to imagine a magazine for teen girls that doesn't discuss any of those things. What with this, and blogs, and the way girls can communicate with one another via the Internet to feel a little less like misfits, Kara and Marisa ask the question of whether or not another Sassy would be needed today.

The way the two do delve into wonderings like these show that How Sassy Changed My Life is about more than Sassy. It's about Generation X, and youth, and girl youth, and how all those things were betrayed by the evil tendencies and decisions made by corporate...corporations. Or something. I choose not to know the technical terms. Basically, it's what feels like the natural continuation of the magazine. Kara and Marisa mention that many readers eventually felt like they were outgrowing Sassy but Sassy couldn't grow with them. This book isn't Sassy -- it's a book, it's not supposed to, and nothing is or will be. But it gives much-needed closure for devoted readers that, after the stupid commercial stuff went down, had been left to wander the halls of high school without their most understanding friend. And for people who, like me, were too young or not even alive during Sassy's heyday, it's comforting to know that it existed. Sound familiar? Maybe Kara and Marisa are just always really good at making 90's nostalgia more than a yearning for clogs and baby barrettes and proving the effect teen girls, teen feminist girls, teen feminist girls who are smart and outspoken...can have on mainstream culture. From Riot Grrrl to Spice Girls, from Sassy to Seventeen. Maybe it's even enough to inspire someone to make Generation Y a Sassy. Maybe it already has.

227 comments:

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cori said...

when i was 16 i wrote a poem about my first, life-consuming, tragic crush (he was also my first kiss). i sent it in to sassy using just my first name (because i used the word "damn" - my family was very religious). 3 years later the boy killed himself. 13 years later, after searching for years to find a copy of it, you put a picture of my poem on your blog. thank you tavi.

AK said...

I remember the pillow case article!!! Think about it all the time.

Alyssa
Love Brigade

Allison said...

I lived in a small/rural midwestern town in the 90s and discovered Sassy in about 7th-8th grade. It did save my life, and it's one of the factors that led to a lifelong engagement with music. I bought the music they talked about, i made clothes and food like they suggested (still make a couscous salad -- couscous was WAY exotic in my town in 1993-- from a recipe they printed), I dressed like a weirdo and felt good about myself because of it. But besides their awesome styling and interest in all things alternative, the writing was also excellent -- it was funny and in-depth and didn't talk down to girls, and the writers' voices sounded real.

Do you have the issue that includes the junk food taste test? My sister and I would read it aloud to each other and die laughing.

meegiemoo said...

Awesome Fluevog clogs in this picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28552145@N05/4559468368/sizes/l/

fashionablepeople said...

I am so jealous of your Sassy collection. That magazine was one of the best things to happen to me as a teenager. I lived in a small town on the east coast of Canada sans internet and Sassy was the the only magazine available to me that let me know there was a non-YM/Seventeen world out there for girls. I think I read every single one of the issues you photographed. I still love Dopey Fashion Poses.

Laís Garcia said...
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Laís Garcia said...
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Laís Garcia said...

Tottaly agree with you, and would like to add that it's much more dificult being a teenager these days than probaly was at the 90's,80's and even 70's, 'cause back then you had the rock n' roll, you had the eternal friendship, you did'nt have a rented house, you had stay-at-home mother, and father that didn't cheat on her, and, you had a brother that anoid you, you had a bike to ride on weakend i the midle of the street, you had the clothes, and, of course, you had the magazines. Today, we only have the internet, divorced parents, Miley Cyrus and drugs.
Kiss Kiss, from a brazzilian fan.

http://cheriemoda.blogspot.com

Rachelle said...

I loved Sassy. The clothing wasn't my style, but the issues were. My senior yearbook staff agreed to a Sassy-inspired layout similar to the "You can't make this stuff up." I remember having to turn the magazine different directions to read all the stats and quotes, though.

h.h. said...

Tavi!
You are amazing. Your blog is my first! And I cannot get over how articulate you are. And so intelligent. WHAT.

anywho, I hate to spam you, but I will. Here's me and my lover's new blog and vintage online store-esque site. if you could take a look at it that would be AHMAZING.

much love,

h.h.

http://www.magictheatrevintage.blogspot.com/

shop: http://magictheatrevintage.webs.com/

PS. we should have you up and running as one muses soon. yup. get excited :)

Mandi said...

Man, I remember every last one of those issues! Wish I had had the foresight to hang on to them. Thanks for sharing and bringing me back to the day.

agingriotgrrrl said...

haha, i remember almost every single one of these pages. i was 11 when that rupaul article came out and i remember showing it to my friends in an attempt to freak them out. oh, what a little jerk i was....
to those peeps who are younger & wish they were around when sassy was--sassy, at least in my high school, was still considered really weird, and most girls didn't read it.
i think it would be really hard to duplicate sassy in this day & age, simply because sassy existed before the internet, and back in the 90's, for those of us stuck in small towns, it really truly was our only link to a better world. if i hadn't had sassy i don't know what i would've done, or how unexciting my life probably would have been. it really was THAT IMPORTANT, but now the internet's rolled around, no magazine can really be that important ever again.
honestly, and i'm not just saying this, this blog reminds me of a 2010 version of sassy in some ways--the daring fashion choices & fresh, often-imitated-but-never-duplicated unique voice. for realz.

Fauxpasnouveau said...

Tavi, I love that u love Sassy because that was my favorite teen zine when I was a girl and I always wondered why it disappeared from the shelves. Thanks for bringing it back to life:)
<3

thriftalina said...

oh Tavi! I mean of all the blogs, yours does get my heart racing with its incredible inspiration, but NEVER, NEVERRRR did I think I would ever see my beautiful sassy pages (intact) ever again!
This post made me all weepy, moist, fluttery and remorseful...I used to have all of these issues and more, and LOVED my Sassy subscription more than life -even tho I only had ordered it at the time because it was the cheapest of all the teen fashion mags and one I could actually afford-I had no clue it was changing my life forever!) I was a "scrappy" teen and thought it wise to cut up every single cool thing out of every single magazine, chucking all of them afterward- I was sadly only left with one Sassy issue intact and it had to be one of later, crappier editions right before it folded so it's not nearly the same...I can't thank you enough for posting this, but now letsee if ANY of us ever get any from ebay for less than a maybach at this point! ;)

thriftalina said...

I do own every single issue of Jane magazine, and even a few doubles...
I will never ever forget that writing staff, they were/are the best and I feel bad for those who are now stuck writing boring articles nowadays...I still love Jane Pratt! just had to add that...So Tavi? whats in the works here??????

Meridith said...

I had that "Bitch" poem in my locker when I was in highschool!Yes, I was that girl in the early 90's wearing fishnets,babydolls and combat boots. Glad to see there are still young girls out there that are cool!

Mitch said...

OMG. i have ALL these issues of sassy. or i did, before the flood wiped them all out (and my house with it, i might add. and more importantly, my two viv westwood tops). anyway, i love you! you are so cool!

Natascha said...

THIS IS FANTASTIC!!!!!

Eva / Sycamore Street Press said...

Wow. This post really takes me back. I specifically remember that "Dopey Model Poses" spread! I'm gonna have to read that book.

One Saucy Mama said...

I am desperately looking for a poem from Sassy magazine regarding "Dandelions" and would pay a price to get a copy. I think it has the phrase in it, "I used to pick dandelions and bring them to mommy to make her smile". If you have any information on this poem or can help me to get a copy I would be most appreciative as it has significant meaning for me. My email address is: amymullens@hotmail.com

THANKS!!

78seattle said...

Apparently there's a new Canadian mag out claiming to be the new Sassy:

http://hardlymagazine.com/

So far I must say I'm a little bit impressed. It's artsy, intelligent and has great advice like "what to look for when you raid your mom's closet"!

Curious to hear what you think :)

- cody b.

http://onthisdayinfashion.com

Lulu said...

Being of the Sassy generation, I never realized how lucky we were to have a Non-Vogue, Non-Tiger Beat magazine to get lost in and be inspired by. If only I would have saved the cajillion back issues I had stacked in my middle school closet- I would have sent them all your way. I feel like sending my mom your blog post and saying "See?! You said those old magazines would never be worth anything..."
Love your writing!
xo

Brandy said...

Sassy saved my life when I was a teenager. It opened my eyes to a whole new world outside of my tiny, podunk, conservative Southern town. Sassy gave me the courage to be unafraid to march to the beat of a different drummer. The things I learned in that magazine molded me not only into the woman I am today but also the mother I am as well. My girls will be better off for me having learned so much from Sassy.

Miss.XoXo said...

I want to thank you a billion times for this post! I grew up reading Sassy magazine...I was probably about 12 or so at the time. I was obsessed with this magazine. For a while now I had been wondering what happened to it or why they stopped printing it.

Looking at all the pics you provided really take me back to those days! I actually remember some of those ads, pictures, and stories!
Thank you for this! =)

Akosua said...

The Ugg/phone thing is everywhere! I used to do it(when I had a phone) but not in Uggs9because I don't own any. instead i put them in my buckle boots which eventually led to my phone being more scratched than a couch in a cat house

Mannish said...

I love seeing this. I photographed the "Promtasia" story in 1996(?). We got a fan letter that read: What is wrong with you people? It looks like you brushed the models hair with a shoe." Still so proud of that.

david jensen said...

I love seeing this. I photographed the "Promtasia" story in 1996(?). We got a fan letter that read: What is wrong with you people? It looks like you brushed the models hair with a shoe." Still so proud of that.

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