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.
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.
"An anti-priss fantasy starring three demented wallflowers." Aka, my dressing guide for the graduation dance next month.
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:
AFJSDGJHSDIUGHSDOGS I love you? Also how incredible is that haircut? And homemade patchwork hats? And also did I mention that I love her?
Unashamed feminism, complete with Barbara Kruger fonts:
(From the yearly Reader-Produced Issue.)
Calling out American values or pasttimes for, well, sucking:
Thinking about teen culture:
(From the Reader-Produced Issue, complete with Daniel Clowes cartoon!)
(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:
Seriously reminding me of 80's/90's Comme des Garcons ads.
Anyone remember when Nylon did this exact same DIY a couple years ago? Mhmm.
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:
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.