(Originally published on MOLI 8/12/8)
Fifteen years ago, three smart ladies in NYC decided they didn’t see any magazines that spoke to hip urbanites like themselves. The glossies were too, well, glossy — not to mention governed by a beauty myth that seemed so 1980s. Sassy was aimed at younger women, Ms. at older. Debbie Stoller, Marcelle Karp, and Laurie Henzel craved a publication that spoke to women the way the music of Liz Phair and Missy Elliot did. So in the spirit of those DIY early ’90s days, they decided to start one themselves.
The fact that BUST is still alive and well is in part a miracle, but it’s also a testament to the incredible savvy and tenacity of its founders. I know: I was starting my own publication, a multiculti multisexy journal called Resister, around the same time. And despite the collegial help and advice of the BUST ladies back then, Resister only lasted two issues. I didn’t have the stomach for figuring out how to get circulated as alternative distributors went belly up, for getting money from advertisers, for not being able to pay contributors, for celebrity wrangling.
All of which is to say BUST, I salute you! Along with Bitch — another publication that has amazingly stayed the course since those heady days — BUST captures the interests and insights of that group of proactive women who earned various names: third-wave feminists, postfeminists, do-me feminists, whatever. The magazine’s title is a pun on the fact this is a publication intended for the female half of that demographic that was all the rage, the baby bust. BUST focuses on artists and activists who are expanding the definitions of gender roles and of feminism, women like Kim Gordon, Bjork, Amy Poehler, Chloe Sevigny, Tina Fey, etc. Karp and Stoller’s book The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order was one of the first bibles of this generation. Stoller’s later knitting tomes may not have lit the same feminist fires, but they did help spawn the whole crafting movement.
Tonight Stoller and Henzel celebrate their anniversay with a killer shindig at Spiegelworld in New York (Karp was bought out of the company many years ago). Funny lady Amy Sedaris will host, JD Samson DJs. Peformers include Morningwood, Leslie Hall, Murray Hill, and Free Blood. It’s sold out — that’s how cool and smart BUST still is, 15 years later.