Say hello to Jane.
If you’ve not met, let me properly introduce you:
Jane was the BEST magazine ever. This issue –– the PREMIERE issue –– was (and still is) my favorite issue of any magazine ever.
Jane is why I became a journalist.
Jane and Mark Twain and a couple of other things.
But mostly Jane.
Jane was the brainchild of Sassy Magazine’s founding editor Jane Pratt.
Jane Pratt was my idol.
The magazine premiered in my favorite month (September) in 1997, with my girl Drew Barrymore on the cover.
I’ve had a girl crush on Drew for a long time. Turns out so did Jane. The two dated in the early 1990s.
This issue has moved with me six times over the course of 13 years. That’s my copy up there. I scanned it. It remains in pristine condition, except for a few pages I foolishly cut up in 1999 to decorate the cork board in my bedroom.
My sophomore year of college, I tore out the best first-person essay ever written from the pages of this premiere issue. It was penned by Powder actor Sean Patrick Flanery and it was a beautiful sun-drenched piece of writing. One of my journalism professors had asked us to bring in a prized possession. I brought in this story, shoved in a manila folder. When my classmates looked at me cross-eyed, like how can your most prized possession be a magazine story? I replied that it wasn’t the ink and paper I was attached to, it was the story that wouldn’t leave my head.
I could have brought in any number of possessions, but this one seemed the most worthy. At the time nothing filled me with more passion than writing. I wasn’t cherishing a trinket. I was cherishing a dream.
I’ve still got the story. It’s stuffed in the same Rubbermaid bin that contains the above issue of Jane.
When Jane ceased publication in August 2007, it’s readership was devastated, but not surprised. By 2006, the magazine was an emaciated version of its former self. Jane Pratt had resigned as editor-in-chief and issues had become increasingly difficult to find.
The magazine business is as much a cutthroat corporate beast as is any creative mass market industry.
I understand why Jane folded. She was too smart for her own good.
She was wicked, misunderstood, goofy, open-minded, cutting when need be and flowery when the topic warranted it. She was snarky before I even knew what snarky meant. She cared about fashion enough to pass as hip, but not so much that she snubbed the joys of thrift store shopping.
I recall Jane stories the way Joe recalls movie lines.
I remember in one issue, the magazine ran a scathingly honest profile of country diva Faith Hill and a back-of-the-book essay on why it’s far more interesting to wear a giant pink rabbit costume for Halloween than it is to dress up as a slutty nurse.
Every so often I come across a Jane writer’s byline in some other magazine and I run to Joe with the book flung open like I’ve just unearthed a diamond from the crusty earth.
It’s no secret that most magazines for women are dumbed down, fluffed-up, prissy, neutered wastes of paper. The puffy, always-glowing celebrity profiles make me gag. The writing is banal and packed with cliches.
If I had an older sister like Jane, we’d start fires with the pages torn from dim-witted women’s magazines.
We’d have a freakin blast.
PS. In 2002, Adweek Magazine named Jane Pratt “Editor of the Year.”