Author: Ryan Deussing --- Date: 02/23/96 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC

FAT magazine
18 Spring Street, #2F
New York, NY, 10012

The first issue of FAT magazine("Good & Evil") appeared on newstands all over New York and the world in the Spring of 1994. This month, the unveiling of issue no. 2 was cause for a much-hyped party at Greene Naftali. I missed the festivities, so I decided to call publisher Josephine Meckseper at home and--under the guise of journalistic investigation--find out what the hype was all about. We were joined by the magazine's Senior Editor, Joe Holyfield.

Click HERE to check out the cover of the latest issue.

RD: I want to find out what FAT is all about. I've seen two issues in as many years--how often does it come out?

JM: Well, it's not coming out very regularly, but we're trying to produce two issues a year.

RD: What are you trying to do with the magazine?

JH: It's an art magazine, but it's one which caters to neither of its constituencies; neither the one suggested by the word 'art' nor the one suggested by the word 'magazine'. To sum it up in, say, three words I would say it's a "war against bullshit." It's designed to throw open the doors to a larger community; art fends for itself in a stream of popular culture.

JM: It's much less an academic magazine than a sort of blue-collar art magazine, so it will make sense to people who don't know much about art. It's also entertaining for people who can't figure out what it's about.

RD: I belong to the latter category, although it seems that one of the most important things is the layout of the magazine, which is full of random photographs that have been touched-up and are juxtaposed with the text. I guess all of these old pictures had to be bought from an archive?

JM: Actually they're all art pieces, even the advertising is mostly art.

JH: But the photo of the Serbian terrorist Arkan on his wedding-day is a journalistic image that had to be bought. The magazine repays examination; it has the look of a mock-tabloid at first and may seem frivolous, but if you examine it it has a certain unity which holds everything together. You can take the time to read it, there's plenty to read.

JM: It's not merely sensational--it's much more serious than it first appears.

RD: That's what I was wondering when I first looked at it: how serious is this? What are all these articles about, anyway?

JM: FAT is probably the most subjective magazine on any stand. It's very much about our personal choice and most of the people who contribute to the magazine are people we know.

JH: But we have accepted submissions from other people. Some people have just walked into the office off the street. Richard Ryan, who wrote the piece in this issue entitled "Hard-asses of the Confederacy", for example.

JM: Of course there's a theme to each issue. The first was "Good & Evil" and this one is "Surrender"--we look for contributions that have to do with the over-riding idea.

RD: What is there to say about issue no.2?

JH: Well you'll find a tag from Henry Miller under the editorial: "like a soldier who gets what he's been waiting for, I was dispatched to the rear." Of course the title of the magazine is FAT, which is already antithetical to the strivings of millions of Americans who are trying to shave off pounds of their weight. "Surrender" is another very antithetical idea, it's not one of our national traits. The kind of writing we want is writing which is not self-conscious, which is a little bit self-abandoned--we're aiming for a sense of liberation from dramatic conventions and from sterile oppositions like liberal/conservative and all of that tweedle-dee-tweedle-dum market controversy which is 80% of your diet in the press. I guess we're flying a flag of pulp, at least visually, but it's "pulp against pap", which is our make-shift slogan. The best way to see what FAT is about is to take a copy and to show it to a pedant, and mark his reaction.

RD: Do you have to look very hard to find the nagazine?

JM: It's actually distributed world-wide, but in New York you can get at at Tower Books, Barnes & Noble, Papyrus, and at almost every newstand.

Josephine volunteered to read an excerpt from her editorial in issue no. 1: "Personally, I prefer Italian porn to art-publications, and I was aroused by the idea that young writers and artists would go down on me in return for publishing their errata. Ardent young men sucking their way into print. Like May West, I like to be visited between the holidays. Having spent a string of art-grants on cocaine and car body-work, I had nothing to lose." This was so much fun that she kept on, this time reading from her editorial in issue no.2: "I never said that cunnilingus guaranteed publication in FAT; it's merely a precondition and much easier than establishing academic credentials, mastering one's language, visiting foreign battlefields or many of the other conventional routes. Nonetheless some wrinkled carp is litigating because he did the dive but I didn't print his jive. When I belonged to the East-German Stasi I secretly adored American pop-culture, but since moving to the states I've revised my opinion: people here are either screwing or suing eachother."

RD: How did FAT get started?

JM: Well, when I got to New York I didn't really find anything that I felt compeleed to be a part of, so I decided to create my own context to allow certain ideas of mine to happen. There are a lot of artists and writers who are amazing and whose work I wanted to see published.

JH: Although there are writers and artists appearing in the magazine, it's virtually useless as a tool of self-promotion. When you see a painting, it'll have a credit on the side like a photojournalist's credit--it sinks or swims in the stream of images. It's not an ART IN AMERICA type promotional blurb. FAT leaves out the mediations of priests and charlatans; if a reader wants to discover more about the artists whose material makes up the magazine, they're invited to do that on their own terms.

Queries and submissions to FAT are welcome by mail or by fax at (212)226-7347. The editors stress that they look at everything--"This is not a clique that you have to penetrate." Look for issue no.3 in the fall.

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