Paper Magazine: The Oral History of a Downtown Institution

Paper Magazine: The Oral History of a Downtown Institution

Maggie McCormick, Office Manager, 1985–1993: There were so many moments in Paper when you knew the world was changing. I saw LL Cool J’s first performance.

Fenton Bailey, producer, former paper columnist: The vibe was, “Hip-hop is a fad. It will come and go.” And the attitude of the paper was not like this.

Dennis Dermody, film critic, 1986–2017: I got a call from David Hershkovits. He said, “Listen, we need a film critic, and I hear you always go to the movies. We don’t pay.” And I said, “Well, that makes the pot sweeter.” But who else would let me publish an article titled “How to Cook and Eat Macaulay Culkin”?

Christine Mühlke, managing editor, 1994–2000: I had to ask Bell Hooks if she would write a column for us. I said, “I can only pay you $100 a month but I promise I won’t change a word.” He said, “Sweetie, this is the best, sweetest thing I have ever heard in my life. Yes!”

Eileen Miles, poet, activist: I had just run for president, so I had a very strong idea of ​​who I was, and I didn’t know where to go next, and they gave me this opportunity to fall into their trap. I wrote everything I was thinking about – millennial cults, the labor movement, living gay in the country. They were open.

Denise Dermody: We were doing the April Fool’s issue in 1995, the year Disney was publishing “Pocahontas.” So I wrote this funny article about how I saw a screening of it and it was cheesy, dirty, and about to get an NC-17 rating. La Stampa in Rome put out a big article: “Scandal Rocks Disney!” Disney held a press conference saying it was just a joke. David called me over and said, “You have to get down here, because your article is an international phenomenon.” I couldn’t stop laughing.

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