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Meet The Woman Behind A Tumblr Devoted to Sassy Magazine
In the late 1980s and early 1990s there was one glossy bible that helped shaped the young women of Generation X: Sassy. The magazine was founded in 1988 by Jane Pratt, and focused on music, fashion, trends, and how to be one badass cool chick. "Sassy was the antithesis of the homecoming queen, please-your-boyfriend culture," explained NPR in 2007. "It published articles about suicide and STDs while Seventeen was still teaching girls how to get a boy to notice you."
For those who remember the glimpse of edgy womanhood the teen magazine afforded its readers, local blogger Sherrie Gulmahamad has digitized memory lane by scanning in her old issues and posting them to her Tumblr, Sassy Magazine LIVES.We got in touch with Gulmahamad, 36, to talk to her about her collection, bringing to the web and what it means to be a Sassy girl then, and now.
LAist: How many issues of Sassy do you have? Were you a subscriber or a newsstand shopper?
Gulmahamad: I just sat down to count them, I have 31 issues in the "archive." I was a subscriber but I think my subscription would lapse a bit while I wheedled a check out of my parents.
When did you start the blog?
I just got an email from Tumblr letting me know I started it 2 years ago! I don't update it often enough, I know.
What compelled you to take Sassy to Tumblr?
I was spending a lot of time on Tumblr, kind of undercover, not chatting with other users, just enjoying using doing my own pop culture and cinema-centric microblogging. It's hard not to notice after even a little amount of time on Tumblr that many of the young millennials on that site are 90s obsessed, especially the lasses who focus their Tumblr blogs on fashion. I wanted to provide them with some original content that really has stood the test of time.
What was it about Sassy that was so meaningful to you and gen x women?
I spent the early to mid 90s buried in the 909, the Inland Empire, 45 minutes outside of Los Angeles. I had strict immigrant parents that didn't exactly let me to go concerts or record stores or any sort of place where I might be exposed to someone - or spend too much money. Sassy was literally the first place I ever read about "riot grrls"! Bands like Bikini Kill, L7, Sleater-Kinney couldn't be found at Warehouse Records in Montclair, California. Reading Sassy was a conduit to a whole other world - remember, we didn't have the Internet then (old person hissssss).
Photo courtesy Sherrie Gulmahamad/Sassy Magazine LIVES
Sassy was different from YM and Teen and Seventeen - it had a tone (edgy yet playful) and let its writers' voices and experiences shine through. Sassy wanted you to feel good about yourself - there were women of color in their fashion spreads, as well as punk girls, goth girls. It was all very feminist, but without being preachy. Plus the content was just brilliant, and I love to revisit it. Two of my favorite pieces are a recipe from Sonic Youth and a gender-bending Bob Dylan fashion spread that pre-dates the Todd Haynes movie by 13 years. This stuff still means a lot to me because it's still really solid, it's all aged so well, just like me, heh heh.Did you deliberately curate a Sassy mag collection or are you just a hoarder?
I still love magazines BUT I have learned to throw them out since then. Something just told me to save these Sassys. I know I didn't save them all, I had more issues and threw some out when I was living at home. I kept a few YMs and looked at them recently - they're terrible! It was typical "how not to get zits on prom night" junk.
I'm kind of bitter about those missing issues, especially since I recently discovered that the premiere issue of Sassy Magazine was going for $225 on eBay.
Best lessons from Sassy?
Be yourself, be your size, wear your hair the way you want, be the kind of woman you want to be, and above all be freakin' SASSY about it!
Most cherished issue?
The famous Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love issue, April 1992. (Another old person hisssss: look how much they were in love.)
What's the reaction from fans been? Do you get lots of offers for people to send you their scans?
Followers are particularly intent on a Twin Peaks inspired fashion spread that I just don't have. That's the piece that gets the most requests. I have gotten a few offers for scans - but I feel like issues of Sassy are getting pretty rare so I need to follow up with those ladies.
How does Pratt's current website xojane compare to Sassy? Remember, you're a sassy girl, so don't be shy!
Xojane does a great job covering a lot of those sensitive topics ladies need to bring out into the open - there are lots of "It Happened to Me" columns from the OG Sassy days about rape, self-abuse, eating disorders, etc. Xojane is keeping that flame alive by bravely discussing tough issues. Jane Pratt and the chicas of xojane.com heard what I was up to and slipped me a rare Polaroid to upload as a high five.
It will always hard to match Sassy's chemistry of effortless cool and punky-girl confidence - although a good dose of Carrie Brownstein, whether in Twitter, TV or musical form, is always a good substitute.
Sherrie Gulmahamad is on Twitter as @citizenrobot.