Kara Jesella & Marisa Meltzer | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Kara Jesella & Marisa Meltzer 

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From 1988 to 1994 Sassy redefined the teen magazine with its unapologetic feminism, frank talk about sex, and intimate, insidery coverage of music and pop culture. For How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Marisa Meltzer, a freelance journalist who's written for everything from Bitch to Slate, and Kara Jesella, an editor at the New York Times, interviewed former Sassy staffers and fans and bought up back issues on eBay. Their chatty account dishes plenty of gossip--which staffers were living together, which spent more time chasing bands than working--and unpacks a lot of the animosity engendered in staffers by editor in chief Jane Pratt, who went on to found the eponymous Jane. The Sassy mandate was mainly to introduce girls in Middle America to a "white indie culture whose priority was never about making ends meet," a mission, the authors point out, that excluded many. Still, they make the case that in its day Sassy was the only teen magazine fearlessly writing for young women and encouraging them to cast a gimlet eye on prepackaged hit-factory culture. Perhaps just as important, it inspired a new generation of young writers like themselves to go forth and do the same. Venus Zine hosts this reading and Q and A; the band Coupleskate plays. a Thu 5/31, 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8, 21+. -

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Kate Lacey.

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