On working indie mags in NYC

Mary H.K Choi offers a personal and candid take of slogging it out in the indie mag scene in New York City.

Young and starry-eyed, Choi arrived in New York and took an office job. “The city, though,” she writes, in a column for The New York Times, “was a sparkly scavenger hunt and the prospect of office drag and a trudging predetermined trajectory sent me reeling into a panic attack. I fainted in my empty apartment and woke up wanting something else.” That something else, it turns out, was working “crazy-making hours” for an independent magazine for young women called Missbehave, which focuses on “messy girls”: riot grrls, socialities, porn stars and “anyone we deemed interesting.”

Choi finds herself in charge of an army of interns, each one a bundle of aspiration and New York jitters:

“This new breed was a misfit clique that blogged, researched, fact-checked, ferried samples, lugged equipment and got bylines for their trouble. They held down second jobs in restaurants, bars, hair salons and temp offices and were rewarded with glossy titles the longer they stayed. They worked hard, raged hard and accessorized aggressively. Earrings became blowfish-big to draw attention and ward off predators. Their hungriest, slipperiest years were terrifying to behold. The ones who grew up in New York seemed to take it all in stride and precociously had a sense of their breaking point and breezily steered well clear of it. The transplants that had to build work, friendship and love from scratch all went a bit nuts and cannibalized themselves and others.”