ten MINUTES WITH MATT BERMAN
Rabble Rouser in conversation with the rabble-rousing creative director, who, alongside JFK Jr. created George Magazine the pioneering publication that bridged the gap between politics and popular culture.
JFK Jr. drawn by cartoonist Barry Blitt, The New Yorker, August 9, 1999.
Do you think George predicted the rise of the "celebrity" politician/president?
Yes, for sure. George was popular way before Colbert, Jon Steward and all the other pop-culture satires and late-night show
You mentioned in an interview with Esquire that someone from Graydon Carter's Vanity Fair told you to put "Hitler" on the cover thinking you'd take the cheap bait. Do you think they were worried about George?
George got a lot of attention and like all things successful, people like to poke at it. I think the editor who said that was half joking. Barry Blitt did a great cartoon of mock George covers. Try to find it.
Political players in the pages of George who are still at the top today?
George Stephanopoulos, Hillary Clinton, Arianna Huffington, Ruth Ginsberg.
I know that George will not be revived, but do you think it would ever be considered to rerun any of the articles?
I think it would be great to create a George website of archived images and articles as a tribute to John Kennedy. Maybe one day?
What do people usually get wrong when they try to make them work together? What did George get right?
We used fashion to create visual excitement in the costumes on the covers, etc. We never did fashion for fashion except for when we asked designers to create what USA school uniforms could look like.
What was your golden rule while working as creative director?
Be open minded, listen to all ideas and comments, work with the best photographers and photo researchers, and try to do things in an unexpected way…don't rely on past patterns or ways of doing things. Think freely!
What's one story from your time at George that you'd be willing to share? Mundane (I know this is highly unlikely) or outrageous something you think should be known when telling its story.
I love the story of John meeting Whoopi Goldberg as we shot her as Rosa Parks. It really shows John's humor.
Who, at George was the biggest rabble rouser?
Anne Coulter, Al Franken and Lisa DePaulo.