Cheap Date is the best magazine in the universe (3.04)

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When I went to bed after the Cheap Date launch party I had to place my head on my pillow with my hands because my neck had stopped working after so much headbanging. That’s the sign of a great night.

I don’t know how Kira Jolliffe, who started Cheap Date in the UK, and co-editor Bay Garnett cope with the pace. Between them they produce the best magazine in the universe. They know everyone, they are charming enough to get ridiculously famous people to do the most bizarre but brilliant stunts, Cheap Date can make you howl with laughter, it’s fun, glamorous, hip and knowing. It has the best writers (hoo hoo, including me me me!) and the best photographers, in fact it’s the perfect mag.

Issue 10 features the definitive Chubster photostory, plus drrrag racing, pin-ups, rockers and rappers duking it out for fashion supremacy, Harmony Korine, doggy outfits, Anita Pallenberg and Harry Hill’s unforgettably fab paintings.

Here’s what Kira and Bay say about it all.

How would you describe Cheap Date to an alien?
Kira: Fun is how I would describe Cheap Date. I mean its lots more than that, but I like people just reading it for themselves. I mean, there is no doubt Cheap Date is original, but I like people making their own minds up. So I would tell an alien: “It’s a laugh.”

Bay: A disorganised method of two human beings to try to gain self-esteem and bring extra smiles to local members of their species, and hopefully to others. Their medium is flat tree pulp, upon which language and pictures are printed. The same two human beings are seeking money – the increasingly primary means of trade on earth – as a result of their time and energy spent producing it.

What are your ambitions for the mag?
Kira: For it to become quarterly and better edited, somehow fitting in with my family life.

Bay: I’d like it to be a commercial success. For me and Kira to make a living! For it to be the best it can to reach its potential, which I don’t think has quite happened yet.

What makes a good magazine?
Kira: Generous, intimate, funny and informative is what I like. I don’t really read magazines. I’m out of touch with what’s good right now.

Bay: In terms of magazines being good, for me it completely depends what mood I’m in. Sometimes I love flicking through US or NOW. Sometimes I love The New Yorker, and sometimes a glossy fashion mag. I always do get The New Yorker though, and I think it is brilliant. A really great mag. But mags are like movies for me, whatever suits my mood.

What did you both think of each other when you first met?
Bay: When I first met Kira I was twelve years old. My elder sister had just moved school and Kira was her new best friend. I was very square. She was the opposite, seemed to me to be very sophisticated. I was intrigued by her, I remember her being quite silent and cool. She was always the coolest cat. Always a step ahead of everyone else in terms of hair cuts, jeans, boots – you name it, she was doing it. She was always lovely to me; treated me as her equal, and that meant a lot at that age. I would always love it if I was left alone with her in the kitchen, because I just loved hanging out with her. She has always been the same. The coolest!

Kira: My friend’s little sister is a pretty, shy 12 year-old wearing a long black skirt for some reason.

I sometimes hear people saying that charity shopping used to be better years ago when it was less trendy, and I think it’s a myth. What do you think?
Bay: I agree with you, charity shopping is the same as it always was. If you do it, you do it. I think it’s falling into the trend just by saying that it has all changed. I’m always finding great things. I don’t think more people thrift now, now that it is trendy. You thrift because you do, because it is kind in your blood, part of your makeup, not because it is trendy. Trendies wouldn’t really understand it. Vintage, definitely, but vintage is very different from thrift stores, I think. I never see trendies in charity shops, just a great mix of people, old ladies, mothers, etc.

Kira: It’s the same as saying music’s got worse. Get with it, fogeys!

Is fashion a force for good, or a force for evil?
Kira: Namby pamby answer: neither. The evil stuff that’s connected with fashion like intolerance, knee high boot stilettos with jeans and slave labour are more because of capitalism than fashion. Style (if you can differentiate that from fashion) is evil, n’est ce pas?

Bay: I have an ambivalent relationship with fashion. I sometimes think it is a force of evil. The yearning that it creates. Not for clothes, but for thinness, for beauty, for perfection, and of course for the thousand dollar t-shirt. But I also love fashion, it is what I do. I just did a ten page story for British Vogue. Loved doing it. Fashion is part of our times. Look back at old fashion pictures, they are such a potent and strong indicator of the age, of the time. I love that. I think it all depends who is being affected by fashion, but these images – of course it is evil to the fourteen year old chubby girl who wants to look like Giselle, and wear the clothes she is wearing, but for other people (myself included) they look at the pictures, enjoy them, or think they are shit, and move on – or take their own ideas from it.

As a chubber I have a tenuous relationship to fashion. Fashionable clothes never come in my size so I tend to focus on other ways of expressing myself. I wish I was more of a dandy and more daring in my dressing. What fashion advice do you have for me?
Bay: I have no fashion advice for you Charlotte! I think you look fabulous the way you are! I love your t-shirts! It’s really about having your own style more than anything, and you have that in spades!

Kira: The shopping’s good in Dubuque, Iowa, USA, where thrift stores have those springy hangers made especially wide – like 4 foot, to accommodate size million lavendar shorts-type-stuff. Or why not give this a try: you’d look 10 sizes smaller in muted, dark, rich colours, a layered chiffon shift dress for skimming the fuller figure and a burgundy velvet tassled shawl, petite court shoes would then elongate. Finishing touch: large brooch. Oh I don’t know!

Aside from Cheap Date, what other projects do you have on the go?
Bay: I am a contributing editor for British Vogue, and I do other work that comes my way.

Kira: Theodora Roberta Blessings Brown, four months old.

How did going to New York and producing Cheap Date there affect the magazine?
Kira: Bay came on board, Cheap Date became a major part of her life – they formed a symbiotic relationship. It gave the magazine a vibe/reputation of modern glamour which is really valuable and which my mind-set couldn’t have allowed. Now Cheap Date has some mainstream recognition, I would have destroyed it before it got this far.

Bay: I think New York affected Cheap Date a lot. It definitely got a New York make-over, some of the gloss and glamour that is so to do with NY. I love all that, and I think that kind of slickness and that particular glamour look great in Cheap Date.

Kira, please tell us about your amazing dad.
Kira: Gray Jolliffe. He used to write ad slogans (was somehow involved in ‘Mash Make Smash’ and ‘The Appliance of Science’). Cartooning took over when everyone cottoned on to him being a total genius. He drew the original Monster Munch monsters. Seen the Blu Loo loo? He drew Wicked Willy. This was a man and his talking penis and lots of jokes on their differences of opinion. It turned into an early 80s craze with lots of merchandising and a little known female spin-off: Pussy Pie. He was a serious Soho face for decades, rarely seen outside his penthouse sex pad or the Groucho Club. He’s a hard-working cartoonist with strips in various newspapers and magazines. Thinking up loads of (really quite funny) jokes every day, all he really wants to do is saw through bits of wood, play with his train set and draw on silk, which is his new hobby.

Bay, could you say a little bit about the inspiring and go-getting women in your family? You’re the youngest, right?
Bay: I am the youngest. My mother is a writer who has been awarded and OBE for her services for literature. I have two sisters who were always very academic. Much more so than me! I was always a bit of a thickie! I could never write like them, or get their kind of grades. I think maybe I turned to the visual (which thrifting is, clothes too) as antidote to not being very successful at school. I still have a total block with writing, I just always felt I couldn’t do it. I don’t think I can! But they are all amazing, and I love them.

What fashion trends would you like to see forthcoming?
Bay: Kira’s fashion strike of course! Everyone in big white sheets man!

Kira: Usually I’d say: “Please not what I’m currently in to – for once.” Coz I am style leader of the planet and everyone copies me. But now I still think passé stuff like fishnets and polkadots are kind of great. So anyway, I suppose I would like to see them following my mommy-pants-for-that-post-natal-tummy-bulge-look in a few Vogue fashion spreads. Always had a fantasy of food-themed fashion – the hot dog coat, the falafel hat, the banana gloves, cornish pasty slippers etc. Not that relevantly I’d like to ask: why is fashion so colourful, frilly and frivolous considering the pessimistic state of the world this century? I thought it was supposed to be in touch in that kind of way. Have the trendsetters forgotten?

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Kira: Thanks to Jigsaw for sponsoring this issue of Cheap Date. Said it a few times but I really am grateful because I suspect is actually was an act of genuine generosity from their boss, John Robinson.