Paper Magazine: The Oral History of a Downtown Institution

Maggie McCormick, office manager, 1985-1993: There were just so many moments at Paper when you knew the world was being changed. I saw one of LL Cool J’s first performances.

Fenton Bailey, producer, former Paper columnist: The vibe was, “Hip-hop is a fad. It’ll come and go.” And that was not the attitude of Paper.

Dennis Dermody, film critic, 1986-2017: I got a call from David Hershkovits. He said, “Listen, we need a film critic, and I hear you go to the movies all the time. We don’t pay.” And I said, “Well, that sweetens the pot.” But who else would let me put out an article called “How to Cook and Eat Macaulay Culkin”?

Christine Muhlke, managing editor, 1994-2000: I got to ask bell hooks if she’d write a column for us. I said, “I can only pay you $100 a month but I promise I won’t change a word.” She said, “Sweetie, that is the nicest, sweetest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Yes!”

Eileen Myles, poet, activist: I had just run for president, so I had this excessive idea of who I was, and I didn’t know where to go next, and those guys offered me this opportunity to be in their web. I wrote whatever the hell I was thinking about — millennial cults, labor movements, being queer living in the country. They were wide open.

Dennis Dermody: We were doing an April Fool’s issue in 1995, the year Disney was putting out “Pocahontas.” So I wrote this jokey article about how I saw a screening of it and it was depraved, filthy, and was going to get an NC-17 rating. La Stampa, in Rome, put up a big article: “Scandal Rocks Disney!” Disney held a press conference to say it was just a joke. David called me and said, “You’ve got to get down here, because your article is an international incident.” I couldn’t stop laughing.