BYT Interviews: Laurie Henzel of BUST Magazine
Megan | Jul 24, 2013 | 1:45PM | Uncategorized

Guys, BUST Magazine has officially been around for TWENTY YEARS! That’s obviously cause for celebration, and celebrate we will at the Bell House tomorrow night for the official 20th anniversary party! The soiree has impressive names on its roster, including hostess Julie Klausner, the Broad City girls, Har Mar Superstar, plus many, many more. If you haven’t snagged yourself a ticket, DO IT NOW, ’cause I seriously doubt this is an evening you’ll want to miss. In the meantime, perhaps you’d like to settle in for a good old internet-eavesdrop session on a conversation between myself and the ultra-great Laurie Henzel, BUST’s Co-Publisher and Creative Director. HERE WE GO:

Photo via Kelly’s Krush Korner on VICE (you should read that, too…)

So twenty years of BUST! That’s insane!

I know, we’re so old!

It doesn’t seem like such a long time, though. How did you get involved in the first place?

I first met Debbie at Nickelodeon, and there was another girl involved in BUST there, too (named Marcelle), and those two actually came to me and said, “We’re thinking about putting together a compilation of stories.” I was a graphic designer at Nickelodeon, and so they said, “Do you want to help us?” So I said, “Sure!” I was into graphic novels and comics and things like that, and I knew what zines were (I read some music zines back in the day), but they basically asked all their friends to write a personal story, and they asked different artists to illustrate or design each page. So it really felt to me like a one-off art project.

They xeroxed and stapled those first 500 copies at Nickelodeon after work, sent it out into the world, and we were smart enough to put our address in there (and actually, I think an email address, too), and people liked it and said, “When’s the next one coming out?” So we kind of looked at each other and said, “Oh, well I guess we need to do another one.” But it was super grungy and not at all professional, although some would probably argue that we’re still not very professional. [Laughs]

So did you have any idea that it would be even remotely as huge as it has been?

No, no. We really had no idea. After we did a few more and got a positive response, we decided we’d have subscriptions and mail people copies, and it was a labor of love for many years. Our dream, though, was always to do it and have it be our jobs, because we didn’t have any money, there were no parental backers or anything like that, and if we made $500 from sales, we’d put it all into the next issue, which would maybe be a tiny bit fancier. (For a long time the covers were color and the insides were black and white.) It was a dream to make it our full-time jobs, so that was pretty exciting when that happened. And shocking! [Laughs]

I bet! Now, there seems to be a zine renaissance happening right now. How do you feel about that development?

I think it’s great! I’ve actually seen a little resurgence in the last couple of years; there wasn’t anything, and now, because it’s so much easier to do with at-home printers, we’re seeing much more activity. I also think it’s part of the craft movement, where people want to do things and make things with their hands after sitting in front of the computer all day. I do love zines, though, and I don’t really often buy them, but occasionally I’ll pick one up. I love print, too; the sad part about these days is that print is sort of ebbing away. It’s such a bummer.

I know, it’s so sad! I can’t get used to Kindles.

Yeah, I like iPads and stuff, and maybe if I traveled and was on a plane two times a week I might read my stuff on Kindles and iPads, but I like books and magazines. I actually sometimes even buy the newspaper, and I feel like such a weirdo when I’m reading it on the train.

Right, it feels so bulky! It’s bizarre. Well, on that same note, thinking back to the start of BUST in 1993, is there anything from that time that you get nostalgic for that didn’t travel with us to the present? Or on the flip-side of that, is there anything you’re glad to have left behind?

You know, I look at pictures of myself from 1993, and I didn’t really like the cut of the pants back then, so I’m glad that the styles have changed. [Laughs] It was a weird time. Personally, I was dressing like I was from the 1970s, but I feel like my jeans had a really weird cut; it was a high waist, but it wasn’t a cool high waist, it was somewhere in between. There were also a lot of black leggings, which I didn’t like.

In terms of what I wish was still around, I guess I would have to say going to the record store. I mean, you can still do that, but we used to go to the record store when new stuff came out and look at the records. (CDs were around, but we still bought records at the time.) And cassette tapes! I miss making a tape from a record; that was fun and kind of special. (I still have mine from my boyfriend, who’s now my husband, but I can’t play it because I don’t have a tape player.) Again, you can still go to the record store, and I encourage people to do that, but yeah, it’s just not the same.

Definitely not the same. Now, the anniversary party you guys have got coming up sounds super great; what’s going to be the format for that?

Oh, it’s going to be great. It’s going to be sort of a variety show-format; Julie Klausner is going to be our hostess, so she’ll come out and probably do a song, tell some jokes, and they’ll be interspersed with other acts like Har Mar Superstar. We’re also having our first-ever Golden Bra Awards ceremony, where we’ll give away some statuettes to our favorite women, one of them being Gloria Steinem, which is kind of amazing that she even agreed! So it’s going to be a lot of short skits, and a bunch of comedians are coming.

I know, I’m super excited for the comedy lineup; the Broad City girls are super funny!

Yeah, they’re great! I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and hopefully a lot of people come.

Seriously, get tickets. In the meantime, follow BUST on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates, or just grab yourself a subscription RIGHT HERE! See you tomorrow!