July 1998
s m u g
back issues
by Josh Allen


Come on, Vogue

[partial transcript of phone interview with actress Neve Campbell, re: Vogue magazine]

SMUG: ...so then what? You threw the jar of vaseline back in his face?

Neve Campbell: Something like that.

S: Huh. Did you call the cops?

NC: You think the cops are gonna touch Daniel [expletive] Day-Lewis? He [expletive] runs this town.

S: True, true. You don't mess with The Foot.

NC: You bring this up every single time.

S: Lemme ask you something else. You read Vogue?

NC: Word up.

S: Do you just flip through it at top speed? Like flip-flip-flip-flip? Like barely glancing at the pages?

NC: Oh yeah. You don't want to waste too much time with it.

S: Would you perhaps use the word "skim"?

NC: No way. Faster.

S: Now, see, yeah, anytime I see a woman reading Vogue, she's just tearing through it, like she's looking for something in a phone book. It's not like when I read Teen People or something and just absorb every single word, letting it all wash over me, filling my heart with this bright white light.

NC: Look, chum, Vogue is whole 'nother kettle of wax. It's designed to be scanned. It's like a flip-book. I just see what catches my eye, check out the new outfits, the color schemes. Something jolting that I could use, that says: "Hey there." You know? "Yikes."

S: I can dig that particular scene, but some Vogue-readers look all annoyed when they're flipping through it, like: "Oh please."

NC: Women tend to have a complex relationship with Vogue. The [expletive] that I run with, anyway.

S: [sound of chewing] Do tell.

NC: Well, Vogue tends to avoid the quizzes and advice columns and stuff like "Lose the hips or lose your man" like in Cosmo, but still, here's a magazine that's full of serious babes, like impossible hardcore babes, and it's like: "Here's another bikini you'll never be able to wear."

S: "Here's another top from Milan you can't afford."

NC: Bingo. It's like in that song "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath, except Iron Man is crushing your self-esteem.

S: C'mon, Neve. I don't see a big rich Hollywood starlet like you crying herself to sleep, counting bulimic sheep.

NC: [8-second pause] Let's just say that my teeth are a little larger than the national average.

S: So then why read Vogue all? If it pummels you with such trauma...

NC: For me, it's like it's pushing me to do better. It shocks me into action. And it's instructive. Some of the articles are pretty interesting--

S: Neve, it's me you're talking to. I sat down last night and read Vogue cover to cover and my fingers still smell like Organza by Givenchy. The articles are there to provide a brief interruption from the ads. They're like padding to give the thing extra heft, so you're like: "Mother of god, look at all the content I get for three bucks!"

NC: I heard that a man was killed with one blow from the January issue.

S: If you could see my face you'd note a complete lack of surprise. Do you want to hear my ad-to-content ratio?

NC: You make me so horny.

S: There's a grand total of --this is the Elizabeth Hurley issue, mind you, not the Sandra Bullock one-- a grand total of 332 pages. Now, check yourself, be seated and assume a comfortable position because out of those 332 pages, 199 are ads.

NC: Honey, that's the whole point of Vogue.

S: Oh wait, 200. I forgot the Microsoft ad on the back that says: "You're smarter when you think."

NC: Hence the ultra-skim. It's just an onslaught of images. No one's dying to read the book reviews or anything.

S: Yeah, that's what's funny. Vogue understands that with a glorious and white-hot clarity. They know that no one gives two [expletive] about their regular articles, their mainstream, general-public articles. So they get Lolo the Trained Monkey in there to handle those. But when you get into the beauty section, all of a sudden you're in this high-tech, astrophysics-type realm. Check it out, here's how their dumb interview with Julia Louis-Dreyfus ends--

NC: Who's that?

S: Elaine. The article closes with thiS: "If she were your girlfriend, you'd always come away from lunch laughing. You'd say 'That Julia! Oh, she made me laugh!'" OK? That sort of level.

NC: Skirting the fine, razor-sharp line between sub-moronic and rampantly idiotic, as Jada sometimes says.

S: Total. So then we turn to the piece on self-tanning products and get this: "New formulations incorporate AHAs (to prep the skin before color develops), vitamins, and hydrating botanicals. The exotic scents (ylang-ylang, neroli) added to some, however, do little to mask the 'self tanning odor' emitted when dihydroxyacetone reacts with skin."

NC: I always thought ylang-ylang was worthless.

S: What the hell is ylang-ylang? And they don't even bother to define AHAs, they just assume that everyone'll know.

NC: Duh, Josh, seriously.

S: It's like all the makeup ads where at the bottom it sayS: "Melanie is wearing such-and-such" and "Christie is wearing blah-blah." It's like this secret society.

NC: You didn't belong there. Your hair should've turned white when you opened it up, like something out of The Craft.

S: But I'll have to admit, I got pretty turned on by being a spy in the house of style.

NC: Oh god, here we go.

S: Hear me out. I mean, look, the thing's full of half-naked chicks. Sometimes all-naked. They have this like 10-page bikini tutorial where all the models are being sprayed with water. The viscous, oozing water. Drenched. Soaked. And they're orgasmic with aquatic delight.

NC: [possible sound of flossing] Uh-huh.

S: There's also this thing, maybe it's the new trend or something, but all of the women had their legs spread. There wasn't a single demure, crossed-leg shot.

NC: Yeah, that's pretty mid-'98. No cleft.

S: Really? God I mean the whole thing was so primal and naughty and I got a little embarrassed in that sort of oh-I-shouldn't-be-enjoying-this kind of way, you know, like oh-well-it-looks-like-the-objectification-of-women-is-once-again-getting-me-hot type thing, but then I remembered that I wasn't the target audience. This was nude, wet women for women.

NC: So you could enjoy it on a whole new level of non-guilt.

S: It was quite refreshing. The exploitation had a novel, exhilarating quality about it.

NC: Maybe that's why I feel compelled to read it, too. I can get my exploitation and low self-esteem without having it filtered through a male perspective.

S: Ah, well, this segues nicely into my question about Wild Things.

NC: [static, garbled] Looks like we're losing the connection here.

S: Neve, you pull this every time.

NC: [dial tone]




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