Spy (magazine)

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Editor Kurt Anderson
Categories Humor
Year founded 1986
Final issue 1998
Country United States
Based in New York City
Language English

Spy was a satirical monthly magazine that ran from 1986 to 1998.[1] The magazine was based in New York City.[2]


Founded by Kurt Andersen and E. Graydon Carter, who served as its first editors, and Thomas L. Phillips, Jr., its first publisher. After one folding and a rebirth, it ceased publication in 1998. It specialized in intelligent, thoroughly researched, irreverent pieces targeting the American media, entertainment industries and making fun of high society.[3] Many issues often featured brief photographs of nudity relevant to a story. Some of its features attempted to present the darker side of celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Steven Seagal,[4] Martha Stewart, and especially, the real-estate tycoon Donald Trump and his then-wife Ivana Trump. Pejorative epithets of celebrities, e.g., "Abe 'I'm Writing As Bad As I Can' Rosenthal", "the short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump"[5] and "former fat girl Dianne Brill" became a Spy trademark.

Publication history[edit]

For a humorous magazine, Spy often was aggressive about straight feature reporting. In the summer of 1992, it ran the only serious investigative story on President George H.W. Bush's extramarital affairs with Jennifer Fitzgerald and other women.[6] The following year, Spy ran an article entitled "Clinton's First 100 Lies", detailing what it described as the new president's pattern of duplicitous behavior.[7]


Introduced in the May 1987 issue, Private Lives of Public Enemies (renamed Private Lives of Public Figures, then simply Private Lives in 1989) presented fictional representations of public personalities in unflattering situations.

Separated at Birth, first presented in a feature article in December 1987, would juxtapose two photos, usually one of a public personality with that of another public personality, popular character, etc. The comparison, and sometimes the photos themselves, were comical.


In October 2006, Miramax Books published Spy: The Funny Years (ISBN 1-4013-5239-1), a greatest-hits anthology and history of the magazine created and compiled by Carter, Andersen, and one of their original editors, George Kalogerakis.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Spy Magazine (1986-1998) Now Online". Open Culture. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  2. ^ Will Hines (27 April 2011). "Diving Into the Archives of Spy, The Funniest Magazine Ever". Split Sider. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  3. ^ Polly Vernon (24 October 2009). "Graydon Carter: Literati? Glitterati? I'd rather have a quiet night in with the missus…". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2015. 
  4. ^ John Connolly (18 April 2010). "Steven Seagal Under Siege". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Datebook". Spy Magazine (Spy Publishing Partners L.P.) (February 1988): 20. ISSN 0890-1759. 
  6. ^ "Spy". Google Books. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "Spy". Google Books. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 

External links[edit]