Spy (magazine)

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EditorGraydon Carter and Kurt Andersen
Final issue1998
CountryUnited States
Based inNew York City

Spy was a satirical monthly magazine published from 1986 to 1998.[1][2] Based in New York City, the magazine was founded by Kurt Andersen and E. Graydon Carter, who served as its first editors, and Thomas L. Phillips Jr., its first publisher. Spy specialized in irreverent and satirical pieces targeting the American media and entertainment industries and mocking high society.[3][4]


Some of its features attempted to present the darker side of celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, John F. Kennedy Jr., Steven Seagal,[5] Martha Stewart, and especially the real-estate tycoon Donald Trump and his then-wife Ivana Trump.[6] Pejorative epithets of celebrities, such as "Abe 'I'm Writing As Bad As I Can' Rosenthal", "short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump",[7] "churlish dwarf billionaire Laurence Tisch", "antique Republican pen-holder Bob Dole", "dynastic misstep La Toya Jackson", "bum-kissing toady Arthur Gelb", "bosomy dirty-book writer Shirley Lord", and "former fat girl Dianne Brill" became a Spy trademark. In the summer of 1992, the publication ran a story on President George H. W. Bush's alleged extramarital affairs.[8] The following year, it ran an article entitled "Clinton's First 100 Lies", detailing what it described as the new president's pattern of duplicitous behavior.[9]

In March 1989, Spy published "The Pickup Artist's Guide to Picking Up Women: A Case-by-Case Look at Movie Director James Toback's Street Technique." It was written by Vincenza Demetz and included accounts from thirteen women—including the author—who accused Toback of sexual misconduct.[10]

The magazine ceased publication in 1998.


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, was a regular section which would present juxtaposed photos of two different personalities exhibiting visual similarity, to comical effect. The first of each pair was typically a public figure or celebrity, and the second was usually another such figure, but sometimes (usually in the last set) a more absurd subject such as a fictional character, animal, or inanimate object. Separated at Birth? became one of the magazine's most popular features and was spun out into a set of paperback books.


In 1990, NBC aired a TV special Spy Magazine Presents How to Be Famous hosted by Jerry Seinfeld and featuring Victoria Jackson and Harry Shearer satirizing American celebrity culture.

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.

In January 2015, after the Charlie Hebdo shooting, Donald Trump made a series of tweets attacking both Spy and Charlie Hebdo, calling Spy a "rag magazine"[11]

In October 2016, Esquire produced a special online version of Spy during the last thirty days of the presidential campaign.[12]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Spy Magazine (1986-1998) Now Online". Open Culture. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  2. ^ Jeremy Glass (24 November 2014). "5 Defunct Magazines that Changed America". Thrillist. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  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. ^ Will Hines (27 April 2011). "Diving Into the Archives of Spy, The Funniest Magazine Ever". Split Sider. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  5. ^ John Connolly (18 April 2010). "Steven Seagal Under Siege". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Decades Later, 'Spy' Magazine Founders Continue To Torment Trump". npr.org. NPR. March 7, 2016. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  7. ^ "Datebook". Spy Magazine. Spy Publishing Partners L.P. (February 1988): 20. ISSN 0890-1759.
  8. ^ "Spy". Spy: The New York Monthly. July–August 1992. ISSN 0890-1759. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  9. ^ "Spy". Spy: The New York Monthly. May 1993. ISSN 0890-1759. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  10. ^ Kelley, Sonaiya. "Read the 1989 Spy magazine story that detailed James Toback's attempts to pick up women". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  11. ^ "Donald Trump's horrifying Charlie Hebdo tweets resurface". 8 February 2017. Archived from the original on 2022-05-24.
  12. ^ "SPY on Esquire".

External links[edit]