Cory Reynolds knows all the most famous people you've never heard of - it's her job. As the managing editor of the New York City-based index magazine, Reynolds deals with cutting-edge film makers, artists, designers, writers, architects, actors, and cult figures whose obscurity often equals their creativity.
Reynolds recently visited Drew's journalism class for a chance to share her knowledge about the publishing industry as well as tips on life after college. She looks the way you might expect index's subjects to - intelligent, creative, and dressed sharply. Well-manicured, and with a short brown bob of hair, she looks comfortable - slightly cutting-edge yet slightly conservative. The bold green and brown combinations of her outfit and the modern cut of her suit suggest a friendly melding of business and pleasure. This also happens to be a good description of her life.
"I'm probably out six nights a week doing things that would seem like parties if I told you about them, but are really work-related," Reynolds said. "I live a very New York life." Reynolds became the managing editor of index in 1996. Her job necessitates a lot of socializing, she explained, but it also involves a lot more. She answers phones, arranges interviews and photography sessions, oversees most parts of production, and goes to a lot of meetings. "I'm like the CIA of our little world," she said.
Reynolds adds, though, that with index's small staff, "We all do everything." Reynolds laughs when she describes herself and the staff. "They're eccentric, but not because they're trying to be eccentric. They just can't help it."
"Index has a lot in common with Andy Warhol's original Interview magazine," she said, mentioning the magazine's tabloid feel, focus on interviews, and avant-garde attitude. She says that index is somewhere between a high-end fanzine and a low-end magazine. She adds that it is definitely not mainstream, and that when the magazine was starting out, they "did everything wrong." Index had no Public Relations Department, unusual covers, and was devoid of magazine trademarks such as a big nameplate and teasers on the cover. The magazine was publicized mainly through word-of-mouth, without a big campaign. Nevertheless, Reynolds enjoyed the magazine's attitude of "do-it-yourself, try-it-out, make mistakes." Index's honest feel has won support from critics, and it was named one of the 10 best magazines of 1996 by the Library Journal. Interviewees have included filmmaker John Waters, humorist Fran Liebowitz, Dallas Cowboy Larry Brown, and human rights activist Bianca Jagger, whom Reynolds met and describes jokingly as a "total diva."
Index is the brainchild of longtime friends Peter Halley, painter, and gallery and museum show organizer Bob Nickas, who share an interest in contemporary culture, according to Reynolds. The magazine is financed by Halley, with Nickas as its editor. Halley hoped that the bi-monthly, mostly black-and-white magazine would fill the void left by the demise of Interview. Index was founded in February, 1996, and Reynolds came on in its second issue.
Halley hired Reynolds to organize his art exhibits as well. "I don't just run the magazine, I run his studio," she said. Reynolds explained that Halley was popular in the eighties, and has now managed to "get out of the strict gallery system" upon which the majority of the New York art world depends. Reynolds describes her time spent as Studio Director as similar to her index work, due to her "strange desire to stay behind the scenes."
Reynolds spent several years in New York before being hired by Halley. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991, Reynolds knew she wanted to be in the city, but little else. "I was in the complete dilemma of someone who graduated with an English degree," she joked. She tried out for popular magazines such as Vogue, but says that all they were interested in was typing speed. After several jobs, including waitressing and teaching gymnastics, Reynolds found her calling at Lacanian Ink, an obscure journal of Lacanian (Poststructuralist) art theory. "I was hungry," she said. "I got out of a depression after graduation and found something I liked." It was through her work on that magazine that Halley discovered her.
Reynolds mentioned her surprise at how flexible life could be after college. She encourages students, "Strike out wherever you can. You still have a lot of time to make up your mind. You don't have to be super-idealistic, but you have an opportunity."
Reynolds plans to stay with index for the immediate future. "My world has now taken on the parameters of index," Reynolds explained. Recently, the magazine's popularity has risen dramatically, with ad sales doubling since the previous issue. The circulation is now 10,000, and Reynolds feels that the magazine is at a turning point. "It's a small group of people doing what we're interested in, and we're finally seeing the fruits of our labors," she said. "It's a really exciting moment."
Reynolds says that it's important to reach out and stretch for something of interest. "I'm at index because it's what I'm interested in. Whatever you're interested in, it's worth the effort to find it. Dare to pursue experimental ideas and events that are out there. Venture out and find things."