Thursday, August 02, 2007

Musings of an Editorial Assistant

You can say all you want about Pulp Magazine, but you can't deny that the magazine has produced some of the most daring, most-cutting edge photography--at least by the country's standards (which is to say we're conservative and the Catholic church wields a good deal of influence). That's not to say all our covers or features are jaw-dropping, and in fact some have turned out less than expected, but there's a lot of gems in its almost-eight year history.

A lot of it can be attributed to our publisher, Vernon Go. He's the guy who comes up with the concepts, he's the guy who, at the end of the day, says we'll publish this. Since I mentioned Quentin Tarantino two blog entries ago, Vernon Go is like the Quentin Tarantino of magazine photography. Then of course there's our various pool of talented photographers. Obviously, there's no photo without them.

The unsung heroes however are the editorial assistants. They're the people who makes the shoot possible. I mean while Vernon might come up with the concept, it's the editorial assistants who make sure it's executed properly. Here's an extreme--but true--example. I wish I could say I was the editorial assistant at the time but I wasn't, or rather I wasn't organizing photo shoots back then. I was just an intern and quite frankly, scared to be in charge of handling photo shoots.

It was 2001 and Vernon wanted to shoot legendary Filipino rock star Pepe Smith. Of course as any Pulp fan would know, we've done a couple of Pepe Smith photos, even back then when Pulp was barely two years old. So Vernon comes up with this concept to dress him up as a bride. "And then let's title the feature 'Brides from Hell' and we'll throw in a couple of transvestites into the mix." Dressing up Pepe Smith as a bride is a crazy idea. Dressing up several transvestite brides along with Pepe Smith to give the photo additional texture is the idea that makes you wonder if your boss is smoking crack (but the thing is, you know he isn't; Drunk, perhaps. On crack, no.). And the thing with transvestite brides is that once you see the actual picture, it's not obvious what trick Pulp is playing on you. Transvestites covered in a wedding dressed aren't readily apparent that they're transvestites, but it makes the reader go "something's off here but I can't pinpoint it exactly", at least until you get to the more masculine looking ones.

At the time, I was thinking: where are you going to get half a dozen transvestites, much less half dozen transvestites who are willing to be dressed up as brides, pose for the camera, and not get paid much for it. And then I'm thinking thankfully, it's not my problem.

So then editorial assistant Denise marshals the other intern to help her look for transvestites. It went along the lines of wandering the streets of Cubao to look for transvestites. And I don't know how but they managed to get a couple of 'em. One of the female interns was even complaining "crap, that transvestite is not only prettier than me but he has bigger boobs than I do!"

Just so you know, that's how crazy work can be. So to be a Pulp editorial assistant, you need to be street savvy. Which unfortunately I am not.

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