As the Editorial Director of Paper, New York City’s almanac of downtown cool, Mickey Boardman has license to be jaded, snobbish and downright frosty. It’s his jovial charm however that might just be his biggest asset. That, and his collection of sparkly necklaces and vegan handbags. We sat down with the Boardman to catch up on his career ambitions, the future of fashion and his not-so-secret fantasy to be rescued by royalty.
20 years at Paper—and Editorial Director for 10 —tell us, how did you claw your way to the top?
As a kid I was super precocious. I was the smartest kid in the school but really the only thing I cared about was being the first one done with the assignments. I remember once in first grade Kathleen Dodson finished her math assignment before I did and I was outraged. The only time I really ever thought about a career was when I was about 6 and I said I wanted to be a doctor, lawyer or Good Humor Ice Cream Man. I remember that all the kids got so excited when the Good Humor ice cream truck would roll through the neighbourhood. I thought this guy must be rich because he creates such a frenzy. Really though I don’t remember my parents ever trying to push me to be any specific career. It was just obvious that no matter what we had to go to college. Since I had no career in mind I visualized my future as a certain kind of lifestyle. Lots of international travel, working with interesting people, creativity, sparkly accessories. I never thought of if I do xyz and I’ll move up the ladder.
I just stumbled onto working at Paper. After moving to NYC I was obsessed with Paper and a friend, Wendy Gabriel, worked there and suggested I come for an interview to be an intern. I was so nervous when I went in because though I’m a big culture vulture and read every issue cover to cover I wasn’t exactly a hipster. Maggie McCormick ran the office and hired the interns and I remember her firing questions at me like What’s the last club you went out to? Who’s the coolest band in NYC? I guess I did okay because I got hired. At school I was doing projects like the Supremes Go to Shanghai in all metallics or Jackie Ho! my Jackie Onassis hip hop collection inspired by the band Kriss-Kross. I would present them and people would be stupefied. They wanted you to be doing Michael Kors knock-offs and I was doing this crazy shit. Meanwhile at Paper they loved my crazy outfits and thought I was great. I learned then that we all really need to be encouraged and appreciated if we’re going to blossom.
So I got kicked out at Parsons and about a week later Maggie the office manager quit and they asked me to answer the phones till they figured out what to do. That was 20 years ago.
Also they asked me to interview Rupert Everett who had written a novel, Hello Darling, Are You Working? Well I was in love with Rupert Everett but had no experience as a writer. I skipped my studio class at Parsons and met Rupert at the Peninsula Hotel. He was in shorts and a mesh tank top. We hung out next to the pool and talked about jock straps and other crazy stuff. After I went back to school I thought, “I’m slaving at this school where they think I’m a freak and I could be hanging out in luxury hotels with movie stars in mesh tank tops talking about jock straps.” The choice was obvious.
Meanwhile I’m now a judge for senior projects at Parsons and this year helped choose the Designer of the Year. So it’s all good. I loved being the receptionist. I miss it sometimes. Yes it’s a pain in the ass but really you’re right at the heart of the action and that’s what I like. I ran a very tight ship when I held down the front desk.
Besides getting recognized at parties and shill for advertisers on Taxi TV, what does an Editorial Director actually do?
I’m very social so a lot of what I do is building relationships with people: publicists, photographers, advertisers, adult-film stars. The biggest editorial thing I do is to book and organize the cover for each issue. I’m also the photo editor so I assign photographers for all the shoots and also work with our co-founder Kim Hastreiter to organize fashion stories. We’ve been working a lot with Autumn de Wilde and Emily Shur from LA. They’re amazing. Andy Spade just shot a story for us. His first time shooting a commercial job. He’s a genius.
Our fantasy is Tim Walker. We love what he does. We’re also giant Richard Burbridge fans. He’s shot a few times for us and it was a thrill. Terry Richardson shot for us way back in the day. He used to do little postage stamp sized musician portraits in the mid 90s. Would love to have him shoot with us again.
Of course I also do my monthly fashion advice column Ask Mr Mickey. I don’t write as much as I once did. I must say I’m a bit lazy about it. And being an editor I’m just as happy to have someone else do it. But over the years I’ve interviewed some fun people like Boy George, Penelope Cruz, Milla Jovovich, Jane Fonda, Mary Wison of the Supremes and the Chippendales.
How and why did you become a vegetarian? Best veggie treat in New York City?
I went to college and literally didn’t know how to do anything for myself food wise. I went to McDonald’s for every meal- sort of like the movie Supersize Me. Well I developed an ulcer and threw up all the time but I’m such an addict and a creature of habit that I kept going to McDonald’s. A person with sense would say ‘maybe I need some nutrition and shouldn’t eat a quarter pounder, fries and a coke for every meal.’ Anyway to stop eating at McDonald’s I decided to give up meat. That was 25 years ago. The longer I did it the more I realized I love animals and like to have a no-kill policy which is why I wear no leather or other animal products. I won’t kill an insect unless it’s a mosquito that’s biting me. I just think there’s no reason to kill other creatures. I love Gobo on Sixth Avenue. So many good vegetarian treats there. Also it’s crazy but I love the Soy Burger Dinner at Dojo. It’s so inexpensive it’s insane and it’s yummy.
What magazines are you obsessed with?
Well the only magazine I subscribe to is the Economist. I adore international news! I’m also obsessed with Industrie Magazine. It feels luxurious. Great photos, long stories with interesting people. Plus I’m obsessed with Elizabeth and Alexia who do the magazine. Point de Vue and Hola are always magic for me. Really I love 10 pages on the wedding of Prince George Friederich of Prussia. That’s what gets my juices flowing. I’m not so interested in big stars but I’m interested in having European aristocrats or the children of business dynasties showcased like big stars. Hola and Point de Vue excel at weddings and funerals and really those are the high points of life.
As for fashion I love Italian Vogue and i-D. Italian Vogue is freaky and clowny in a chic way and i-D always has youth and energy and coolness.
Your Twitter followers know it’s all about obscure royalty and burgeoning porn stars for you. Who do you have your eye on now?
There are a group of princes and princesses of Liechtenstein who are very very interesting to me right now. Also the von Isenburg sisters who have all married very well in old school ways. Although I’m super left-wing and modern I also like things old-school.
As for adult film stars I’ve lately had my eye on John Evans and Leo Domenico. But of course finding new favourites doesn’t mean I’m not still interested in my old favourites!
If you could cast royalty in an epic porn film, who would you cast and what would the plot be?
Oh I don’t really like to mix the two!!! If I was casting an epic royal romance it would be Prince Kyril of Bulgaria and me! He would sweep me off my feet and take me on horseback to his palace outside Varna. I love the Balkans. He’s one of the hottest royals ever.
It’s not all fun and games, tell us about your charitable work. When Mickey has a heart of a gold he …
You hear about fundraisers that earn millions of dollars for causes and it all seems so out of reach. My friend Laura Wills owns the vintage store Screaming Mimi’s in NYC and I was getting rid of garbage bags full of clothes and asked her if she wanted them. She suggested we do a sidewalk sale together and give the proceeds to my favourite charity. It turned out that a friend of mine, Michael Daube, had started a charity called Citta about 20 years ago after finding a drawing in the garbage that turned out to be a David Hockney portrait of Ossie Clark. He sold it for $17,000 and took the money to Mother Teresa. He asked her what to do with the money and she said to build a hospital in Orissa. And he did. Since then he’s built about 12 other clinics, schools and women’s centers in India and Nepal. I started doing cocktail fundraisers and clothing sales for him and we’ve raised about $75,000 over the past few years. I love shopping and hosting parties so this is an easy way to use my strengths to make money for causes I care about. It makes me feel good do something positive.
Issue 5 ESCAPE Curated By AKMAL SHAUKAT