After more than 50 years of iconic covers and great interviews, Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine has announced it will be closing its doors. The influential arts and culture publication is no longer financially viable following financial mismanagement and sexual harassment lawsuits. The magazine, which was founded in 1969, was acquired by Brant Publications in 1989. With its cutting-edge style, Interview Magazine was a natural partner for the music industry. It celebrated all things pop, and that includes music’s outsized influence on culture.
The magazine started with artists interviewing other artists, most significantly the movers and shakers from places like Studio 54, CBGB, and the Mud Club. One way that Interview Magazine stood out fromt the crowd was by working with some of the greatest celebrity photogrpahers of the era, including Herb Ritts, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Beard, and Bruce Weber. Perhaps no artist was more influential thanRichard F. Bernstein, who designed covers for 15 years, starting in 1972. Over more than 100 covers, Berstein made watercolor paintings that stand the test of time.
Madonna covered Interview Magazine in 1986, in cover art painted by Bernstein. The accompanying interview is by Harry Dean Stanton, who caught up with the Blonde Ambitiion singer during a turbulent era of her life, when her popularity made her the most talked-about women in the world and right after she married Sean Penn. She describes how dancing instilled the discipline that allowed her to transform her life.
“That was the first thing – the devotion to that, and realizing that I could go from being unmolded clay, and over time and with a lot of work and with people helping me, I could turn myself into something else. Before I started feeling devoted to dancing, I didn’t really like myself very much. I didn’t think I was beautiful or talented. I spent a lot of time loathing myself, and not feeling like I fit in my school and hating the authority of my parents, like every adolescent does. I really had a lot of self-hatred. When I started having a dream, and working toward that goal, having a sense of discipline, I started to really like myself for the first time.”
Long in the shadow of Beyonce, Solange’s 2016 A Seat at the Table proved that she has an artistic sensibility to be reckoned with. Who better to discuss Solange’s music statement than her big sister? Solange covered the Magazine in 2016 with an interview by Beyonce. In it, Solange explains why she had her father talk on the album, and why he reminded her of Master P.
“One of the things that was really, really deep for me in talking to Dad is his experience of having the community choose you [as one of the first students to integrate his Southern elementary and junior high school]—to do that, to go out and be the warrior and the face of that is just such an incredible amount of pressure. And to evolve from that and still have your sense of independence and still have your stride and your strength, and to dream big enough that you can create something from the ground up bigger than any community, neighborhood, or those four corners … I remember reading or hearing things about Master P that reminded me so much of Dad growing up. And they also have an incredible amount of love and respect for one another.”
Richard Bernstein’s cover shot of Diana Ross is one of the magazine’s most famous. Warhol interviewed Ross personally for the October 1981 cover story. He describes learning all about Ross because his lesbian friends followed her all over the world. Warhol asks her about her figure and her gym routine and Ross reveals that “I belong to a club here in town. I jog and I roller-skate. I dance—that’s the best exercise. I love to dance…we move all the furniture back [at home] and dance on the stage, too. It’s not a choreographed kind of thing, it’s much freer. It keeps you strong.”
David Bowie appeared on the cover of Interview Magazine many times, twice as depicted by Bernstein.
In 1990, he discussed how he became a rock star:
“I had a plan from when I was eight. My father brought home all these American records, 45s with no centers. And he said, “Go on, you can take your pick.” I said, “I’ll just take a few out.” There was this one by Little Richard, and that was it. I was sold. When I heard that, I thought, God, I want to do that. Actually, my ambition at eight or nine years old was to be one of Little Richard’s sax players, and that’s when I got my first saxophone, a Selmer. It was a strange Bakelite material—that creamy plastic with all the gold keys on it. I had to get a job as a butcher’s delivery boy to start paying for it. At no point did I ever doubt I would be as near as anybody could be to England’s Elvis Presley. Even from eight or nine years old, I thought, Well, I’ll be the greatest rock star in England. I just made up my mind.”