In March 1988, Bold magazine, founded by Jane Pratt, then 24, for teenage girls “who felt weird but could still pass for normal in the high school cafeteria” and “didn’t want to reject mainstream culture outright, but also didn’t want to I wanted to fully embrace it,” debuted on newsstands. In the 35 years since, the not-so-gloss magazine has laid the foundation for millennial/Gen Z feminist publications like teen fashion, Rookie, Bitch, Bust, Bustle, jezebel, hello gigglesand Pratt’s subsequent publications, Jane and XOJaneand has inspired the carefully curated Tumblr account “Sassy Magazine LIVES” and the book How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Best Teen Magazine of All Time.
The groundbreaking magazine actually changed many The lives of the Gen X girls, including future Eagles of Death Metal/Palaye Royale bassist and fashion designer Jennie Vee, who to this day can still boast winning Boldof the “Biggest Cure Fan” contest, thanks to his figurative bloody mentality, and a literal Blood oath.
Growing up on a farm 30 minutes from the “dreary and desolate” mining town of 80,000 of Sudbury in Ontario, Canada, Vee recalls: “Bold It was a magazine that spoke to me because Seventeen No. It was on the cusp of the alternative wave that was upon us, and I felt like it was written by your cool older friends. He was definitely not condescending. Apparently, it was a bit ‘controversial’ at times. It was great. It was different. It sure wasn’t your typical teen magazine.”
Throughout its eight years of operation, Bold introduced cover stars like grunge power couple Courtney Love and (a redhead) Kurt Cobain and ’90s it-girl Juliana Hatfield to Midwest; coined the term “Cute Band Alert,” with that unisex monthly honor going to college rock heroes like Sloan, Luscious Jackson, Guided by Voices, Lemonheads, Ween, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Bikini Kill, and Bratmobile; inspired a recurring sketch by Phil Hartman in Saturday night live; he published an advice column “Dear Boy” with guest writers including Iggy Pop, Billy Corgan, Mike D. of the Beastie Boys and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth; and even spawned an in-house indie band of Bold staff members, Chia Pet, best known for the feminist anthem “Hey Baby” and a deadpan version of the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” for a Planned Parenthood benefit album.
In the mid to late ’80s, Vee’s only connection to alternative youth culture, formerly Bold came, it was MTV, thanks to his parents equipping their house with a satellite dish. Even at 10, the self-described “awkward little girl” who “felt out of place everywhere she went” was drawn to the “Close to Me” music video by her own cute band alert, The Cure. Vee says, “I’m not the ambassador for Sudbury. … I think it’s just a gloomy, gray place where most people don’t go, and I might feel that. From a very young age, I had the feeling of wanting to get out and needing to escape. So The Cure became my escape. … They gave me hope in this town where I felt isolated. I could relate, somehow, as a girl, with [frontman] Robert Smith lyrics.
“The music was all For me, like a fantasy world. I decorated my room with all the Cure posters. I painted it purple. I hung a chandelier. That was how I was able to express myself, how I found my own sense of creativity and expression. She gave me something to do. It was more than just listening to music. It became my world,” Vee continues. “And then I found a Cure fan club called Other Voices that was based in Norman, Oklahoma. I had pen pals, and that was my social network. We’d trade tapes and send each other these amazing packages, decorated. We photocopied photos from magazines and painted them with watercolours. It was truly an epic type of pre-Internet social network. He saved me, 100%, when I felt like I had nothing and was nowhere. And also, The Cure’s music inspired me to play music myself. If I didn’t have that, I can’t even imagine who I would be now.”
It was a few years after her awakening in “Close to Me” that Vee, now 14, was poring over Bold in her gothic purple bedroom in the fall of 1990, she discovered a fantastic way to impress her fellow Other Voices members. “I was an early fan of the magazine and I was flipping through, and there was a full page ad in Bold which read: ‘Mix it up with The Cure! Show that you’re the world’s biggest Cure fan!’” recalls Vee, whose favorite band was about to release the Mixed remix compilation. “So, right there I knew, it wasn’t a random draw. He would say: ‘Send us something to this address proof you are the biggest fan of Cure. Well I play to win… and I knew this was something he could win. And I was certain to win it
“I was like, ‘I’ve got this,’ and my teenage brain is freaking out; it’s completely taking over my life,” Vee continues with a giggle. “I had some time here to work on this, because there was a six-week deadline, so I used every moment. I found out with FedEx how long it would take to ship New York to their offices, and I worked all the way to that deadline.”
Vee says that he “thought I was a bit of a poet”, so he “decided to write 365 poems dedicated to The Cure”. He was probably around a hundred years old already, so furiously, at school and after school, at any given time, he was writing poetry, usually in response to a song. He would listen to a song and then, like a stream of consciousness, he would write the poem and put it in a black Duo-Tang folder that he would decorate with red nail polish. It was quite an affair.”
Vee then adds, a little sheepishly, “And I wasn’t going to bring this up, I was going to save it for what, I’m not sure, but I also signed, for the Bold contest, each poem with my own blood.”
Like that wasn’t enough to prove to Pratt’s staff that she was in fact the biggest Cure fan among BoldVee’s readers “decided that I needed to build a dollhouse. Yeah, a Cure dollhouse. I painted each room different. They were three floors. I tiled the floors with small black and white tiles. I made dolls. I made a Robert Smith doll in a button-down shirt like his. I remembered reading that Robert Smith liked Christmas and Christmas lights and decorations, so everything had a Christmas theme; Since December was the deadline, I made it with a Christmas theme. She even had little miniature Christmas trees with little black spider decorations and Robert Smith ornaments.
“And then, that was my input. I put the poetry book in the dollhouse, packed this thing, about three feet tall, in a box, and FedExed it. I spent like $200 shipping this thing; I had two jobs at the time. I sent it to New York. And I won.”
It was a few months later that an official letter “with the Bold the return address and the small logo on the envelope” arrived in the mail from Sudbury; Vee immediately “opened it up” and saw the name of some of her Cure pen pals in the magazine’s ranking of the top 10 Cure fans. “They were in second place, third place… but my the name was at the top. I freaked out,” Vee says.
Along with bragging rights as holder of the title of “Biggest Cure Fanatic” (“because I did get into some discussions with other fans about that at the time!”), Vee says “the most exciting part of the Bold The prize was an autographed print of Robert Smith, a self-portrait that Robert had painted of himself. On her Instagram account, Vee recently posted a faded photo of herself proudly holding that award, but sadly she says “no photographic evidence exists” of the actual dollhouse from this pre-iPhone, pre-social media era. Bold he didn’t even post pictures of the dollhouse, and he didn’t send them back to Vee either. Even now, she still has no idea where that dollhouse is or what happened to it. “You’ll have to take my word for it,” she laughs.
Vee admits to being “a little disappointed” that the Bold The “mystery prize” of the contest was just the portrait plus “the entire Cure discography, which I already had several times, and it was in long CD boxes, if anyone remembers them.” The small-town girl had been dreaming of winning “a trip to London” to “go to Fiction Records and spend the day there.” …I thought she was going to go on an amazing world trip!” But Vee, who now resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Stray Cats’ Slim Jim Phantom, wouldn’t be staying in Sudbury for long.
Just a few years after the Bold contest — in the year Vee’s father, who was “mostly disgusted” but “accepting in a lot of ways” of her bloody Cure fandom, passed away, Vee dropped out of high school and “went with my bass” to the Cure’s home country of England, where he would live for the next five years. Upon returning to the United States, he would even play bass for the aforementioned Bold cover of the solo band of the beloved Courtney Love. And Vee can partially credit her. Bold Triumph for motivating her to get ahead on her own.
“You have to create your own opportunities in the world,” Vee says, “and make the best of everything.”
This interview is taken from Jennie Vee’s appearances on the totally 80s podcast and the SiriusXM show “Volume West.” Full audio of that latest conversation is available on the SiriusXM app.
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