It’s tradition for glossy magazines to feature a big number on the cover – you know, 573 Fashion Fixes, 6 ‘Oh. My. God.’ Orgasm Moves, 15 Life-Changing Makeup Buys … So in honour of my 5 years working on Cosmopolitan magazine, I thought I’d share my career highs and lows.
Welcome to Cosmo by Numbers!
14 ½ years …
… that’s how long I worked on the Cosmopolitan brand and the extension titles for (after five years on Cosmo, I went on to edit Cosmopolitan Bride, Hair & Beauty, Pregnancy and Health).
Blimey that’s a long time! I didn’t intend on staying that long… it was meant to be a one night stand! But I was very, very passionate about the brand and delivering readers information that would, hopefully, enhance their lives. I scored a gig as Features Assistant at age 23 (after doing work experience for a week and impressing then Editor, Mia Freedman). I navigated my way through a range of roles over the following five years including News and Entertainment Editor and Features Director. I did leave the nest for, oh, five minutes, for a stint on DOLLY magazine before returning as Editor of Cosmopolitan Bride, Cosmopolitan Pregnancy and Cosmopolitan Hair & Beauty (and later Cosmo Health), which I lived, ate and breathed for the following nine years. I left the company in 2013.
379 ways to …
… reinvent the orgasm, sex and beauty coverlines.
These subjects are core to the Cosmo DNA – a prerequisite sell for every cover. Did I ever go brain-numb from coming up with a million ways to sell the same story? Hell no! In fact, it was my all-time favourite part of the job. Some crackers I will never forget include Blow like a Pro (A how-to guide on blow-drying your hair), Wet! Wet! Wet! (Aussie male swimmers profiled) and Backside Boys (Not quite the Backstreet boys, but butt-naked men – close!). Oh those coverlines meetings were a ripper!
… of my most memorable celebrity interviews.
1. Miranda Kerr had just received her Victoria’s Secret wings when I interviewed her about her beauty and health routine. In all my time, I have never met someone more health and well-being focused than Miranda. There was no chance she’d succumb to a Tim Tam – she was 100% focused on a non-compromising health, food, exercise and organic approach to living. I immediately detoxed after that interview…
2. Shakira. So here’s a confession. A colleague (who shall remain anonymous) and I were a tad tipsy at an intimate media event showcasing Shakira, and said colleague and I decided she’d make a great best friend – we could be the three musketeers! So, slurring our words, we tried relentlessly to get her to come out dancing with us, as you do. She was adamant that she really wanted to come along, but she was on day two of her “cabbage soup diet”. Shame.
3. Beyonce was nowhere near as fame-balls as she is now when I interviewed her in about, oh, 2000. She was sweet and young, said “like, you know” A LOT, so it was difficult to get a full quote from her. It was a steep learning curve for a very green journo.
4. Gwen Stefani was very cool and open, having a laugh and a joke, perhaps at my expense, and extremely generous with her time (given I interrupted her concert rehearsals). Not that my questions were hard core or scoops in any way. But she was very proud of the album she was promoting!
5. Harry Connick Junior crooned me over the phone! No joke. I have no idea what he said in that interview because I was so enchanted by the whole serenade, but I will forever remember that voice singing to me! Magic.
… naked male backpackers.
My early naivety was gold for Cosmo mag. I remember clearly my editor asking me to find and interview random guys about their sex lives, and I thought nothing of it. “Sure thing!” I said while leaving her office, clipboard in one hand and Polaroid camera in the other (back in the old days I’d take photos of interviewees with a Polaroid camera and run those images with their ‘vox pop’ quotes in-mag). I got a few “Are you serious?” responses while accosting random guys on the CBD streets, but I got the quotes required within the hour!
Finding 14 men willing to go naked in the mag was a bit trickier. I spent two weekends driving from one backpacker venue to the next, leaving flyers for willing participants and hoping, preying, they would show up at the photoshoot. Each participant got a token payment, but most, surprisingly, were happy to appear naked in the most famous women’s lifestyle magazine.
… I met Kerry Packer.
The late Kerry Packer was a bit of an enigma in our building. I’d only been employed for a few months when I saw him in the foyer waiting for an elevator. He had a cigarette in-hand, and while the foyer was busy, no one got in the lift with him, except me. I was excited to meet this enigma! My boss – who I’d never seen in real life! I was a tad nervous, and will never forget it, smoke billowing from his ciggie, looking at the sign above the elevator door stating ‘No Smoking: $20 Fine Applies’. He looked at the sign, then looked at me and said, “What are they going to do? Fine me!?” It wasn’t your traditional first meeting with a boss, but I loved his sense of humour!
… it wasn’t all sex, beauty and rock ‘n roll.
I am most proud of the many stories I wrote that went some way to helping young woman. I covered emotional and physical abuse and interviewed countless brave women who were willing to share their experiences if it meant helping others. I worked very closely with Eating Disorder associations to raise awareness and promoted positive body image, and for many years I covered career, cash, relationships and life direction. The most confronting story I ever wrote was about 19-year-old refugee women detained in Villawood Detention Centre. I visited her at the facility twice, which looked like a prison surrounded by barbed wire fences and high security. She’d escaped Kosovo with her husband and had been detained for over a year. She looked just like any of my other friends, with long blonde hair, converse sneakers and a Mooks handbag. She had energy, was bubbly and excited about the future. I didn’t understand how she could be so positive when her family, and her husband’s, had been killed in the war. Not long after that interview she was released and made a special trip to Cosmo HQ, because I was the only person she knew outside those barbed wire fences, and I was totally honoured. She now lives happily with her husband in Adelaide.
… No number could sum up the amount of times I have thanked the universe.
It was an incredible honour to work on Cosmo. The experience it gave me, the people I met, the many life-long friendships I made and the opportunity to speak to Australian women, and hopefully help to make their lives better in some way. I loved every minute of it.