Always be darling

The unsung Paper Giants, the women and men who launched Cosmopolitan in Australia, gathered for its wake last weekend.

Cosmo’s December issue will be its last – Bauer Media has decreed the title is no longer viable. It has joined CLEO on the scrap heap of the digital age.

There’s no Asher Keddie-style mini-series about Cosmopolitan, which launched in 1973 with Sylvia Rayner as editor, Pat Ingram as deputy editor and Craig Ingram as art director (all pictured above – such an amazing photo).

But there should be.

As Pat noted to Mumbrella: “The magazine broke through boundaries, was not afraid to talk about the issues that affected them from career opportunity to sexuality, to making the best life for yourself. While Cosmo was sometimes criticised for its blatant appreciation of having a man in your life, it was essentially very feminist in its outlook in that it encouraged women to build careers, and empowered women to take stands on issues… You could think and wear lipstick at the same time!”

Pat and Craig – who later married – were there to raise a glass to the Cosmonauts at Double Bay’s Golden Sheaf Hotel on Saturday.

Pat was editor from 1988 to 1996, then became its editorial director and finally its publishing director. She wielded great influence at a time when that power wasn’t regularly bestowed upon women.

And she used it well.

I was just 24 when she hired me and spent most of my career unaware that a glass ceiling existed – she made me think anything was possible.

In an article celebrating Cosmopolitan’s 40th birthday, Pat revealed the best career advice was ever given was: “Always surround yourself with the best talent you can find (John Alexander) and always be darling (Helen Gurley Brown).”

Without consciously realising, I’ve applied that advice to my own career. I’ve never been threatened by talent and I always tried to be both a good editor and a good person.

Helen Gurley Brown created the modern version of Cosmo in the 60s. She aimed at modern single women and was unafraid to tackle then-taboo topics like sex. And in 1973 it arrived triumphantly Down Under.

Young women no longer need sex tips from magazines. The internet is their treasure trove.

Pat told Mumbrella: “I was lucky that I edited in what can quite reasonably now be called the halcyon days of magazine publishing. Monthly circulation of up to 400,000 was pretty heady stuff, but I loved the innovation that was made possible by the commitment of the parent companies, ACP and Hearst, to the brand.”

I was lucky to be there for the heady years too. Pat hired me as a sub-editor in 1992 and I stayed for almost nine years – four of them under Pat’s editorship – moving through the ranks to eventually become Deputy Editor.

Circulation hit 400,000 soon after I arrived and Hearst flew the entire staff to Hayman Island for the weekend to celebrate. I’m still in touch with many of the women who went on that giddy trip with me.

Pat and I worked together for almost 20 years. I joined the magazine during the supermodel cover era, which she loved, but she listened when I told her Hollywood stars were the new Cindys and Claudias.

She approved my trips to Los Angeles to interview everyone from Salma Hayek to Shannen Doherty, Portia Di Rossi, Christina Applegate and Alyssa Milano.

When I moved to Singapore to edit Cleo magazine, she remained my champion, backing my appointment as editorial director of the local edition of Harper’s Bazaar.

The morning after its launch, she took me to breakfast and asked me to return to Australia to edit Woman’s Day. She knew my celebrity newsense would serve her well. And it did. We rode the Princess Mary wave, with circulation peaking at around 560,000 for the royal wedding.

I helmed Woman’s Day for six years. My weekly meetings with Pat were never dull – often a manicurist would sit between us, shaping her nails as we discussed cover options.

When I left Woman’s Day, I became Pat’s emergency handywoman, stepping into the breech on magazines ranging from NW to New Woman and the kids’ titles. When I moved to New York and she let me to work remotely on Everyday Food and the Disney titles.

Within weeks of my return, she asked me to become Editorial Director of Woman’s Day.

The company wasn’t quite the same when she left. The magic was gone and, less than two years later, so was I.

Pat is still an inspiration to me – she’s currently editorial director of magazines at Fairfax Media. We’ve kept in touch over the years, but life’s dramas have interrupted our friendship of late.

We were thrilled to see each other again at the Sheaf and have promised to catch up again soon.

I owe so much to Pat. Her belief in me and my ability was incredibly empowering.

As a teenager, I dreamed about editing Dolly magazine. I was so painfully shy that my parents tried to talk me out of a career in journalism.

But Pat saw a spark in me and nurtured it until I was ready to run the second biggest selling magazine in the country at a time when it was making more than $40 million a year in advertising dollars.

By the age of 35 I’d achieved every career milestone I’d ever dreamed about and more.

As Pat told Mumbrella, those were the halcyon days of magazine publishing. I feel so privileged to have been part of that magic and I’m sad to see it end.

(That’s Pat on the left at the wake, with my dear friends Cassandra and Annette on the right.)

As I left the wake and drove through the Harbour Tunnel, I shed a tear for those wonderful years and the amazing people who were part of them.

I felt sad to leave so soon but, as I emerged into the sunlight and raced to DD and The Warrior Christmas Party, I knew there was no going back.

Thank you Pat. It was the best of times and I feel very proud to have spent those years by your side.

PS Here’s a pic of Cass, myself and Josanne in the halycon days …

And recreated at the wake … about 25 years later …

Song of the day: Sherbert “Magazine Madonna”

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2 thoughts on “Always be darling

  1. All things change. If you interviewed Alyssa Milano now I’d actually read it. She is a very inspirational activist and member of the US Resistance.

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