I grew up worshiping Jane Pratt. Shocker, right? Her work is practically a rite of passage for any weird aspiring writer. Even though I was too young to get on the Sassy boat, Jane arrived right around my teens as some sort of Holy Bible. Despite being aimed at twentysomething women, it resonated with me — a closeted 14-year-old who felt like he was already a quirky career woman living in the big city — very deeply. I remember reading articles about orgasms and blind dates, and being like, “OMG, I KNOW RIGHT?” when, in fact, I didn’t know. My balls had just dropped and I was still masturbating in secret to a screenshot of Ryan Phillippe’s ass in Cruel Intentions. I had no idea what the hell they were talking about most of the time but it didn’t matter because the voice made sense. I felt like I had found my tribe.
It was shocking that a magazine like Jane even existed, let alone as a women’s magazine. Back then, there weren’t any funny female-centered blogs you could check to get an honest portrayal of your life. If you wanted to read about what it was like to be a girl, your options were Cosmo or making a zine yourself, which many ladies often did.
Re-reading the articles, the tone of Sassy and Jane comes across as very bloggy. The writing was very conversational and the writers themselves became mini-celebrities, which was sort of unheard of in the magazine world. Harvesting the personalities of each individual writer was a novel concept. Now it’s the norm. In many ways, it feels like Jane Pratt made the very first mainstream women’s blog but in magazine form. The blogosphere, in effect, owes a lot to her.
It seems fitting then that she would eventually join the Internet with her own venture, xoJane.com. Jane was only 24-years-old when she started at Sassy. Now, over twenty years later, she’s still relevant and showcasing writing you won’t see anywhere else on the Internet. Like, who talks about doing PCP on the Internet? Oh, Cat Marnell does. And thank god because even if PCP isn’t your thing, she’s one of the only writers who’s willing to talk about her drug use on such a large platform. New York media is overrun with drug abusers and she’s the only one who will blog about it and call EVERYONE out on their BS. It’s refreshing. It’s very Jane Pratt.
Despite what your feelings are on xoJane or Jane Pratt as a person, you have to respect her for sustaining a career in a notoriously fickle industry for 20+ years. Simply put, she knows what the hell she’s doing. You don’t stick around for over two decades just by having breakdowns and breakthroughs. Homegirl knows what’s up.
Anyway, today I went to the xoJane offices to hang out and talk with the staff and, of course, Jane Pratt herself. Like a psycho fan, I brought all these old issues of Sassy that I had bought on Ebay when I was in college. It was definitely a moment. I never imagined that I would one day be meeting the woman who inspired a lot of my writing but here we were being two gossip girls in an office in the Flatiron. It was awesome. I can’t really remember the particulars of our hang out sesh though because right before I came, I drank three shots of espresso and spent the subsequent hour in a haze of caffeine, but I think it was good. It’s always such an adrenaline rush when you meet someone you admire anyway. You only really come to when you leave. Then you realize, “Wow. I just met someone I’ve idolized since I was a young lad!” and everything is happy happy joy joy.