Mickey Boardman, aka Mr. Mickey, is the Editorial Director, and basically the face of Paper Magazine.
The man’s one of the busiest people I’ve ever met – and yet he positively bubbles over with enthusiasm for his job and the people he works with. The first time I met him, in an elevator at Milk Studios at one of the first fashion events I ever went to, he told me I was funny. In Paris last month, he gave me his ticket to John Galliano and introduced me to Kate and Laura Mulleavy. Needless to say, I love him.
So our Life With session turned into more than just a what-do-you-do-all-day interview. We dove into topics like his love for India, his devotion to various charities and the highlights of his sixteen-year career at Paper – the Olsens are involved, so is DVF.
His goal? To host Mr. Gay Bombay, but for now there are photo shoots to plan, web meetings to conduct and a snack run to the local deli wherein lives a fat cat lovingly christened Candy Cats Price.
How’s it going?
It’s good! Welcome to Paper!
This is my desk and all of my art.
Tell me everything.
Well this is Lucas [starting on the right] shot by Nigel Barker – he gave it to me as a present Nigel did. Lucas was in the video for ‘Stars Are Blind’, very cute, like the biggest male model eight years ago or something. And we put him in the Beautiful People issue in Guess jeans and stood him in a swimming pool and he has a teeny but memorable part in School of Rock. Isn’t Jack Black great? Someone thought I was Jack Black on the subway the other day. Lucas is the guy who takes Jack’s place in the band and is super hot with long hair and says, “What up dog” and tries to pick up the chick. And this is not by a retarded person, it’s by Paper‘s first ever receptionist and it’s the first portrait she ever painted and I think she did a pretty good job. This is Isabel by Ruben Toledo from this luncheon and this is me from well, for some reason Barneys did these Mr. Mickey windows and I can’t remember why.
Well maybe it was when Paper had a book? But they did a separate side window just for me and I had to do ten ways to be glamorous. God no wonder I’m not a success when I can’t even remember why Barneys gave me my own windows!
I think it means you’re a grand success when Barneys gives you windows, regardless of why.
And then this is from Creative Growth which is a school that teaches art to mentally handicapped people and this is Eric Rhodes, the porn star.
I have to go on Facebook immediately because Dani Stahl is on there now and invited me to be her friend and she always swore that she’d never be on it.
And here are pictures of me jumping out of the cake when Howard Socol from Barneys retired. That cake was tiny let me tell you. He always had a little crush on me.
Mickey jumps out of Howard Socol’s farewell cake
Maybe that’s why you got your windows.
No! I got my own window before I even knew him, ironically.
I wish I worked in a big office.
Well you can come visit us whenever you want. Let’s go on Facebook together.
Mickey has a million friend requests, some with super sweet messages. Kids from Illinois who idolize his rise to the top, Keegan’s agent, Dani Stahl, Kelly Bensimon, who, by the way, has an amazing secret Facebook name.
At first I was only going to say yes to people I actually knew, people more famous than me or cute boys who would make out with me. But now I say yes to pretty much everyone. Like, I friended Narciso Rodriguez and it took him a week to say yes and I was on pins and needles! I thought he was my friend! Anyway, so if Facebook is high school I want everyone to feel loved.
That’s sweet. Kelly Bensimon, I helped her once when I worked in retail. It was awful.
That show is a shit show.
It’s kind of mind blowing to know that she’s really like that and lets the whole world see. Anyway, let’s talk about a Mr. Mickey day.
Ooh I’ll show you the May issue – my apartment got a make-over.
Oh that’s right! That was happening while we were in Paris, right?
Yep. So I wake up at seven and roll out of my bed which is super high and I don’t know how to use my alarm clock. I got out the booklet and tried a million times but I think I have to go the drug store and get the simplest one. But, I wake up naturally and then I go work out with my trainer at 9, (well today was my first day in like seven months), because I only need like 5 minutes to get ready but I need an hour and a half to read magazines, watch New York One, make my bed.
Ok so after your trainer?
Oh actually, the trainer was yesterday. This morning I went to a breakfast at Opening Ceremony, which was amazing. I had a donut. And then I came into the office and work work work. We had our editorial meeting and we’re doing a cover shoot on Thursday so everything’s crazy.
So what role do you play in putting the issue together?
Well I arrange all the covers. David and Kim have the final word on who’s on the cover but, well, I can make it happen if I want. Don’t tell them I said that! But Katy Perry was my idea. And you know for Beautiful People and the Music Issue you make them perform at the party so it’s someone musical. I mean once we did Charlotte Gainsbourg and she wasn’t really but yes, usually they sing and host.
How do you choose your beautiful people?
Everyone kind of has their list and then we have a meeting. Someone really has to sell the person and then you know we count them all up and make sure every sex, color, gay, straight is represented. How many are cute looks and how many are deep and meaningful to make sure it’s balanced and then for the cover I arrange the stylist, the photographer, the studio…
So you’re really hands on?
Yep. I’m kind of a one man band for photo shoots over here. The visuals are one of my main things and then Kim does most of the editing.
Are you always on set for the shoots?
Usually, for all the bigs ones at least and the covers.
What makes a successful shoot?
Catering! Just kidding – it’s all about the vibe on the set. The thing that’s usually good about us is that we don’t shoot people who are assholes.
That’s a pretty good policy.
So we’re shooting Janelle Monae for our music issue and she’s kind of smaller – so usually people are either excited to be on the cover because it’s one of their firsts or it’s someone like Julianne Moore who totally gets Paper. It’s only hideous if someone’s five hours late and has a horrible attitude, but that almost never happens. Well, Ben Stiller was not fun.
He was on time but he canceled the whole thing and then we re-booked and we could only get this dumpy studio since it was the last minute and he was kind of a dick about that but then he turned out alright in the end. But, like Naomi Campbell was like three hours late and then was just so sweet.
I waited on her once – and she was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
You know, I mean obviously, some people have bad experiences with her, but she was great. Lindsay Lohan was lovely, she was early and we weren’t even ready for her! Poor Lindsay. I blame the mother.
Totally. Ok, so editorial meeting.
We talked about the music issue – we have a female singer so we want to get a male actor. Then we talked about an art collective we want to put in the magazine and then I brought up the Opening Ceremony breakfast and said we should do something on the store they’re opening in Japan.
Do you have an editorial meeting everyday?
Every Tuesday. Wednesday we have a web meeting and Thursday is marketing, we talk about events, like our 25th anniversary is in Septmeber.
Paper and I have the same birthday.
Yeah. Twenty-five, yikes! So, then what happens once everything’s booked for the photo shoot.
Well then I start working with Kim to get a stylist and with the stylist to get the clothes and then I call Miu Miu and I’m like, “Hi! I need this for this.”
A wall of covers
Wow so you even pull the clothes?
Well it depends on who I’m shooting, what it’s for and if I have a relationship with the people. Like today I had lunch with Kate Waters from Marc Jacobs so if we ever can’t get something from Marc I can call her or whatever.
What’d you have for lunch?
A croque monsieur without ham. Not so healthy but I had a salad with it! Marc’s hosting that Costume thing so she was giving me the inside scoop and said that Anna’s been super nice.
So what happens after lunch?
Well you’re here!
And if I wasn’t?
Then I’d be emailing, making the girls go on a snack run. And then we’re going to see Minnie Mortimer’s collection at that hotel. You know she lives in Malibu and has this amazing body and just had a baby named Tuesday. And then I’m seeing the new Jeremy Irons show on Broadway.
So you have at least three appointments/events a day. Being the face of Paper sounds exhausting.
Well now with the way the economy’s been, we’ve had to lay off a few people, so there’s more work to do in the office so I try not to do as much. But if the lady from Marc Jacobs wants lunch, you get lunch.
How long have you worked at Paper?
Almost seventeen years if you include my time as intern. They’re throwing me a Sweet Sixteen soon, sponsored by Le Sportsac because I love Le Sportsac, you’re invited of course. It’l be pink with cupcakes and boys in underwear.
I’m in. Could you ever work anywhere else?
If they dangle the money in front of me. No just kidding. If I ever left it would be to do something totally different, like go work in India – it’d need to be a drastic change or new location. But it’d be so hard to leave New York after being here for twenty years and clawing my way up to the middle.
The middle! Are you kidding?
So what’s this over here?
This is me getting organized. The bottom bin is for my Charity Water. I do it with Charlotte Ronson and Peter Davis through Screaming Mimi’s in Montauk. The bottom right bin is for my mother’s charity for at risk youth, the books will go to the Strand and then the top two bins are TBD.
Is it all stuff that’s been given to you?
Yeah, gift bags etc. And then all of this is gay porn.
We do porn star interviews on the site and, see, I have a gay porn mousepad, so I’m on all of the mailing lists and I can just imagine if I get hit by a bus and my mother has to come to New York to clean out my apartment and finds hundreds of gay porn DVDs. So I’ve given some to friends but I’m going to try and do a charity thing with them. We’re already doing this Charity Water thing which brings water to a village in India and it costs $13,000 because they don’t just build a well but do pipes and everything.
That’s not as much as I’d think actually, for an entire plumbing system.
No, it’s totally doable. But the gay porn’s going toward this HIV/AIDS charity because they told me I can’t sell gay porn to build a school in India. Do you know I just judged the Miss India contest?
Yeah just last week! I’m obsessed with India. So here’s me in the Times of India. These girls were amazing – one goes to Miss Earth, one goes to this thing in Asia Pacific which I don’t know and one goes to Miss World. It was amazing. And one of the other judges was this huge Bollywood star – amazing.
So they just called you and were like come judge Miss India?
Well, the guy in charge of the pageant, the contestant director is named Mark Robinson whom I’m in love with and he was in charge of everything for Bombay fashion week which I went to last year and then he came to New York and did this thing at the UN and I threw him a dinner and Michael Musto was there and we’d just come back from judging Mister Gay Philadelphia and Marc Robinson, meanwhile that name might be made up because he’s Indian and his name’s Marc Robinson, said, “Oh we should do Mr. Gay Bombay would you be into that?
And literally I would shoot myself, nothing would even come close to that but meanwhile it’s illegal to be gay in India even thought they just had their first gay pride parade but like people wore masks. So I judged this instead!
So how’d you get from Illinois to Paper to India?
After I graduated high school I went to Purdue and got a BA in Spanish. I went there because my dad went there, my brother went there. I wanted to go to Malibu, to Pepperdine, which meanwhile is a religious school and I wouldn’t have wanted to go there but all I heard was Malibu and I was like, “Take me!” So then I spent my junior year in Madrid and went back after I graduated to teach English and that’s when I decided I was moving to New York to study fashion design. So I came here and went to Parsons and I hated it.
It was very different then, like the opposite of St. Martins. They wanted everyone to be Michael Kors’ assistant and I love Michael Kors but that’s not who I am and it just wasn’t very creative. Some people got me but most people thought I was a freak. So then I was interning at Paper, too.
How’d you land the internship?
When I was in Spain, I met all these girls from Barnard and one of their friends was the managing editor at Paper so they told me to meet her when I got to New York and I was obsessed with the magazine because it always had all the cool stuff. But I never thought about writing or anything and then Wendy [the managing editor] was like, “Why don’t you come be our intern?” And actually, right before I moved here I went to a psychic, June, who said, “I’m opening a magazine and seeing your work,” and I was like oh great I’m going to be a famous designer!
She was in Casadega, Forida, this spiritualist camp where everyone’s a psychic. She was my mother’s psychic, but June retired. I should go down there soon. So anyhoo, I got to Paper, interned while at school and then was here all the time in the summer. So by the time the fall rolled around I was like the veteran intern. And then I failed a class my senior year and then one day the girl who did everything around here from answering the phones to reporting on parties just got burnt out so they were like, “Hey Mickey, can you just answer the phones temporarily until we figure out what to do?” And that was sixteen years ago.
I know sixteen years is a long time, but any moments that really stand out to you?
Actually, I was telling someone the other day about my Sixteen Candles moment. We did this party for Todd Oldham because he’d photographed this crazy story for us with Monica Lewinsky and Cindy Crawford and I was standing there in the door as people were walking in and Diane Von Furstenberg walked in – and I worshipped her, still worship her on so many levels – and she was walking toward me with her arms outstretched and you know that scene where Michael Schoeffling’s at the church and he waves to her and she’s like [looks behind him], well I looked and then I realized she was coming for me and I was so excited! I’m still excited every time I see Diane but that to me was one of those moments where I was like, “I can’t believe this is my job.”
Vintage Paper covers
That’s kind of what this is for me.
Another one, another big moment was having Johnny Knoxville introduce me to the Olsens at the Costume Institute. I knew him from shooting the cover and he threw me a party for the 10th Anniversary of the Mr. Mickey column – he hosted it with Tinsley, Jason from Scissor Sisters. And you know when you have a party and you’re so worried no one’s going to come? Well the first three guests were Simon Doonan, Isaac Mizrahi and Boy George and I was like, wow.
I would die.
Amazing. Actually! Major Olsen moment. Carol [Paper's web editor] and I had like starfucker’s Saturday during New York Fashion Week. We went to Jovovich Hawk in the morning and I love Milla and you know how you have an appointment and you never know who’s going to be there – will it be a publicist and a rack or what?
Like when we went to Rodarte in Paris and it was us and Kate and Laura in a room and I died?
Exactly. So after Milla we hop in a cab to go to the St. Regis to see The Row. And we go knock and Mary-Kate Olsen opens the door and I’m like, “Uhhhh, helllo.” And then MK’s holding up a floor length dress and being like, “Am I doing this ok? I’m not sure how to hold this up,” and I’m just like this is so beyond. And then Ashley was like, “We’re just going to go on the balcony for a smoke, do you want to come?” And I don’t smoke and I hate smoking and I was like, “No, we’re ok,” and then afterwards I was like god I should smoke. And then, to top it all off a week later, I turn onto Mott St. and they’re sitting at Mottsu and I live right above it.
Across from Fashionista!
Yeah! So MK gets this big smile on her face and I look behind me to see which amazing person she’s smiling at and it’s totally me!
After sixteen years you’d think you’d realize people know who you are.
You’d think, wouldn’t you?
Is there anyone you haven’t shot or worked with that you’d like to?
Hmm, well it took us awhile to get Chloe Sevigny and she like is Paper. But we did and she was amazing. I’m not really into Madonna.
I’m just not that interested. I’d rather do Kylie Minogue. I love either a new new new or like a Julianne Moore or like an older one who’s just a freak and Madonna’s just not anymore – I know that’s like gay blasphemy. I would love to get Marc Jacobs on the cover and I’m sure he’d do it but he’d have to keep his clothes on! My ultimate covers are Karl and Donatella.
Together would be insane.
Right? I mean when we were leaving that Fendi party and Karl was pulling up in that fucked up Hummer and he got out with Ingrid [Sischy] and Sandy [Brandt] and I’m obsessed with that guy Sebastian but it’s like I’ve seen and met Karl like 10,000 times but it’s like he’s not real. He’s way too crazy to be real, like a projection or a hologram and it’s the same thing with Donatella. The last time I saw her was at Barneys and she was so sweet and oh I love Paper and I peed my pants and she’s such a unique creature and I just love her.
Shall we do favorites?
Favorite Food: Dal. It’s an Indian lentil dish. Anything Indian & vegetarian really.
Favorite Place: India. Istanbul’s a close second.
Favorite Word: Fregadero. It just means kitchen sink in Spanish but I love the way it sounds.
Favorite Paper Cover: Our 20th Anniversary issue.
Favorite Designer: Dries Van Noten.
Favorite Store: 10 Corso Como. But Barneys for one stop shopping.