Debbie Stoller Talks About What Makes Bust a Hit

A Very Different Kind of Magazine Carves Out a Niche

A Bust Read: Debbie Stoller launched Bust as an answer to women’s publications that put women down while giving advice.
Aliya Naumoff
A Bust Read: Debbie Stoller launched Bust as an answer to women’s publications that put women down while giving advice.

By Michael Kaminer

Published June 19, 2013, issue of June 21, 2013.

(page 2 of 2)

Your 20th-anniversary issue includes a look at what’s changed since 1993. What would you say is the biggest change in the pop-culture landscape as far as women go?

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Tina Fey had her hands in so many parts of pop culture, from [“Saturday Night Live”] to her own show to playing Sarah Palin. Amy Poehler is also all over the pop-culture landscape. They’re two girls in the mainstream, but they represent the kind of person we represent — smart, funny, sarcastic, outspoken pop-culture feminists.

It’s tough out there for print media. How have you and Laurie Henzel managed?

We just did the whole thing scrappy. Started scrappy, still scrappy. We can never pay anybody what they really deserve, which is unfortunate, but it’s one way we’ve been able to stay in business. We live within our means.

What do you think Bust will look like in 20 years?

I have no idea, and I don’t want to have an idea. One thing that’s been so great is how much things have changed, and how feminism has changed. Cooking, crafting and domesticity are part of youth culture. They have a place. Feminism has worked its way through that. It’s not something I would have been able to predict 20 years ago. When surprises come up in the culture, that’s fun.

Bust magazine is rooted in feminism, but we don’t talk about feminism that much. I’d never say the way we’re seeing feminism right now is the be-all and end-all. That was the problem of second-wave feminism in the ’70s: There was an agenda of what feminism must be. Bust embraces some things that feminists have rejected. I’m hoping that in the next 20 years we’ll be able to work through this Rubik’s Cube of what feminism looks like. You have to keep rethinking and rethinking and rethinking, and eventually you hope society will get it right.

You own Bust.com. That must be worth a lot of money.

I don’t know. Nobody needs Bust.com to make money.

This interview has been edited for length and style.



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