There was one seriously humiliating moment that made me decide to start a magazine. The story goes like this: when I was 21, I landed the covers of both Gothic Beauty and the 50th-anniversary issue of Skin Two, which made me think that I was a hot shit photographer (I was not). High on the feeling of appearing in print, I set my sights on what I considered the next level: the fashion glossies. I called up their Manhattan offices leaving hopeful voicemails, never to hear back from a single one. But by some strange twist of fate, when I called up Flaunt, one of their founders, Long Nguyen, picked up the phone. He introduced himself and told me that he was stuck in the office working late on a deadline, and very agitated as a result. Naively, I began to tell him my story of being a young photographer dreaming of a shot to submit my work to their amazing magazine. Well, he totally shot me down. “Listen,”  he said, “do you know how many people call us every day and try to get published? Dozens. Hundreds. You think you’re something special? You’re not. Do you know how much crap we’re forced to look at every day? You can’t even imagine.”  We stayed on the phone for awhile, and he belittled every attempt I made to get them to even look at my work. Anxious to get off the phone with me, he cut off my pleas with a request for my phone number. “OK,”  I said, “it’s 2-1-5…” Before I could finish, he cut me off again, crying out exasperatedly: “OH my GOD, you’re not even in New York?!”  He pretended to take down the rest of my number and hung up, leaving me deflated and humiliated. My dreams of being a part of a really cool magazine were crushed. That’s when I realized how much I loved magazines. I’d show him. I’d show all of them! In hindsight, the whole thing’s really funny. I still love Flaunt.

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