Mag Collector Kevin Harry Has Issues
Feeling forlorn about the future of print? Meet magazine super-collector Kevin Harry, who spends his days running the show at Inside Edition and his nights pouring over your greatest hits.
BY EDDIE ROCHE
How many magazines do you have in your collection?
Around 3,000, maybe more. I haven’t counted. I have most of the House & Garden issues when it was edited by Anna Wintour, the very first Mirabella, all the Spys, M’s, and Rolling Stones, and a gazillion Italian Vogues, especially from the ’90s. I have all of the early Papers, and all the Details, back from when Annie Flanders started it. Bill Cunningham, Michael Musto, Patrick McMullan, and Hal Rubenstein were all contributors back then. That was downtown New York. It’s quite a collection.
But you’re not a hoarder…
Not at all! My storage room has about 15 boxes, categorized by title. I’ve always loved magazines. It started with my love of Ebony. My parents would get it every month and I’d wait with bated breath to see the cover. I used to call magazines the poor-man’s coffee table book. I’d go back and read them again and again.
What do you love about them?
They take you on a trip and are a time capsule. I love reading articles from 15 years ago. The stars often predict their own futures.
How did it turn into a collection?
I’m a kid from Detroit, so reading Interview magazine in my bedroom transported me to New York City. I’d sit there listening to soul music and flip through it, and think, ‘Wow! This is what New York is like!’ The magazines were a connection to what was going on in pop culture and fashion.
What magazines do you miss?
Early on I loved Right On. It was like an African-American version of Tiger Beat. I loved America, helmed by Smokey Fontaine. I loved the European magazine Dutch.
You have most of the issues from Anna’s time at HG. Can we take a look?
I have almost all of them.
[We look] The front looks a bit like Vogue today with all the red and black.
Exactly. I loved the cover with Veronica Webb when she’s wearing Azzedine Alaïa, and inside, there’s an incredible story about Diana Vreeland’s home. André Leon Talley had a column called “Talley Sheet” about the things that he loved.
Do you have a favorite cover?
There are so many. Oprah on Vogue, Aretha on Interview.
Why don’t you have any covers framed in your house?
I tried once and the framer told me how hard it was because I wasn’t going to take the issue apart. I couldn’t do it. I want to touch them. I want to flip through them.
Why don’t you work in magazines, by the way?
I probably could have been a magazine editor. I’m a journalist at heart. I also know what’s happening, and one of the things I love about certain magazines is the mix. Graydon Carter has done a really great job at Vanity Fair because there’s something for everyone. It’s a nice stew, and it’s delicious.
Do you think magazines are as good as they used to be?
A lot of them are still very strong. I don’t want to see magazines disappear. I want to be able to turn the page and feel the paper. So the answer is…yes, I do.
How much money do you think you’ve spent on magazines?
Oh, my goodness. I have no idea. Thousands.
I don’t think it’s that much. Magazines were only $2 when I first started buying them, remember. Of course, I’d buy 20 at a time.
How much do you think your collection is worth?
It’s priceless. If you look at them, it would give you an incredible picture of fashion and culture over the past 30 years. If a martian came to Earth and looked at my collection, they’d know what had been going on.
Have you left them to someone in your will?
I have. I want the collection to be kept together. I want them to be loved and appreciated in the same way that I’ve have. I also want them to be useful. They’re not so precious to me that I can’t still pick them up and touch them.
What’s the most surprising magazine that you collect?
I love ESPN The Magazine. It’s brilliant. I loved their recent body issue. But I buy everything from Redbook to Popular Mechanics. I love O! It’s news you can use.
What’s the best place to buy magazines in the city?
My man across the street at Ink on Avenue A. If you go there, ask for Ben.
Do you subscribe to anything?
No, never. Part of the enjoyment is going to the newsstand to see what pops. The guys all know me. Some of them even call me.
You’re certainly dedicated.
I’m a journalist; a sponge. I love information. Friends will come over and sometimes just grab an issue, and not talk to me. They love them, too!