International Women's Week - Nina Myskow on Jackie Magazine
This week marks International Women’s Week 2016, an international celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
To celebrate, we’re shining a spotlight on some of the incredible women who have helped shape our Spring 2016 Season of shows. First up, we chat to Journalist and TV Personality, Nina Myskow – the first female Editor of Jackie Magazine and creative consultant to the new musical, arriving at the Belgrade from Tues 15 – Sat 19 March.
Tell us how you got involved with Jackie the Musical?
By chance and coincidence! I bumped into John Reid, Elton John’s ex-manager at a Radio 2 event. I’d met Elton himself in 1967, hadn’t seen John in decades. He’s now in theatre, and a week later he played matchmaker for Douglas, Jackie’s producer, and me. So, very indirectly through Elton!
You worked on Jackie for some years before becoming the first female editor in 1974. What were the highlights for you?
Professionally I was thrilled that I’d broken that barrier, loved working on the magazine and had a wonderful time: I went on tour with the Osmonds in France, spent time with Donny, David Cassidy, David Essex and Marc Bolan, all the heart-throbs, living our readers’ dreams (although being a decade older, not mine). My first visit to the States was on Elton’s private jet. I once ticked off Bowie: “If a man is going to wear nail varnish, David, it should at least not be chipped!” He laughed, thank God!
Who was the nicest person you ever interviewed?
Elton was, and is, just a joy: very funny and very wise and we got on like a house on fire from the start. Bizarrely, the day we’d met he’d just recorded a demo of a single called Nina. He gave me a copy, and I have to say it wasn’t brilliant. Everything else he’s done, of course, absolutely is! Let’s not go into the sad fact that he once asked me to write lyrics for him. And I didn’t bother!
And who was vile?
Do you know, hand on heart there were no vile people. Now, boring? That’s another story! But you know what, time is a great healer and I genuinely can’t remember. But fascinating definitely outweighed dull.
Cathy and Claire were the original agony aunts. How many letters did they get a week?
About 4 or 500 letters a week, which is a huge amount when you consider that it was aimed at 12 to 16-year-old girls. But of course life was very different back then. There were no mobiles, no computers, no internet, and girls led a solitary existence by comparison with today. We tried to be a kind of big sister, and made sure that everyone got a personal reply.
Jackie famously advised readers to practice kissing on the back of their hand. Has that advice stood the test of time?
Well, try it and see what you think! These days there’s an awful lot of pressure on girls, and they almost seem to be expected to go from Barbie dolls to bondage. In those days they had the luxury of time to find out who they were and where they fitted into the world. Being a teenager is a difficult time, and I don’t think that has changed. Everything’s just speeded up these days. Times and Jackie were more innocent then.h2. Who was Jackie’s most popular pin-up?
Girls either loved Donny Osmond or David Cassidy, it was one or the other. A cover picture of David Cassidy sold two million copies! Our pin-ups in the centre pages were popular because the magazine was large and they were a decent size. I had the idea of spreading them over three week, legs, middle and then head, to make a giant poster. The circulation went from 600,000 to a million in months!
Jackie closed in 1993 – was it time?
Yes, times had moved on, but Jackie hadn’t. I’d left the magazine in 1978 to become the Queen of Pop on The Sun (I know!), but felt sad when I saw that it had folded. It had an amazing run of 29 years. Most teenage magazines were launched on the back of crazes and trends and lasted just a few years. Girls now can get their information on-line and from vloggers like Zoella, but there is nowhere they can get it all in one package.
You went on to judge the ITV talent show New Faces in the 80’s, where you were famously forthright. Is Simon Cowell copying you?
That’s hilarious! Simon is just being himself, which is what I always was. To me honesty is all-important, it’s pointless telling acts that they’re wonderful when they’re not. They have plenty of family and friends for that. And it’s wonderful, if rare, if you see genuine talent. Having said that, when I first met Simon 15 years ago he bowed down and did an, “I am not worthy, I am not worthy!” “You’re right, “ I said. “You’re not!”
You were a winner on BBC’s Celebrity Pointless with Gyles Brandreth. Where is your trophy?
I know the correct answer is the loo, but I have mine beside my desk where it can cheer me up on a grey day. I’m so staggered to win anything, particularly that show where I started disastrously (I know nothing about football) and finished badly (we picked the wrong subject), but was fine in the middle. Frankly it was terrifying!
Is Jackie the Musical set in the 70’s?
No, it’s set in present day, but our heroine, Jackie, a fifty-something woman at a crossroads in her life, comes across a box of her old Jackies and is transported back to the 70’s and her younger self and those days when she had the famed Cathy and Claire, the agony aunts, to give her much-needed advice. But the music is all the best of the 70’s, a fantastic soundtrack to the era. The dancing is superb, choreography by Arlene Phillips.
What can audiences expect from the show?
A fabulous, fun night out! Like Mamma Mia it’s hopes, tears, laughter, fears – a proper story – and you really care about Jackie and what happens to her. Every woman will identify with Jackie, but men will recognise exactly what it’s all about too. It’s a fabulous, feel-good high-energy night that will transport you back to those fun days of when we were all young and not just young at heart. What more could you want?
Jackie The Musical will visit the Belgrade Main Stage from Tues 15 – Sat 19 March. For more information and to book, call our friendly Box Office on 024 7655 3055 or visit www.belgrade.co.uk for more details.