Magazines #47: SPY (May 1988)

Here is a 1988 issue of SPY magazine.  If you don't remember, SPY was kind of like National Lampoon, but not as funny, not as irreverent, and so-very of its time - the late 1980s.  Still, it's worth a browse.

I've included some sample pages below - advertisements and pictures I found interesting. Or, you can download the whole shebang.  Either way, enjoy!


I wonder how this comparison would look today.  Comparing TIME to reality television and 24 hour news networks would give you a very different breakdown today, I would think.

I fly a good bit with my job, and I can't comprehend how this even makes sense.  They'll upgrade you to first class with a coach fare?  (cough) gimmick (cough)

Haven't seen Mondo New York, but I hear it's a cool documentary of the eighties NYC music scene. Anyone recommend?

I suppose this shoe advertisement is supposed to be funny. I, for one, am not laughing.

Note: I've decided to do away with any advertising, and just rely on reader generosity to keep this train running.  I certainly don't plan to ever make a profit from Retrospace - just recouping some of my expenses for scanning, etc. would be wonderful.

Keep Retrospace truckin'!  Even a buck will help!


  1. A decade later, Time's parent, Time Warner, would buy CNN (and all other Turner networks).

  2. I've been using bitcasa for storing large files. You might try that out. drive.bitcasa.com They seem big on privacy.

  3. AnonymousJuly 21, 2015

    Being an art student back in the 80's I appreciated Mondo New York it's great movie & have the vinyl soundtrack. I actually made a copy of it on VHS. Highly recommend it.
    - Jez

  4. Spy was the "in" thing when I was in college. I never got into it like some of my friends did. After I got out of college, you never heard of it again. After downloading this, I can see why it is no longer around. There isn't any focus. It is like they took parts of Mad, parts of National Lampoon, parts of National Review, and parts of Town & County, threw it in a Cuisinart and printed what they poured out in a stylish design. I remember the having classes where they discussed how great the design on this magazine was, but now it is almost headache inducing. It is definatly a product of it's times. I picture a preppie somewhere saying "Kids have Mad and the stoners have National Lampoon. We need a magazine of our boring humor mixed with serious news articles."

    Also, at the risk of sounding like an Ozarker, it is too Manhattan, New York/Washington Beltway centric.

  5. AnonymousJuly 22, 2015

    I LOVED Spy in its early years. It was so 80s NYC (I was living there at the time) and it gives me a comforting dose of nostalgia for the period without ever wanting to go back to it. I loved Separated at Birth and some of the articles-John Casablancas, acting classes, "Isn't It Ironic?"- were pretty fun reads. Oh, and those Yuppie Benson & Hedges ads! I agree, it was really all over the place. It didn't know what it wanted to be. Kind of remind of Gawker.

  6. I generally like Kurt Andersen's work, but SPY was the most overrated attempt at a satirical magazine so far. NATLAMP, even at its best, was overrated as well, but not even they as much as SPY. And then both got taken over and made worse. Thank goodness THE REALIST was available. And THE ONION isn't always brilliant, but boy, a much better batting average. HELP!, the old MONOCLE (vs. the new one, which kind of reminds me of SPY) and such all have their strengths and weaknesses, but damn...SPY and the LAMPOON have been coasting on underserved love for entirely too long.

  7. Running the J Walker ad alone disqualified SPY...but, if on must: https://books.google.com/books?id=AXKlThqFFT0C

  8. SPY was around as late as early 1990s....I loved it...:D