Watching HBO Max’s Minx was a surreal experience for me. I know I’m an audience of one when it comes to this show. How many other people watching the series about a woman who creates the first erotic magazine for women have also launched a publication that marries erotica with a sharp point of view on politics and culture?
But that was what I did in the fall of 2020. With an adult company backing it, I launched The Gay Goods, a website that took porn as seriously as it did pop culture. And in the end, despite some success, I walked away because the owner and I didn’t agree on the direction in which we wanted to take it. No regrets—he had a very specific vision, and he deserved the chance to find someone committed to bringing that vision to life. But I glimpsed more potential in what we were doing, and I wasn’t interested in alternatives.
So you can understand that what happens in the season finale of Minx—Minx editor-in-chief Joyce walks away when she and the publisher can’t agree on the direction in which they want to take the publication—hit harder for me than for others. When telling her former boss about new job offers on the table, Joyce points out that they all come with one very big string: Someone else is still imposing their will on the thing she’ll create. “Someone who wants something from me, something they could never do on their own, but still insists on holding all the power,” she tells Minx publisher Doug. “I’m not sure I’m interested in giving away my power anymore.”
I’ve been an editor-in-chief for the majority of my 16-year career in publishing. I have overhauled two iconic legacy brands into digital-age players. And I still have to sell myself—unsuccessfully, so far—in job interviews with publications, who only see the companies at which I’ve worked and write them all off as less than. (That’s a whole other conversation, but suffice to say I constantly have to battle the impression that I’m “lightweight.”)
I’ve stopped applying for jobs at existing publications. Partly because I’m burned out. Partly because I’m no longer interested in massaging egos and managing expectations before I can get to the business at hand.
The first season of Minx ends with Doug telling Joyce that Minx is hers to do with as she wants. That’s not how my time creating a new publication ended. But I already have my eye on the next thing. And, like Joyce, I’m no longer interested in dancing to someone else’s tune.