Anna Wintour has glossed over the period after her 1976 firing from Harper's Bazaar, saying, according to the New York Post, "Once I got over being fired I did a little freelance again before getting a job at New York magazine." The "little freelance" gig was instead several years as fashion editor of Viva, Bob Guccione's "International Magazine for Women." We actually think Wintour should own this — it's really humanizing to think of the 26-year-old a) taking a job because she needed one and b) being "uncomfortable" at working in such close proximity to the Penthouse smut-labs.
Says a friend, "The whole place was pornographic, and here was this very proper, very pretty young Brit with aspirations of running Vogue virtually surrounded by glossy photos of big boobs." Seriously, boobs was the least of it. Viva, the short-lived " adult women's magazine" which employed the desperate young Wintour, was located directly next door to the brain trust from whence sprung "Penthouse Forum", and the offices were apparently bedecked with centerfolds. Viva itself was pretty smutty, what Wikipedia terms "essentially an erotic magazine for women, containing articles and fiction delving into women's fantasies, and exploring their sexuality, reviews of the arts, interviews with known personalities, fashion and beauty, etc. Viva magazine usually exhibited photography containing full frontal nudity and sexual encounters targeted at mature women readers." We're guessing fashion wasn't the main draw. When he launched the mag, Guccione described the Viva reader as "lusty, real, indefatigable, down-to-earth, fetching, bright, sexy, uncompromising." The last, at least, describes Wintour, who was apparently already a martinet in the office, what one colleague calls "a woman to be reckoned with,"
Allegedly, Wintour ultimately overcame her qualms, donning some kind of riding gear in the office and gamely editing a mag with headlines like "Women are into: total feminism, male nudes, pubic hairstyles, hash smuggling, great new fall fashions." (Which, frankly, we'd buy if we saw on the cover of Vogue.) And she only left Viva when it folded. We say she should own it: not only does it show a vulnerable side of the Nuclear Wintour — but if she's looking for some edgy shoots, any one of these Viva covers is a goldmine of inspiration.
Wintour: Penthouse Vet [NY Post]