Ousted xoJane beauty editor Cat Marnell—whose relentless documentation of her PCP and pill habits alternately captivated and enraged the women’s blogosphere—has landed a column at (where else?) Vice. It’s called Amphetamine Logic and its first installment, “The Aftermath,” went online Thursday.
The title refers to Ms. Marnell’s public falling out with xoJane editor-in-chief Jane Pratt and parent company SAY Media, who asked Ms. Marnell to go to rehab a month before she left. She announced her departure (a mutual decision with Ms. Pratt) in a Page Six item, saying that she couldn’t spend another summer meeting deadlines when she could be on the roof of the Standard Hotel “looking for shooting stars and smoking angel dust with my friends and writing a book.”
Talk about red flags. Though hardly known for its strict decorum, Vice does have more suits walking around since partnering with big shot TV executives and expanding internationally. Off the Record asked editor-in-chief Rocco Castoro if he had any concerns about the new hire.
“She is not an employee, she is a contributor. So, no, I am not concerned,” he wrote an in email. “This also means we can’t ‘make’ her do anything; we wouldn’t want to anyway.”
“There really aren’t any shooting stars. I looked,” Ms. Marnell told Off the Record the evening after the Page Six item ran. She’d recently woken up after a long night out at the Soho House, gone to the Starbucks on Delancey, listened to some Britney Spears, and read all about her departure on the Internet.
“Everyone’s like, ‘She’s dying.’ I’m not dying,” said the 29-year-old East Village habitué, who will do sporadic freelance magazine work and write her memoirs in between columns.
Nor is Ms. Marnell the only xoJaner to cross-pollinate with Vice, a magazine which shares Ms. Pratt’s affinity for the frank, the personal, and the taboo. Amy Kellner, a longtime Vice editor, helped launch xoJane. (She is now associate photo editor at The New York Times Magazine.) Liz Armstrong, formerly xoJane’s “New Agey” editor, became Vice’s West Coast editor, though she still freelances for her old employer. And another Vice fixture, Lesley Arfin, who now writes for HBO’s Girls, is a role model of Ms. Marnell’s.
“She was the first person I ever met who is cool and sober,” Ms. Marnell said. Although she’s unapologetic about her drug use, Ms. Marnell said that friends in fashion and art who secretly abstain could motivate her to get clean.
“The only higher power I could ever settle upon was social climbing,” she said, though she has trouble maintaining the interest of would-be sponsors.
xoJane’s critics argued that Ms. Pratt (known since she was the editor of Sassy for making characters out of her writers and editors) enabled Ms. Marnell’s addictions by paying her to write about them, but Ms. Marnell said the exploitation was more basic than that.
“The deadlines were my only enemy,” she said. Daily quotas gave her less time for “the fun, normal stuff” that xoJane writers mine for daily blog output.
“I had nothing else to talk about!”
There’s a pertinent Jenny Holzer aphorism pinned up in her room that says, “Recluses Always Get Weak.” As “someone who gets depressed and needs their brain stimulated,” she found the solitary blogger lifestyle—ordering Seamless, checking Twitter, taking self-portraits on Photobooth—detrimental to her health. “Especially as a pill head, you know?”
Ms. Marnell will use the extra time to hone her craft.
“I’m going to be writing in a different voice. I’m much more ambitious.” she said.
It’s apparent in her debut column, in which she trades her chatty, intimate xoJane voice for a non-narrative stream of drugged-out conscience sort of thing.
“VICE has always been all about the ART … and taking risks,” Ms. Marnell wrote Off the Record in an e-mail shortly after her column debuted. “I met with the editor in chief yesterday and he gave me no direction. I did what I wanted to do … which I always do anyway … Obviously.”