Jun 15, 2006|
Steve Freeman: I’ve known Greg Duncan since I was 12. I met Gretchen Worth through Greg. Greg moved first to Asia in 1987. He asked Gretchen and I if we wanted to come to Hong Kong to start a magazine. We said OK.
Greg Duncan: I was living in Hong Kong and felt continually frustrated that I never knew what was going on in town. I’d find out about great concerts the day after they happened.
Gretchen Worth: We wanted to have a city entertainment magazine. The concept was originally more glossy, but the core and the philosophy was a mag that celebrates Hong Kong and finds all the great things to do here. Our first office was in Greg’s apartment.
Steve: We started the magazine with three dollars. I always say that and nobody believes me, but it was true.
Gretchen: Our model was actually something like a cross between New York and Spy Magazine.
Greg: “Noxious” is the appropriate word. We printed our pages on a laser printer, then took them out the back door of my flat, in the stairwell of the building, to spray them with adhesive. The air was so thick with poisonous fumes, we had to close the door and let it ventilate. But I did notice the cockroach population went down.
Gretchen: This was before email, before networks, before everything. We were using spray glue - which probably leads to memory loss - on printouts and we thought it was a big step up in the world when we finally got a waxer. Those were the days.
Steve: Our process was very 19th century. We were in Greg’s flat for almost two years, and then in a grungy apartment in Wan Chai for another two years. Our individual offices were all in bedrooms and production was in the kitchen. We had a staff of one.
Gretchen: We all had other jobs. We didn’t have any sleep. There’d be bad takeout food and styrofoam boxes delivered every night for dinner. To finalize the first issue, we stayed up three days and nights. We were breathing in these industrial fumes in this tiny apartment.
Steve: I distinctly remember going to the printing factory and I remember walking home after being there. It suddenly occurred to me for the first time that we would have to put out another issue. We’d been so focused on putting this one issue out.
Gretchen: I remember the first person I saw carrying the magazine. I was near Pacific Place at about 5pm, and they were carrying it. It was this random person who probably worked in the government office. It was exciting.
Greg: The morning after the first magazine came out, I was woken up by a call from a reader asking if I could tell him where to buy a certain type of mosquito coil. I knew then this was the start of something big.
Steve: It registered with people very quickly. We all quit our other jobs.
Gretchen: At that time there weren’t free distribution magazines in Asia.
Steve: Obviously the magazine’s changed, but we were remarkably true to the vision. What Hong Kong wanted in 1991 isn’t that different from what it wants today. It wants individual voices, voices to stand up for people instead of promoting the voices of government and other special interests. They want a free and open and democratic and fair society. None of that’s changed that much.