After several years as a medical writer, I made the transition into popular journalism, thanks to a well-timed downpour. While covering an award ceremony for Chinese virologists at The Plaza Hotel in New York, I had the good fortune to be seated next to the then editor in chief of The Sciences. Waiting for the black-tie dinner that followed—to which we’d been cordially invited—we got to talking, but when we discovered that press would be given sandwiches and ice cream instead of the filet and baked Alaska on the menu, Richard and I decided to leave. Lucky for me, just as we emerged from the hotel, the heavens opened up, leaving us no choice but to retreat to the Plaza’s famous Oyster Bar for dinner. It was there that he offered me my first magazine assignment. And it was not long after that he introduced me to his former college girlfriend, who just happened to be managing editor of Mademoiselle. And so my career as a journalist was launched. Just fyi, not only are Richard and his wife still dear friends of ours, but a few years after he and I met, when Joan decided she wanted to write, too, I was delighted, as senior editor at Self, to give her her first assignment. That’s how things happen in New York.
My articles for women’s magazines soon earned me the moniker “love/sex maven of New York,” as well as distinguished journalism awards from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the Planned Parenthood Foundation, and the American Psychological Association. I scored the highest-selling issue of Reader’s Digest with my cover story on potbellies, and my exposé “Hell on Wheels” in New York Magazine set the city’s taxi industry on its ear—my revenge following a taxi accident in which the driver carried virtually no insurance. Aside: That accident was largely responsible for my nascent hat fetish: The plastic surgeon who stitched up the nasty facial cut I’d received warned me to keep the sun off my face for a whole year to prevent the scar from darkening. And so began my collection of wide brim hats. (Think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.) Many were designed for me personally by famed milliner Frank Olive. Still have ’em, still love ’em, still wear ’em, although my more recent acquisitions tend to be fedoras. There are just so many wide brim hats that will fit in a Manhattan apartment!
Over the years, my work has appeared in more than 20 consumer magazines, including Vogue, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Self, Ladies Home Journal, New Woman, YM, New York Magazine, Reader’s Digest, American Health, and Psychology Today. See the left column for some samples. More recent musings can be found on womensvoicesforchange.org.