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Cheap Date zine, Dazed Digital
Cheap Date zine cover, SS04via Cheap Date magazine, SS04

Why Cheap Date is the best 00’s zine you've never heard of

The Mushpit co-founders Bertie Brandes and Char Roberts remember the scuzz-chic sass of Bay Garnett’s style bible

Taken from the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of Dazed:

The Mushpit zine has been gleefully sending up the fashion world for four years now, but it was only after discovering the equally anarchic Cheap Date from the 00s that coeditors Bertie Brandes and Char Roberts began to take their dreams of self-publishing seriously. Dusting off their old copies of Bay Garnett’s style bible, they remember the mischievous musings of their predecessor.

How did you first discover Cheap Date?

Bertie Brandes: Sharmadean from WAH introduced us to Cheap Date and it was unlike any magazine we’d ever seen before; super smart, funny, aesthetically amazing and basically what we’d been waiting forever to discover.

What were your first impressions of it? And how was it different from everything else that was out there at the time?

Bertie Brandes: Cheap Date seemed to transcend genre in a really novel way. Obviously it was born out of the fashion world (co-founder Bay Garnett is a long-time Vogue contributor) but the tone explores fashion and all it’s brilliantly funny cliches with such cynicism that it felt totally new and anti. It was the coolest, funniest way we could imagine of poking holes in an industry that we both happened to be working in and were both struggling to love.

What was your favourite issue and why?

Bertie Brandes: There aren’t enough issues to have a favourite really and they’re all amazing anyway. The Paris and Nicky Hilton cartoon is definitely one of our all-time favourite features and the high fashion advert parodies are really inspirational for Mushpit too.

“We want Mushpit to be supportive but also feel a bit naughty. There should always be a few pages you tilt really far towards you when you’re reading them on the bus” – The Mushpit

What are five life lessons it taught you?

Bertie Brandes: 1. Labels mean nothing if you have style and a sense of humour. 2. What makes you laugh probably makes other people laugh too. 3. Your tone of voice is who you are, don’t ever dull it down. 4. Don’t worship at the alter of big brands when it comes to advertising, they can seriously undermine the rest of your magazine. 5. Be determined and sassy and always have a right-hand woman. Working together means we’re twice as hard to turn down.

When did you decide to start up The Mushpit?

Bertie Brandes: We started it from our Dalston flat in the summer of 2011 because we thought all other magazines sucked and we wanted to make our own; it helped that we also had a three month summer break and student loan to burn. The biggest challenge is funding and we still totally clear out our personal accounts when it comes to print week because we’re much keener on hand-picking and curating a few really special adverts rather than shoving any old money-maker on the back page. Every page of Mushpit is precious to us!

How do you think Mushpit and Cheap Date are similar? 

Bertie Brandes: We definitely don’t take ourselves too seriously and enjoy making fun of fashion just like Cheap Date. We also have quite a similar big sister feel to the tone, we want Mushpit to be supportive but also feel a bit naughty. There should always be a few pages you tilt really far towards you when you’re reading them on the bus! Like Cheap Date, Mushpit is also very much of its time which makes it date really well. We spend hours in hysterics going through the Mushpit archive. We also champion different body shapes, beauty in all forms and a general love of making people feel good about themselves.

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