Looking for Miss America, this week in Publisher’s Weekly…

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Margot Mifflin. Counterpoint, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-1-64009-223-5

Mifflin (Bodies of Subversion), an English professor at Lehman College, intertwines the histories of the Miss America pageant and American feminism in this vigorously researched and wryly humorous account. Over the past century, Mifflin contends, the pageant—which began in Atlantic City in 1921—has exemplified social tensions over gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. She notes that one early contestant was arrested on the beach for wearing the same “sea togs” she’d worn on stage the day before; that African-American women were officially excluded from the competition until the 1950s; and that only one Jewish woman has ever won. As the contest evolved from crowning “the girl next door” to anointing the “biggest glampots,” Mifflin writes, the addition of a scholarship program tried to “cover the skin show with the fig leaf of a diploma.” Mifflin profiles famous contestants (Bess Myerson, Gretchen Carlson, and Vanessa Williams) in depth, but also allows less-familiar names, including Yolande Betbeze, whose refusal to participate in the swimsuit portion of the contest led to the creation of the rival Miss USA pageant, to take center stage. This incisive and entertaining history deserves the spotlight. Agent: Linda Chester, the Linda Chester Literary Agency, (Aug.)

Coming in August..

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

…a Library Journal Most Anticipated Books of 2020 pick!


Monday, August 20th, 2018

My essay about the dad I barely knew is in the September issue of  O, The Oprah Magazine.


Talk Nerdy!

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

I enjoyed chatting about my books with the illustrious Cara Santa Maria on Talk Nerdy.

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Proud to have served as an advisor on a portion of the historic exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”




Latest Project:

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Items: Is Fashion Modern? at the Museum of Modern Art

Reunited with an old friend…

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Obama 2

Body Electric

Friday, September 12th, 2014










Body Electric, an exhibition of visual art by tattooists
that I curated at Ricco/Maresca Gallery:  September 18-Oct 25.  Press:

Talking Tattoos with Katie Couric

Friday, April 18th, 2014

KatieShow_2With Stephanie Tamez, co-owner of Saved tattoo, featured artist in Bodies of Subversion, and professor teaching tattoo design at School of Visual Arts.





KatieShow_1 2.5 minute afterparty…

Black Tattoo Art 2: Modern Expressions of The Tribal

Friday, November 15th, 2013

BlackTattooArt2_coverUntil recently, the most stunning book in my tattoo library was Black Tattoo Art, Marisa Kakoulas’ 536-page compendium of  black and gray (mostly) abstract tattoo work. Now there’s competition: Kakoulas’ Black Tattoo Art 2: Modern Expressions of the Tribal (Edition Reuss). Also a door-stopper, it’s loaded with tattoo history (perhaps you knew that Otzi the Iceman  is one of the oldest tattooed mummies, but did you know his 57 tattoos mark acupuncture points?) and page after page of mind-jolting images from around the globe.

Nazareno Tubaro

Nazareno Tubaro

Kakoulas is a rare combination of tattoo scholar, journalist, and enthusiast who curates the best examples of innovative tattoos on her site NeedlesandSins.com, and in her books. Far too many tattoo art collections consist of reflections on the genesis or meaning of a tattoo or rote testaments to how edgy or obsessive an artist is. Not this one: Kakoulas delivers the history, the technique and the reported story, eliciting meaty quotes from artists who would be (and have been) less compelling in less professional hands. “Pacific Island Design can be applied to the layout of individual designs that may originate from virtually any culture, from any part of the world,” Rory Keating tells her. “The overall fit of the tattoo on the canvas of the body is of the ultimate importance in tribal. Since there are no pictures for the eye to dwell on, the flow of the work predominates on the mind.”

Tomas Tomas

Tomas Tomas

Keating’s observation relates not just to the chapter on Neotribal art in which his work appears, but also to the Dotwork, Celtic/Nordic, and Traditional Revival chapters in this book (less so the more illustrative Art Brut pieces). To my mind, the most progressive tattooists at work today are freeing tattooing from the literal constraints of illustration. They include Tomas Tomas (London), Nazareno Tubaro (Buenos Aires), and Roxx 2 Spirit (San Francisco)–artists who create patterns that embrace and complement the body instead of using it as a signboard. Kakoulas introduced me to all of them.

Roxx 2 Spirit

Roxx 2 Spirit