A vampire in striped pajamas

In April of 1994, after being shown a copy of the publication’s Turkish edition, legendary Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown wrote the following amusingly despairing letter to its editor, Elif Dagistanli. The two ladies never did meet at the conference — soon after the letter reached Turkey, Dagistanli was relieved of her job.

(Source: Dear Pussycat; Image: Helen Gurley Brown, via.)

April 14, 1994

Dear Elif,

You and I don’t know each other and I’m looking forward to our getting acquainted. We will do that when Cosmo has a conference of international editors this October. Elif, I’m not the one who decides what to put in your magazine—the editor is the sole judge—but I really feel we can’t do what you are doing. Ecran Arikli I think would not have made an agreement with Hearst Corporation, who own Cosmo, if they wanted the magazine to be something totally different from the Cosmopolitan that we publish—otherwise they would just have started a new magazine without bothering with us. What I am getting at is that the cover is totally unacceptable! If you want to do your own magazine, that is one thing, but if you want to edit Cosmo, then we simply don’t use men on the cover let alone one with his pants open—there! May I go on? The naked girl with one hand on her crotch and one on her bosom is also pretty strong for us.

What is the girl with the whip on pages 84 and 85—it looks very sado-masochistic, a subject we might deal with but never in such a glamorous way. That would also go for the girl with the chains around her neck on page 87—if I’ve got my pages right. (It would be nice to see some page numbers a little often. The last one I saw was on page 80.) I think this is 93 but not sure. Anyway, the blonde girl is too “raunchy” for us—definitely not a Cosmo girl.

Our women are sexy and gorgeous but they don’t look like girls from a burlesque show.

Next we get on to the men’s section with the man looking like a vampire in striped pajamas. On the next spread we have a man with a snake crawling on his face and opposite him a man fondling his crotch.

Elif, really, this isn’t the right direction to go in everybody’s opinion who has anything to do with the magazine. Naturally, I haven’t polled everybody in the entire world but I don’t need to—Cosmo has a specific format and although each international editor has her own ideas about what goes in the book, I don’t think they would be along the lines of your particular presentation. As I mentioned, you don’t have any page numbers so I can’t tell you where we are but opposite the Clinique photograph—pale blue jar on white page, we have really disagreeable girl again—naked and sad. Then we get to the special men’s supplement. Another man with his pants undone on the cover, then we get to the penis on page 7 and the raunchy girl holding her breasts on page 10.

Elif, I don’t think we could go on like this. Do you wish to edit Cosmo or do we try to find another publisher in Turkey? I don’t quite know what to do next. Perhaps you will tell me.

All my best wishes,