Full disclosure: I was pretty excited when I got word that we were granted an interview with Dita Von Teese for this issue’s cover story. After all, here was an opportunity to give our readers an up close and personal look at a world-renowned entertainer, author, actress, costume designer and self-made entrepreneur. Von Teese is someone that took something fringe and forgotten (burlesque) and made it mainstream. She’s the child of a machinist father and manicurist mother who ended up hobnobbing with Louis Vuitton and George Clooney. To grab a line from our cover story, Von Teese overcame struggle and reinvented herself on her own terms.
When I told my wife about the Von Teese cover story, she got pretty excited, too . . . then she did a double-take and asked, “Wait, what does Dita Von Teese have to do with medical marijuana? Does she have anything to say about it?”
My response: Everyone we put on the cover has some sort of connection to MMJ. We wouldn’t have it any other way. I run into this situation from time to time. The No. 1 question that I get asked about CULTURE (after “How can I become one of your strain and edible reviewers?”) is: How do you decide who gets on the cover?
Now before I get into that, I need to fess up: CULTURE’s been on a winning streak when it comes to our cover stories. Since we launched in June 2009, we’ve been highly successful in getting an amazingly diverse array of folks from all walks of life to grace our glossy face each and every month.
From cultural icons known across the globe (Ziggy Marley) to political provocateurs (Bill Maher), from push-the-envelope comedians (Margaret Cho) to television personalities (Bob Saget), from veteran cannabis figures (Ed Rosenthal and Cheech & Chong) to pop culture phenoms (Wiz Khalifa and Weeds actress Mary-Louise Parker), our covers are full of surprises.
You never know who you’re going to get.
Some of our choices are obvious (B-Real for our inaugural issue, Kid Cudi last month), while others less so (Devo?). Some of our covers probably surprised people (Paul Oakenfold—really? Roseanne Barr?).
During our creative brainstorming sessions, we’ve tossed around names like Harry Belafonte and Betty White (Betty White!).
Like I said, we’re always cooking up a surprise. And that’s the point. We keep you guessing—and grab your attention. Sure, we could take the easy route and just use a photo of big buds for our cover and call it a day.
But our readers and patients deserve so much more than that. Our readers deserve a cover story on someone who has something intelligent and compelling to say about themselves, our world . . . and medical marijuana. And everyone’s take is different—which makes each of our covers unique.
Sometimes the subject of our cover story uses medical marijuana (Melissa Etheridge turned to cannabis it to deal with her cancer and chemo). Sometimes they are unabashed advocates for utilizing marijuana for economic, social and overall health reasons (Willie Nelson comes to mind). Sometimes, the people we interview approach cannabis from a political direction (Roseanne Barr is pushing for legalization). Sometimes we interview cannabis users who don’t know the difference between an indica and a sativa (Bill Maher, I’m looking at you!). Regardless, everyone is relevant to medical marijuana.
They weren’t for cover stories, but CULTURE’s interviewed celebrities (Korn’s Jonathan Davis and Rob Zombie, for example) and progressive activists (Firedoglake’s Jane Hamsher) who do not use cannabis . . . but they firmly believe that Americans have the right to use cannabis—Dita Von Teese is a perfect example—or support states’ rights to enact compassionate legislation.
White or black, young or old, male or female, left or right, rapper or rocker—the diversity of CULTURE’s covers and content echoes the diversity of our community, the diversity of our culture.
Now, excuse me while I drop a line to Betty White’s publicist . . .