How ‘Minx’ recreated the world of ’70s American magazine publishing – The Hollywood Reporter

Inside HBO Max’s World of Period Comedy NaughtyJake Johnson’s Bottom Dollar editor Doug is King and set designer Jeff Sage, along with set designer Doug Mowat, helped build his castle.

The first season of HBO Max’s comedy-drama Naughty is obviously a time capsule of feminism, capitalism, race and sexuality, but it’s also a rare look at the world of 70s publishing. The Hollywood Reporter as for the show’s primary publishing environment, Bottom Dollar, they weren’t recreating the “very shiny Playboy look where they really spent money on photography and beautiful models. Instead, it was “low-rent soft porn”.

“At the time, it was a booming business, all this world of B magazine genres where the models aren’t so attractive, the photography sucks, the sets and the swimsuits are very simple,” a- he explained. “So we wanted to get it.”

Sage says the reality of porn publishers like Bottom Dollar at this time is that they were generally “a found space” that wasn’t particularly defined by a single brand. Instead, they had a revolving door of titles leaving their offices to “feel like there was no organizing principle.”

“They weren’t designed as corporate offices. They were thrown together,” he says. THR. “So we always wanted to live in this brick warehouse and make it look like they didn’t build it – like it was a devolved circus – and nobody really thought about it. Like, ‘Hey, we can put the reception here and everyone can work there. We will put a picture there.

To “celebrate the mundanity” of the magazine editor, neutral warm browns, golds and the “occasional pop of color in set dressing” were used, according to Sage. Ultimately, everything would be, color-wise, an extension of what was in the original warehouse. But set designer Mowat says being set in the early ’70s doesn’t mean Naughty were just “avocado and orange chairs”.

From left to right: Jessica Lowe, Ophelia Lovibond, Oscar Montoya and Jake Johnson
Katrina Marcinowski/HBO Max

“I think for this particular company, it’s kind of mom-and-pop-ish — it’s kind of small and they get by. They have all these different departments crammed into one warehouse,” Mowat recounts. THR. “They had older stuff – it’s a world without computers, all with rotary phones. So one approach was to overlay [the age of the set decoration] and to bring previous things. Then a lot of the technology is more cutting edge – the radios, the lights.

Mowat, who took over from Jennifer Gentile after the pilot, said he was able to salvage much of the original decor, with some modifications. The team turned to the History for Hire prop house to help fill Bottom Dollar’s office with vintage film and television lighting, as well as photography and photo lighting equipment. . They also relied on Warner Bros. and others for accessories, as well as local antique stores, eBay and Facebook Marketplace for everything from vintage drawing materials to fine pencils.

Real estate master Rich Hobaica helped select period-appropriate cameras that Richie (Oscar Montoya) most often finds in Richie’s (Oscar Montoya) hands, while the set designer says the team added enlargers period, trash bins, and more “because they’re still dealing with actual print, not digital,” for the dark rooms of the office. As for the character offices, this lack of principle organization plays out per character.” Tina’s office was very organized and so was Joyce – very anal,” he said. “I don’t think you see it a lot, but we do. ‘made it very clean and everything was in its place all the time, when the others were just a mess.”

It was a tough mess, however, as locating items that were in good condition and didn’t betray their age proved tricky. “A stereo that’s 40 years old, it’s probably scratched and missing arms and stuff, so we did quite a bit of legwork to locate things that were in perfect condition or we had things restored,” says Mowat. THR. “We found a typewriter dealer, we found someone to recreate vintage telephone directories for us. Something that people forgot was that those offices back then, especially magazines and newspapers, had tons and tons of phone books from all over the country.

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From left to right: Idara Victor and Jake Johnson
Katrina Marcinowski/HBO Max

While the disorganized premise was the general approach to the Bottom Dollar space, there were three major design exceptions – the conference room, the design room, and Doug’s office. “These three spaces were meant to serve the script specifically as places where you can really go in and close the door or you can open all the doors and people can come and go freely, so it would feel more like an enclosure area” , said Sage. .

Doug’s office had more organization and more green—a choice inspired by the team’s decision to make Doug’s car “a rich emerald green.” Mowat, who turned to King Richard’s Antique Vintage Center in Whittier for the room’s look based on the 50s, 60s and 70s, called the office’s vibe a “more masculine conquistador”.

“If you look in there, it has these wrought iron lamps and the furniture is very heavily carved. It’s very much from that period – that real masculine Spanish influence,” he says. “There are also other animal prints on some pillows and a giant picture of a tiger. It’s the kind of macho stuff we make for Doug in the living room, which is kind of a hodgepodge – as if people were bringing stuff from home.

The design room, where the Bottom Dollar team regularly began reviewing the Naughty layout on bulletin boards before it went to the printer, also had a stronger sense of organization. “It wanted to be a little bit more dramatic, a little bit more emphasis because that’s where the product would come together and come out,” says Sage.

The last place was the conference room, which houses NaughtyThe famous “penis mix”, as Sage describes it, where the design could really underline their vision of putting “the action in a little more private place”. During the pilot and this much-talked-about edit, the crew sequestered space by having the Bottom Dollar set cover the room’s windows with newspaper “so the rest of the staff couldn’t peek in. on the inside”.

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From left to right: Ophelia Lovibond, David Paymer and Jake Johnson
Katrina Marcinowski/HBO Max

“It was kind of a way for us to say, ‘OK, even they or they know it’s unusual and different. They’re not going to have it in the photo area, which is wide open. It’s every day. Topless women coming and going every day – no one pays attention to that,” Sage says. “This scene, in particular, was like we were going to try this new thing and we were going to see guys’ penises and it was actually nasty, which is a hilarious concept in a soft porn business.”

Creating the rest of the publishing world beyond Bottom Dollar was therefore primarily focused on evoking a visual and organizational contrast that could quietly allude to Joyce’s (Ophelia Lovibond) rejection of conventional journalism.

Although not based on any particular men’s magazine of the time, the very masculine, well-established Laboratory magazine was to be “the antithesis of Bottom Dollar,” says Mowat, with its closed-door offices and burgundy, hunter green, and black color scheme. Leather sofas and dark, polished wood gave Sage “an Old World sense of friendliness” comparable to that of a country club, according to Mowat.

“The idea was, with this men’s magazine, to contrast these choices. It looks like a good life. These guys put their feet up and tell rude jokes. They are well paid,” says Sage. “And there was an idea that these guys are typecast a certain way. They typecast themselves expecting a career. You’ll have this office for now and when you do better you’ll have it. a bigger one or you’ll get the one on the corner. It sort of suggested the ladder to me. They’re all trying to climb.

While the color palette of Joyce’s early work was more pink and white, it also offered the same opportunity to highlight what Joyce was abandoning and playing in rejecting traditional journalism for the less finished and more disheveled Bottom Dollar. organizational.

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Michael Angarano
Katrina Marcinowski/HBO Max

“The teen magazine and the men’s magazine were meant to have very specific conventional looks. They have a corporate feel. People are very concerned about the image this magazine projects, not just on newsstands, but in the world in which they work,” says Sage.

As for how they captured journalism beyond the desks, the pilot’s keynote presentation — the show’s most important and comprehensive footage from the ’70s — provides the best insight, highlighting the larger vision. of the show consisting of mixing the historical with a modern and fictional imagination. While researching how to build one, Sage says showrunner Ellen Rapoport revealed the pitch-a-thon “was a bit of an invention.”

“She knew from her research that there were publishing conventions, but the idea of ​​going into a pitch-fest was kind of our creation,” he continued. “We researched many period conventions just to find out how they fit the graphics. From there, we filled in the blanks.

And while they took some creative liberties, the packaging – like a big part of the approach on Minx — was faithful to the times. “We were looking for places that could organize this type of event and we found this particular place, which is the old maritime terminal of San Pedro. It’s a period building, built I think in 1961,” he says. “Throughout the show, we try to be as authentic to the period as possible.”