“There’s a Party Going On!”

By M. J. Moore

One of the most irresistible original soundtrack songs to emerge in recent decades popped off the screen in 1996, when a cinematic romp called That Thing You Do! had its premiere.  It’s a film directed by (and co-starring) Tom Hanks, and it’s also a love letter to Pop Rock Americana circa 1964.

In other words, the songs giving the film its kick sound like “the early Beatles.”

One particular song, given a “Live!” performance before a screaming crowd midway through the film, has both a catchy title, “Dance with Me Tonight” and a key line, repeated more than once: “There’s a party going on!”. It is a song to snap and dance to.

That song echoed in my mind as a party got underway last July, in New York City, at 241 West 14th Street.  The bash was at The Norwood Club, a deliciously private spot inside a five-story townhouse in Greenwich Village.  It was a hot, sultry Wednesday night.

But it wasn’t just the weather that was steamy.

Kirsten Dunst

The party going on was to celebrate of the latest issue of a brash, sassy, sensually informed and female-centric new periodical called HoneySuckle Magazine.  Brazen photography artfully highlighting the human body?  Check.  Deep interviews and intelligent writing about coming-of-age issues, amid social and sexual upheavals? Check.  A gorgeous cover photo of Kirsten Dunst in a killer bikini?  Heavy check.

HoneySuckle Magazine’s launch party for its 5th issue—dubbed the “HERS” issue, because even more than usual, the magazine’s themes and variations are distinctly and gloriously female in tone, mood, attitude, and more—made me want to dance.

Alas.  There was, indeed, a series of musical performances going on, while dozens of individuals enjoyed drinks, delicacies, and the low-lit atmosphere (combining classy museum ambience with an old school jazz club).  Yet, it wasn’t music for dancing.

Not a problem.  It gave everyone more time to observe and ponder some of the movers and shakers who, in the high-risk economic climate of 2017, have had the audacity to stick with something like an impossible dream.  That is, to sustain and succeed with a new magazine that’s produced to be hand-held, as well as online.

The visionary behind HoneySuckle Magazine is founder and publisher Ronit Pinto.  One sign of Pinto’s superb skill as a “Girl Boss” (a T-shirt slogan she adores) is her discerning ability to surround herself at HoneySuckle Magazine with equally smart, talented, forward-looking artistic women.

My favorite party moment occurred in a flash (pun intended) when suddenly I thought I saw the Four Horsewomen of the Arts (instead of the old Apocalypse).

Actually, what occurred was the taking of a spontaneous still-life photo, wherein Ronit Pinto was part of a quartet brimming over with brains, ambition, and beauty.

four women

Let’s call the roll: Ronit Pinto on the far left, with her magazine’s Deputy Editor and Director of Special Projects—Naomi “Noni” Rosenblatt—standing beside her; along with guest Terry Lawler (she’s the Executive Director of New York Women in Film & Television), and Jaime Lubin (actor, filmmaker, editor and consultant).  Lubin is the Managing Editor of HoneySuckle.

The party’s vibe was hectic, spirited, boozy, flirtatious, and fun.  And yet, as I saw the photo being taken of those four innovative, creative, get-out-of-my-way women, my own mood was subdued, almost poignant.  Maybe because I’d been learning a lot.

I’d learned, for example, that aside from being one of HoneySuckle Magazine’s editorial gunslingers, Naomi Rosenblatt is also the publisher and top editor of Heliotrope Books.  We’re not talking about some self-publishing endeavor here.

Somehow, against all odds, a full slate of risky new literary works (memoirs, novels, and more) have earned Naomi Rosenblatt and her company the honor of being celebrated as “the downtown indie press” by the Huffington Post.

Last summer, one of her writers (Bob Brody) had his new memoir nicely summed up in The New York Times, which boosted his Playing Catch with Strangers royally.  Around the same time, a Heliotrope author published by Rosenblatt last June (Steve Villano, author of Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mario Cuomo and My Brother) was embarking on a three-week, four-state book tour.  Again, these are not larks or amateur writers.  Back in 2016, for example, within just a few weeks of each other, two other scribes whose works were brought out via Rosenblatt’s Heliotrope Books publishing house (the writers were Tom Huth and Catherine Hiller) had substantial opinion pieces prominently featured in the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times.

And, on and on and on.  By the time this is in print, Jaime Lubin will have flown out to and returned from the Third Eye Film Festival in Los Angeles, where a short film she had a hand in (acting, co-producing, and more) was screened with other new works.

Meanwhile, Ronit Pinto and her industrious HoneySuckle Magazine colleagues are ramping up to launch Issue #6 on February 23rd.  Cannabis is the all-encompassing theme and an array of provocative material is being presented.

(M. J. Moore is a frequent contributor to Neworld Review.)

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