There are a million stories in the naked city, and this is a funky one.
In a small suite of offices in the bowels of lower Manhattan, a group of kids led by a 44-year-old self-proclaimed Earth Mother named Annie Flanders are putting out an underground magazine.
The office is on funky Broadway, and on this night, with the March issue fresh from the printer stacked in four-foot piles all over the offices that could serve as the set for a Raymond Chandler mystery movie, Flanders is eating a funky microwaved fried egg sandwich, washing down vitamins with a hot cappuccino and laughing so hard her wild auburn hair shimmies.
With a little imagination, it could be a scene out of the '60s: Kids putting out a small magazine on cheap newsprint that they believe will make the world a better place.
The thing is, Details is about fashion.
"Don't let that bother you," says Flanders, the editor-in-chief, publisher, and guiding force behind the controlled anarchy, with a laugh. "Fashion is the most revolutionary thing going on right now. I am open to whatever the kids want to write about. Clothes is it."
"I mean, we had a TV column for a while and all the writer wanted to do was attack Reagan. That just got to be a bore."
"We want to have fun. That's no fun. If you can convince me it is, then I will write about it."
Founded three years ago with $6,000 of Flanders' money and a list of 10,000 insiders provided by nightclub owners, last year fun-loving Details grossed $450,000. With a circulation of only 30,000 the champagne-colored magazine is hardly mass market, but there is little doubt Details has already made its mark on mainstream fashion coverage.
The Flanders approach is to address the worlds of art, music, food, night life and fashion as though they were all parts of a single package, what she calls the 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. life style.
Written in a confessional first-person style that verges on the naive, the stories in Details nonetheless have an immediacy that make for entertaining voyeurism. "We want the reader to feel that we have been somewhere they want to be. Many of our readers never go out and see what we see."
After all, who has time to go out every night of the week, as Stephen Saban does to produce his successful and gossipy nightlife column, this month opening with a night in Harlem? Who has the time, for that matter, to explore a half dozen coffee shops, as Hal Rubenstein does this month in his column I'll Eat Manhattan?
Or who can explore the heart of Paris, as photographer Billy Cunningham did to produce a 40-page spread this month on the wildest clothes in the world, notably surrealist-inspired sculptural outfits turned out by students at the Studio Berc,ot?
Nobody but Flanders could have put together this mad fashion journal. A serious businesswoman despite her free-spiritedness, 20 years ago she opened Abracadabra, one of the first psychedelic boutiques, featuring, among other designers, Willi Smith and Diane and Pinky. Ten years ago she found 30 designers working in grungy lofts in SoHo and put on a fashion show at the Mudd Club. She moved on to become fashion editor of the seriously trendy SoHo Weekly News.
The week the SoHo News folded in 1982, Flanders recalls, publisher Michael Goldstein explained to the staff that he was happy the magazine was going under. He stood up and yelled, "You know something is wrong when the only controversy in this newspaper is in the fashion coverage."
Flanders smiles as she savors this special moment in her life. She takes a bite of her funky egg sandwich, adjusts her Velcro-padded shoulders and says with a sigh, "All I really want to do is go home and eat dinner in bed."
For a look into the "wide open world of fashion," Flanders recommends the following Manhattan boutique-galleries: Patricia Field (10 E. Eighth St.), 109 St. Marks Place (109 St. Marks Place), Charivari Workshop (441 Columbus Ave.) -- as well as Yonson Pak (107 Thompson St.) and En Avant Comme Avant (148 Sullivan St.).