As PMQ celebrates its 20th anniversary, we honor the past and look forward to the future in this special oral history.
PMQ’s founders and longtime team members reflect on two decades of progress, pranks, pitfalls and pizza.
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Linda: I’m really proud of our U.S. Pizza Team. We were originally invited by an Italian magazine publisher to compete, and I was so excited to see those roots of the industry. We’ve had great sponsors believe in our team, and it’s been a great source of publicity. We even marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Pizza’s always a positive thing, and now we’ve been growing the team for 17 years.
Sherlyn: In the early days, as a mom-and-pop organization, with just a handful of us, Steve Green would sometimes sleep here. When sales clients wouldn’t call him back, he’d call them again and leave funny messages in a Jimmy Stewart imitation voice. He did a great Jimmy Stewart voice. Everyone wore multiple hats. There were many all-nighters.
Tom: Working at 3 a.m., you get creative. One night, I was reading about subliminal messages. I went to our graphic designer, Eric, and said, “Do you think you can hide a picture of a scantily clad woman on the cover?” He said, “Sure I can.” It became a regular thing. But it came to a head when Eric’s screen calibration was off on his computer. The magazines came back, and it was a little more obvious than what we saw on the screen. Once Linda got wind of it, that was over.
Sherlyn: In this particular 2004 issue, a woman called and said, “I won! I found it!” I said, “Excuse me, what did you find?” She said, “I found the person hidden in the cover.” I got the magazine and looked at it, and I’m like, “Oh, my God.” I was thinking, do we have contests I don’t know about, or is this some type of gag? Eric just had this smirk on his face. I told Steve, “Look at this cover. Just look at it.” Eric and Tommy had to fess up. There was a scantily clad woman in the oven. If they hadn’t gotten busted, they would have continued.
Tracy Morin, senior copy editor: Speaking of hidden messages, when I started in 2007 as copy editor, it was my job to read the entire magazine, and I found these cryptic messages at the bottom of the masthead, which lists the staff members. They’d say things like, “PMQ Magazine—Apply directly to the forehead.” No reader reads the fine print, but those got deleted straightaway. I doubt anyone ever saw them.
Eric Summers, art director: I had a lot of fun hiding things throughout the magazine back in the day. We worked some crazy hours around deadline, so it was a mischievous way to let off some steam. In one 2003 cover, I hid my wedding invitation cover and a picture of my soon-to-be-wife. The message that Tracy mentioned were a blast. Every issue I’d use a quote from movies, TV, comics, all manner of pop culture. They were silly, but it gave the magazine a fun bit of personality to the people that found them.