Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Josh Spero of Spear's: 'As for my bed, I did just kick a banker out'
Josh Spero, senior editor and website editor of Spear's. Click here for its website
Leathered Arcatistes will know that Madame Arcati has been most teasing of the publisher, editor and journalist William Cash. His writings, for instance, in ES Magazine are characterised by an extraordinary fixation on the super-wealthy and their gilt-edged micro-habitats: others might call this fixation his specialism. Inevitably, he owns and edits the quarterly Spear's magazine - itself a respected bible for the world's mega-monied.
Remotely, astrologically and Twitterly I have struck up a fleeting acquaintance with William's wife Dr Vanessa Neumann - an intriguing socialite whose chart reveals both a committed humanitarianism and a taste for sensation.
Now, remotely, I have made a connection with Josh Spero, senior editor of Spear's, and I couldn't resist asking him to talk about his work - and what it is like to work for William Cash.
Josh Spero! Hello. You're the senior editor and website editor of Spear's magazine - which means you work for one of Madame Arcati's frequent targets of interest, William Cash. Tell me about Spear's - it's all about wealth and the wealthy isn't it?
Hi, Madame - I liked your latest incarnation on Broadway - Angela Lansbury doing a turn. Spear's is about wealth but it's much more than that - people want authoritative intelligence about and analysis of global finance and the best writers on art, luxury and travel. Combined with our trademark witty style, it's the whole package.
What in Spear's terms is the minimum worth of a wealthy person?
We usually say £3 million - but anyone who's interested (wealth-regardless) can subscribe or read all our content plus blogs on spearswms.com
Spero/Spear's: do you think your name had anything to do with your appointment? And tell us briefly about yourself - are you innately interested in the wealthy? Where else you have worked and who shares your bed at night.
The name is a happy coincidence; I always think that being edited by William Cash and worked on previously by Sophia Money-Coutts is more apt. It doesn't go unnnoticed, tho'. The wealthy are interesting because - like any anthropological group - they have their own customs, hangouts and events, and it just happens that to observe them in their natural habitat you go to Berkeley Square, not Borneo.
My first job in journalism was hateful nightshifts on the Independent, after which (as the saying goes) I went freelance and wrote for the Guardian's ArtsBlog for a while. Then I met William at a party, freelanced for Spear's for a year and came on board permanently last July. It was July 14, Bastille Day - except this time I felt I was storming the fortress of the rich *on the side of* the rich.
As for my bed, I'm wretchedly single, tho' I did just kick a banker out. (This wealth thing is getting to me.) If any man considers himself eligible, my email's not hard to find.
And what do you do precisely? What time do you start work and end?
9-6 Monday-Thursday writing for, editing, commissioning the magazine and running spearswms.com with its blogs, newswire, party pics and all else. But a journalist's work continues in the evening - all the events (as fun as they are) are business as much as pleasure.
Tell me of the most interesting story Spear's has run of late.
There's Conrad Black's diary from jail (http://www.spearswms.com/good-life/diary/4411/exclusive-conrad-blacks-jail-diary.thtml), which got into the Sunday Times - he's unrepentant and on the verge of being proved right. Christopher Silvester wrote about what the wealthy should do when they're arrested, which is looking likely after l'affaire UBS.
What's William Cash like - I mean is he hands-on? Does he rage and storm about as many editors do? Or is he an ocean of calm? Does he have an eccentricty? Anna Wintour I hear chucks coins from her purse into her wastepaper basket.
William doesn't rage or storm - he prefers to get things done. I've learnt a lot about how to run a magazine from him. He has, tho', been known to come in two days before going to press and say, I've commissioned this piece... He also says 'unacceptable' a fair amount.
Does William know you're doing this interview? I've been quite naughty about him in the past. Did he say, "Be careful of that crazed blogger Madame Arcati"?
He doesn't know, but that's because we've been mid-office-move for a fortnight so I've been working from home. I don't think he's ever issued a fatwa in your honour.
Who do you think is the best writer on the subject of money and wealth - best in the sense of style and accuracy? And who is the best connected?
John Arlidge is Spear's Chancellor of the Excessive - he's a whiz on luxury - and Stephen Hill is our prescient, acerbic economic commentator (http://www.spearswms.com/spears-world/salon/stephen-hill/). I have to mention Anthony Haden-Guest (http://www.spearswms.com/search/?search=haden&x=0&y=0), our arts editor, who is a legend both sides of the Atlantic and one of my favourite writers. William has some pretty good connections - you say 'Do you know someone who...?' and he invariably does.
What were you doing in Switzerland the other day?
I was interviewing the CEO of Hublot watches in Geneva. It's my second visit there this year, after Design Miami/Basel and Art Basel. It's nice but I'm a London boy through and though - it was way too small.
One of my beefs is that too many magazines and newspapers are preoccupied with wealth and status. Taking your Spear's cap off for a moment, what do you think?
Definitely. If you talk about wealth and status, don't fetishise them, which is the mistake most papers make - they can be serious objects of study and comment too.
William got back control of Spear's lately. Tell us about that and what difference that's likely to make to the magazine and to you.
William rescued Spear's from Luxury Publishing - and it feels good to be independent. With new investment, we've got our sights set on the world - we already have a Russian edition and we're looking forward to Indian and far eastern ones too. As for the difference to me, plus ca change...
Who is the most fascinating rich person in the world? - and why.
I don't think I can name one but I can pick a whole class - entrepreneurs. Everyday I meet and write about them, and the fizz of their brains makes them bound to succeed. They see the holes in the world where no-one else does and have the energy, creativity and intelligence to plug them. It's like watching kaleidoscopes of genius.
In a few words tell us where serious wealth resides these days and is it moving any place? For instance, is the Russian oligarchy about to implode?
At the moment, Russia and the Middle East are heavily oil-dependent for wealth, which is a mixed blessing. As for implosion, it's already happened - most have been bailed out by the Kremlin. I'd look to China in the future - it can only go up.
I did your horoscope, Josh. Capricorns such as yourself have a natural affinity with high status; your Moon in Leo makes you confident, exuberant even, with a keen sense that you can beat others at their game. It's a good leadership indicator provided arrogance is reined in. Your tender side does not always get properly expressed. Together, the placements make you independent, and eager for authority: indeed people with this combo often successfully seek high positions in large enterprises. Integrity is important to you. As I don't have your time of birth I can't calculate your Rising Sign, but other placements worth mentioning: Saturn in your 2nd House oddly enough puts a focus on finances - this can mean that lessons learnt in life will be through a preoccupation with money as well as hard work which does not generate much in the way of financial rewards. The Sun in your 4th House makes you dominant in family situations, can indicate a very close attachment to at least one parent, and is often found in people who make a "family" of friends or colleagues. Your Moon in the 11th House assures you a wide social circle among all classes and an ease with the powerful. This is an extremely brief horoscope I'm afraid - but does it ring true?
Gosh, it does - it's almost like you've seen my forthcoming autobiography (as yet unwritten). Confident - you can't be a meek journalist. Exuberant - I'd hope so. Tender - give me the chance (see above). And a wide social circle - I mistakenly synced my iPhone with my address book and wound up with 2000 names.
Where would you like to be in, say, five years' time?
I'd like to carry on in financial journalism, so maybe the Economist or FT, but my secret ultimate ambition is to present Front Row on Radio 4.
Thank you Josh! Give my love to William!
Spear's website click here