2004_08_intmoreno.jpgThe Basics

1. Age and Occupation:
Robyn Moreno, 31, Michelle Herrera Mulligan, 29, co-editors of Border-Line Personalities: A New Generation of Latinas Dish on Sex, Sass, and Cultural Shifting (Rayo/HarperCollins), a book about being Latina in the 21st century.

2. Where do you consider home?
Well if home is where we pay exorbitant rent, then it’s Brooklyn for both of us.

3. How do you get to work?
Robyn takes the trusty F and Michelle the speedy Q.

The Specifics

4. In the forward to your anthology, Julia Alvarez applauds you for looking within to ask ¿Qué Dice la Juventud?—in effect, what the youth have to say for themselves. And what the collection of essays seems to stress is that as a collective, you represent everything—all sorts of politics, family configurations, and ambitions, to say nothing of the endless configuration of ethnicities. In your introduction you wonder why you are all collectively referred to by the media and increasingly by one another, as Latinas. What do you think most people associate with this word?
A hot piece of ass. Seriously, the problem with having two Latina actresses in Hollywood (besides the
maids and “sad girls”), is that Salma and JLo define Latin for a lot of people. In our book, we offer 20
stories of modern, intelligent women’s lives. But there are 20 million Latina stories out there, and we feel this is just the beginning.

5. After you graduated from college, you both moved to New York and worked at Latina magazine. How do you think women’s magazines in general might work to promote more diversity and acceptance among its readership?
After we left Latina, we found that mainstream fashion magazines still have a very specific, East Coast, WASP vibe to them at the top levels. Increasing numbers of people of color are entering the magazine world, but they usually get jobs in the research and copy departments. There are plenty of qualified candidates for editors’ jobs, but they don’t always go to the “right parties” and graduate from the “right” colleges. Additionally, editors tend to look out for those who remind them of themselves. More people of color need to be in positions of power for any real change to happen, and the magazines will evolve from there.

6. Cecilia Balli's essay in your anthology concerns, in part, how precarious it is to write about those who are close to you: "I am teetering on a borderline between so many things," she writes. "Between honoring the people I write about and disrespecting them, between healing through truth and revealing dirty secrets, between writing as necessity and writing as privilege." You both have published tremendously confessional pieces in this book. Where do you stand on this borderline, and what has the response been like from your families?

It definitely was hard for family and friends to read their most embarrassing moments, and we hoped not to exploit them in any way. Yet, our aim in this book was to tell our rawest stories about growing up as honestly as possible. That honesty is what resonates with our audience, Latino or not. For both of us, the emotional moments on our tour were seeing our families come to terms with the stories while listening to them during our readings. There was a genuine catharsis there.

Remembrance of Things Past, or three tried and true, with thanks to Andrew Krucoff:
7. What era, day, or event in New York's history would you like to relive?
The blackout—the one where people robbed and pillaged. This last one was way too polite.

8. Best celebrity sighting in New York?
Michelle got hit on by Anthony Michael Hall in a seedy bar, she took the free drink, but never called.

9. Medication: What and how much do you take?
Birth control pills, one daily. Oh, and the occasional vitamin.

The Rest of it:

10. In 1971, Professor Marvin Zuckerman of the University of Delaware published a Sensation Seeking Scale questionnaire—asking such sex, drugs, and rock and roll questions as whether you LIKE to dive off the high board, or whether you don't like the funny feeling you get when you're standing on it. On a scale of 1 to 40 (40 being Evel Knievel), where are you? Why?
Robyn has swum with piranhas and Michelle jumped out of a plane, yet between us we’ve nervously seen all the doctors on our lousy health plan … so we’d say about a 30.

11. What's the last thing you tried to read but didn't finish?
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books—Enough with Nabokov already.

12. What are your plans for the Republican National Convention?
Says Robyn: “Out of town, suckers!”
Says Michelle: “Hiding, don’t look for me.”

13. Did you vote in the last election? If not, why not, and when's the last time you voted?
Yes. In the hotly contested Letitia James race, for the 35th district in Brooklyn.

14. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “overrated”?
The entire Hilton empire.

- Interview by Sarah Robbins