Hot Press magazine has just celebrated it’s 800th issue and to commemorate RTE1 is showing a documentary ‘Hot Press: The Write Stuff‘ on Tuesday 1st Feb at 10.15pm.
Their hair was once shoulder-length and what’s left of it now is mostly grey. Two of them are still following the same path they started down in the late Seventies, in a country of soaring unemployment and inflation, where contraception was illegal and divorce was banned. Others of them are now household names, as writers, journalists and commentators. Back then, they were young, unknown and there was no obvious outlet for their talents. So they set about doing it for themselves: in 1977, Niall Stokes and Mairin Sheehy founded Hot Press.
It was a music magazine and it became more – a political and cultural rallying-point for alternative points of view of all kinds. Its writers, designers and production staff tapped phones, biked cheques from bank to bank and drove in relays to the Kerry train to catch the printers, after long nights of putting the magazine together fuelled by coffee so thick a Turk could trot on it. They became a family, a haven of mutual support and, like many families, a place too for dysfunction and, for some of them, excess.
Long before the internet, they created a community which stretched from Ballaghadareen to Bundoran, from Enniscorthy to Skibbereen, united by the music and by their writers’ and readers’ different visions of an Ireland in which they could feel at home, in which they could be free to be themselves. And their contribution to the success of that movement has also, in the way of things, made them part of a new establishment. But at the exceptionally advanced age – for an Irish magazine – of 34, Hot Press is still here, still looking out for new voices, fresh writing talents, music that needs to be listened to.
The documentary Hot Press: The Write Stuff tells the tumultous story of those early years, through the memories of its writers including Declan Lynch, Liam Mackey, Peter Murphy and John Waters, of its founders Niall Stokes and Mairin Sheehy, and of Harry Browne, Dave Fanning, Bob Geldof, Jackie Hayden and Michael D. Higgins. It’s a story about music and politics, about principles and ambitions, above all a story about being young and just going for it.