2011 April 26
Assistant Files, Vol. 8: Tiffany Rose Clary, Details' Dan Peres
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(NEW YORK) This week, The Assistant Files hones in on life at Details through the fantastic and sassy perspective Tiffany Rose Clary, 29, assistant to editor-in-chief Dan Peres. Turns out that lads in the magazine realm just might more fun than their ladies' glossy counterparts. So what exactly does publishing paradise look like at this Condé title? Zero cattiness, Reese's around every cubicle corner, midday exercise demos, and much more...
How did you land the gig?
I came to Details as a temp; I was filling in while they were interviewing assistants for Dan. I’ve been his full-time assistant for nine months now. I’d floated around this building—I’ve been temping at Condé Nast since 2007, at Vogue, Lucky and W. I’m an actor-writer in my “life” life, and I've been doing the temp thing for these magazines let me use the fashion degree I got at Florida State.
What’s it like to temp at a place like Condé Nast?
Temping is the best way to prepare yourself to be someone’s assistant. Your skin is super thick, you have to throw yourself in situations without any training – and swim, so to speak. These people are depending on you to keep them on track, filling the shoes of someone who’s been there forever before the next person who’s going to be there forever. I knew the whole Condé culture already—it’s nothing exciting, it’s just knowing things like Urban Express is used for sending messenger items. Oh, and there’s an assistant fight club you get invited to on Fridays…I’m just kidding. If a call comes down from a certain person, you know to put that person through, like Bill Wackermann. But Bill’s never a diva about it; he never tells me to go find him immediately or anything like that. Tom Wallace, of course. And if the almighty Si [Newhouse] or his assistant were to call, yeah, that would get put through.
How did you transition from temp to full-time assistant?
When I first came to temp for Dan, we just had a conversation about what he was looking for. As he continued to search for a permanent assistant, I was fitting in at Details and he wasn’t finding anyone. It was interesting to be there as they looked for the fulltime assistant, and I was kind of jealous at some point! I found myself thinking, I’m definitely smarter than her. But I wasn’t looking to stay; I was going to go West and pursue other things. Dan said something like, “Stay, marry your boyfriend and get some benefits!” Once I figured out that he was serious, I took the weekend, did some thinking and decided I was into it. That’s sort of how Dan is: he’s very casual, and you know if he likes to have you around and he likes your energy.
Do you know anything about Dan’s previous assistant?
It was a chick as well, and she washed his fruit. He eats apples, bananas and almonds. She would wash his apples, but since Dan didn’t know she was doing it, I figured I wouldn’t continue. I do refill his water, though.
What’s the deal with Dan?
Dan wears jeans and sweaters and Chucks, so that’s already aces in my book. He loves his family, and my number one item on my to-do list every day is to help him balance his work and personal lives. You’ll know if he likes something, and if he hates it, you’ll know it as well.
Dan gets in before 8 a.m., which is crazy early. He’s eating breakfast while I’m still in REM sleep. I usually get in around 8:30 a.m., I print out WWD for Dan each morning, and he reads the Times as well. I organize his calendar, arrange appointments, and act as the liaison between Dan and everyone in the office, basically. I leave around 6 on most days, and Dan is very pro-"life balance" since that's something that's so important to him. When we're closing an issue, the days are longer, but nothing crazy. I think the latest I've been here is 9 p.m..
Do you have—or want—any editorial work on your plate, besides the assisting duties?
No, and I’m not sure I’d want to. I wouldn’t want to mess with what the staff does here, and they’re so good at what they do. I write dialogue and sketches, that’s my thing.
Any tricks or tools for keeping Dan’s life orderly?
Well, I’m a bit Post-It crazy. But that’s mostly because I have the memory span of someone who shouldn’t be doing this job. I also set tons of Outlook reminders, whether it’s because Dan needs to talk to our creative director in a week about something or call his wife tomorrow at a certain time. I also write everything down, as people are saying it. I’ve got a notebook that’s covered in tea stains, and it’s like my Bible.
How would you describe the culture of a men’s mag?
I’m about to get really excited, because I just have to tell you how awesome it is to work in an office full of guys. It is so different than a bunch of women working together, and it’s much more relaxed and direct. It’s a lot less catty and competitive. You have genuine conversations with people, and I’m a funny girl – I like to just say what’s on my mind, and I feel free to do that in this office. I’ve worked in some pretty uptight offices, and this is not one of them.
What’s the gender ratio at Details?
It’s about 60-40 men to women, maybe even 70-30, on the edit side, and there seem to be a lot of women in the art department. It feels like I had never seen a man in the other offices where I worked in the Condé Nast building. I definitely never sat next to one.
Is there any drama between Details and GQ, to your knowledge?
Not that I know of, but I’m sure there’s probably some sort of friendly rivalry there. I’ll have to look into that, maybe interject myself in the mix.
Does Dan ever talk about his fellow editor pals?
I think he’s the guy who talks to people in the elevator, so people in the building definitely know him. And he’s friendly with Jim Nelson and Dave Zinczenko.
Do you deal with interns at all?
Sometimes. They’re pretty cool, and I love to talk to them. I love seeing that fear of not knowing what’s going to happen next or what’s going on. There are so many interns in the fashion closet, I swear they’re running a factory in that room. I’ve seen three to four fashion interns at a time, but I’m not convinced that’s all of them.
How exactly do you smell the fear on these interns?
Well, I sent this one intern out to get napkins for something. It definitely involved food. I said just a normal, white napkin – and he went to 15 stores and was gone for over an hour. I thought I’d lost an intern and was going to have to notify the family. I felt really bad! It was sweet, though. He made quite the effort.
What does Dan eat for lunch?
Every single day, Dan gets the same sandwich from the Condé Nast cafeteria. It’s chicken breast on toasted seven-grain bread with cucumbers, lettuce and Dijon mustard. And we have a lady we like: she’s ridiculously good, so we’ll wait in line for her. She’s so meticulous: the cucumbers are always the same size and it’s the same amount of mustard each time. She’s awesome. I’ve never tried the sandwich, but I think I’m going to have to soon! He usually likes to eat around 11:30 a.m.. I’ve only gotten the sandwich for a Dan as few times since I’ve been here, because Dan tries not to make me do things like that.
What are Dan’s guilty pleasures?
Reese’s. This is a pro-Reese’s office. You should come snack with us sometime. Dan also loves good tabloid news; we were loving all of the Charlie Sheen madness.
Does Dan have any pet peeves?
He hates a detail forgotten, out of carelessness or in a hurry. So I try not to do that. Be on top of your shit is his thing, basically. Also, Dan hates a really wet sneeze in an open space, and I share that pet peeve.
Where does Dan stand on social media?
He’s into it. But it’s like pulling teeth to get him to tweet – though he’s so funny when he does! If it’s not organic though, forget it. You can’t force a tweet.
Do any of Dan’s personal tasks get delegated to you?
Not really. There definitely isn’t any Miranda Priestly type of craziness around here. It’s mostly just conversations about stuff outside the office, like the topic of baby stationary since Dan and his wife Sarah [Wynter] just had twins. I’ve never babysat, but I’ve spent concentrated time with their toddler, Oscar, running around the conference room here one afternoon. Oscar is the kind of kid that will really wear you out by the time you’re done playing with him, which is awesome. They’re going to be a cool pack of boys down the road, maybe a boy band. I keep saying Dan should get them into music, just don’t go all Joe Jackson or anything.
What’s one of your favorite aspects of this gig?
I have to talk about the food dynamic in this office. A major difference between men’s and women’s offices is that here, guys eat. And I love to eat, and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten in this building before. It’s along the lines of, “Oh, what’re you eating over there? Fried chicken? You really went for it, fatty!” I have been sent for an ice cream sandwich run once, but I won’t disclose who requested it. Yes, we eat ice cream sandwiches. Here at Details, I can eat Reese’s for breakfast and no one cares. Except for “The Body,” my arch nemesis.
You’ve got beef with “The Body”? Do tell!
It’s Tyler Graham, and he’s the editor of that section. Though I don’t think I’ve ever called him Tyler; just "The Body." I will sometimes walk on the other side of the building because I don’t want Tyler to see my fro-yo, since it’s covered in that Oreo cookie crunch, whipped cream and raspberry swirl sauce. He’s very judgmental about food, but I think it might be all image. I think he secretly goes home and eats ice cream all the time.
How has the debut of The Body changed the workout culture around the office?
It’s something I’ve been able to see come to life since I started, and it’s been pretty awesome to witness. My boyfriend is ripping pages out to try new moves. It’s great because it’s so service-y, too.
Are there ever any demos?
Actually, yes. I’ve seen at least three different moves tested by a bunch of guys standing in a circle in someone’s cube. That’s what happens when you’ve got an office full of men, I guess! It’s really sweet to see them have those moments.
How do your acting aspirations fit into your schedule as Dan’s assistant?
Nowadays, I sort of hate theater, and I’ve been trying to transition into film and TV. Being Dan’s assistant is a great 9-to-5 job that lets me work on my film writing on the side. I haven’t auditioned in a while, because I really hate auditioning in the winter. Dan gets that whole scene, though, because he’s married to a working actress. He never told me I had to hang up my life or my dreams when I took this job; he just said I had to do the work. As long as I don’t suck, I think he’ll continue to be supportive. When I decided to stay full-time, there was a Judd Apatow clause that was just understood. If Judd calls and wants to add a brown girl to his group, I’m out!
How does this job fit into your life plans, however specific or vague those may be?
I’m not the actor who’s okay eating Ramen noodles—I can’t even say it without gagging—and having 17 roommates, so working has always been a priority for me. The fashion degree certainly helped get my foot in the door at Condé Nast. It doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by really smart writers and leaders in this industry. I would hope that some of that is going to rub off in whatever I do next. So, there’s a bit of strategy involved; I like to find myself in creative environments. There’s no ladder for me being at Condé Nast. If something were to happen for me in this industry, that would be awesome, but that’s not really why I’m here.
Who would you love to swap places with in the publishing industry?
Probably André Leon Talley. It’s really great to wear the muumuu and be taken seriously. Which I doubt are the reasons other people would want to enter the field.
What’s on your bucket list, at Details or beyond?
I’d like my grandma to see me on the big screen. I’m definitely a comedy girl, though I can go serious and get dark. I’d like to be a funny woman; I’d like to be me, but if I had a choice I’d like to be a Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kalig. We can throw a little Oprah and a bit of Whoopi in the mix, too. Also, I think that Details should start a new section or column with a girl columnist, once I’ve made a name for myself. I’m just putting it out there into the universe.
Are you privy to anything on Dan’s bucket list?
One of Dan’s aspirations is to play basketball with the President.
Do you anticipate an expiration date on this gig?
It will be such a crazy day when I leave the Condé Nast building for the last time. I’m not killing myself when I come in the building each day, and I still like what I do. Ask me again in the winter, though, because that’s when I want to get out of New York.
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