In April 1988, 30 years ago, Donald J. Trump had started his devolution into the “Short Fingered Vulgarian” he is today (even in ’88 his hands were an issue). Yet who would have imagined this glob-mass of super id, a man who built a career on being “A power-mad egomaniac” would be elevated into the most powerful of all the world’s super powers. After coming across this 1988 issue of Graydon Carter and Kurt Andersen’s SPY magazine, I’m still incredulous, dumbfounded and heartsick that Americans so effortlessly elevated New York City’s biggest joke into the United States most powerful official.
Is America really a country where anybody—even an empty suit—can make it big? Or is this just some cosmic comedy?
Trump was often covered inside and on SPY covers. Artifacts such as these covers and the parody ad below, depicted the pathological publicity addict as the overcompensating, unloved pathetic clown he proved to be. It offers anything but solace in light of his ascendancy and its aftermath, and simply is a cautionary note to the sane among us, that what you satirize today may get the last laugh tomorrow.
Photos by Deborah Feingold (body) and Joe McNally/Wheeler Pictures (head).