JDHS grad Spins dream in Big Apple

Behnert helps direct art department for major music magazine

Posted: Friday, August 11, 2000

Lara Behnert is buying a little home in what she considers a small town.

Not here. New York City, where she works for Spin magazine.

The 25-year-old was raised in Juneau, but New York is her home now, she said. She's buying her apartment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and though millions of people live within a few miles, Behnert said the Big Apple doesn't feel all that big to her.

``I actually find it to be a small town in a lot of ways,'' Behnert said. ``It's like a conglomeration of small communities. It's pretty neighborhoodly.''

She does miss the nature, the mountains and the wildness surrounding Juneau. She also really misses her brother, she said.

But for Behnert, Juneau doesn't have as much of what New York has to offer -- culture and diversity. Between her hometown and her home, there's a good balance, she said. She said her parents -- Ray and Sue -- made a point of getting her out of town and into the wide world early.

``My parents were very supportive of me getting out of Juneau from time to time,'' she said. ``They sort of understood that being cooped up in Juneau wasn't the healthiest environment.''

Sue Behnert said her daughter seems to have inherited the ``immigrant spirit'' of her parents' parents. Lara's grandparents from both sides of the family came to the United States from Germany. Sue and Ray came to Juneau from the East Coast.

``All of us left our homes and moved somewhere else,'' Sue Behnert said. While her daughter prefers an urban environment surrounded by millions of people, she likes the ``more gracious'' personality of the Pacific Northwest.

``We like less people, more opportunity to be outdoors,'' she said. ``We like the wilderness and being close to it. Less crime. More trust.''

She said it wasn't easy for Lara to say goodbye to Alaska.

``It's not easy to leave someplace like this and go to someplace like that,'' she said.

While going through the growing pains that come with being a teen-ager, Behnert looked to magazines to give her a window to the rest of the universe. That experience, she said, is a part of the reason she works for magazines now -- to ``repay the favor.''

Now, she's laying out about half of the pages of Spin, a monthly music magazine. Spin has a circulation of about 750,000. That's more copies than Alaska has people. The circulation of her hometown paper is a bit more than 8,000 on Sundays and about 7,300 during the week.

Behnert is associate art director at Spin magazine. She had a similar position at the J-Bird, the student-run paper at Juneau-Douglas High School.

At 16, she ``marched'' into the offices of Sassy magazine. She showed the staff her portfolio. She was picked as a photographer for a reader-produced issue of the magazine -- a national publication for young women that has since folded. Her photos appeared on 10 pages of that issue.

``It was kind of a coup,'' she said.

The coup was followed by the Rhode Island School of Design. She graduated in 1997, worked for a downtown New York magazine, a couple of trade magazines, a dotcom company and then Spin, where she's worked for more than a year. The next issue of the magazine will feature the 100 sleaziest moments in rock, she said.

``It's definitely not something that they would let us get away with at the J-Bird,'' she said.

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