It’s testament to the sheer number of independent magazines being published at the moment that Illegal! has been running since 2013 but I only came across it a couple of weeks ago. I was at the Byline festival of journalism, speaking on a panel alongside the magazine’s editor Louis Jensen, and I found myself riveted by his story of working with drug users to produce and distribute a magazine dedicated to changing the conversation around drugs, addiction and legality.
Jensen makes Illegal! along with his co-founder Michael Lodberg Olsen, and hands it out it to drug addicts living on the streets, for them to sell. So far, so Big Issue. But Illegal!’s controversial marketing message takes it a step further, boasting that the vendors will sell the magazine to make enough money so they can buy more drugs.
I wanted to hear more, so I invited him over to the office this week to speak more about his short- and long-term ambitions for the magazine, his deliberate courting of controversy, and his own background and relationship with drugs. Needless to say, this episode contains some adult material, so it would be best not to listen along with small children or anyone else who you wouldn’t want to have sex and drugs in their ears.
If you’d like to hear more conversations with magazine makers, minus the sex and drugs, head over to our Soundcloud or iTunes pages and have a trawl through our previous episodes. And if you follow us while you’re there we’ll deliver next week’s episode to your phone as soon as it’s ready on Friday afternoon.