- Photo: Joshua Yospyn
Rachael Prokop appears to be the only person not drinking alcohol during happy hour at Café Asia. “I’ll have a hot tea,” she says, giving the server a huge smile.
“I don’t drink beer,” she tells me, confessing that while she loves D.C., its nightly happy hours threw her for a loop when she moved from Ohio seven months ago. “That’s unthinkable in Ohio!”
Prokop, 23, of Crystal City, doesn't have a lot in common with many of young college-educated women who flock to D.C. She has no political aspirations, spends zero time at the gym, cares little about clothes, doesn’t date, and has no apparent desire to climb any ladders, social or otherwise. While seeking permanent employment, she freelances for the Hemophilia Federation of America and works on her two novels, one of which is about a werewolf who decides to attend human college and discovers she’s a lesbian. She once dressed in a hazard suit and pretended to clean a seal during a demonstration to mark the one-year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill. She has a hard time naming a bar she likes.
If Prokop feels out of place among the professional set posturing at Café Asia, she certainly doesn’t betray it. Her unfussy ponytail and makeup-free face stand in comic opposition to our cartoonishly sexy waitress, who wears turquoise eyeliner and a tiny black one-shouldered thing. Prokop gives her another huge grin when she sets her tea down.
Prokop describes herself as having “a tendency to take a very positive outlook,” but if she’s particularly cheerful today, it’s because she just published her first piece on Rookie, the online magazine debut from teen guru and fashion-world darling Tavi Gevinson. Gevinson, 15, launched Rookie last month to great fanfare and a New York Times article, and reportedly received more than 3,000 applications after putting out a call for contributors.
Prokop didn’t know who Tavi was and only heard about Rookie through a friend’s blog, but she went ahead and submitted a piece advising teens on how to tell their parents that they’ve become vegetarians. The story, which she penned for the teen page of the Warren, Ohio, Tribune Chronicle as a high school student, got her one of the coveted spots on the Rookie masthead.
Most of Rookie’s contributors exhibit stylish, quirky photos and descriptions of themselves on the magazine’s staff page, listing qualifications like living in Transylvania, enjoying Super Mario, and possessing a soul made of glitter in their bios. Prokop’s says that she likes visiting museums.