Project X Magazine began in the late 1980s when it was founded by nightclub promoter Michael Alig and nightlife personality Julie Jewels.

The magazine began as a Xerox-style "zine" that was typically passed out in nightclubs. It mostly served as an advertising vehicle for the nightclubs where Michael and Julie worked. It originally focused on club kids, drag queens and other nightlife personalities who patronized or worked at clubs like Red Zone, Tunnel and The World.

Michael and Julie were able to assemble a large group of creative people who slowly made the magazine more professional.

After the first eight or nine issues the magazine adopted a four-color glossy cover and eventually the magazine went full-color inside. Because many of the people involved with Project X worked in the nightclub business, it wasn't always easy for them to release the magazine on a regular schedule, so there wasn't one. At first the magazine had dates on the cover, but eventually the magazine switched to a numeric issue. That way if there was a two-month delay in getting the issue to print because of money problems the issue wouldn't appear to be outdated.

As Project X became polished it attracted more advertisers and the editorial content focused more on fashion and music, with fewer pages of the magazine devoted to club kids, though they were included in every issue. Project X irregularly produced issues through January 1996, when infighting over editorial control and finances led to its closure.