Archive for the 'Men’s mags' Category

Are You a Bastard?

Neal Boulton, former Men’s Fitness editor, believes that we are all bastards. His new online magazine/blog ,, is for the pansexual man who needs help with “the vice of manhood.” What the hell does that even mean?

Launched Oct. 18, BastardLife claims to be a guide for men navigating a brave, new world of sex.  Boulton sees his “bastard” inhabitants as a very kinky man who doesn’t care whom he has sex with, be it men, women, transvestites, transsexuals, or transgender. When the site launched, it featured full pieces such as how to tell if your girl is actually a guy, advice on helping women achieve orgasm from a lesbian, and the lowdown on what erections really are.

Only a few weeks in, however, BastardLife seems to be running out of material. Boulton updates the new men’s magazine daily; almost everything is posted under his user name.  Most of the pieces are also written by Boulton despite a masthead that makes it seem that there are more contributors to this magazine. When an editor does jump in and contribute to the magazine, the pieces are usually short and dull.  You’ll get mostly narratives or first hand accounts of sexual experiences or of just being a bastard.  Like reminiscing with an old friend about how before you were married to your wife you cruised for older men. They usually read like a diary entry or a letter to Playboy.  Sometimes you’ll get a couple of interview pieces and Boulton always throws in a tip or two at the end.

The site seems more concerned with showcasing naughty photos. You might see something like a half naked woman leaning on a copy machine sniffing men’s underwear.  Sexy?  The site has a section called “Women We Love/Men We Love” that offers a photo of both sexes in provocative poses and then some witless caption.  One shows Victoria Beckham writhing on a car hood in front of her husband David; the caption reads, “… who feels Victoria Beckham is still a bit hot?”  Um, no one? Next question.

And let’s call it what it is: a glorified blog. You can search through the headlines or tags but there is no way to navigate the site unless you scroll back through the pages.  The content is labeled under feature sections that repeat throughout the blog, but there is no method to the madness on this site.  Feel free to write an email to Boulton or any of his other editors.  The masthead/contact list might be the only thing you can actually navigate through.

BastardLife thinks it’s helping men live the bastard lifestyle.  I suspect that real pansexual men will come to a different conclusion – namely, thanks for nothing.

– Cindia Gonzalez


Dude, where’s my cover story?



         Welcome to the world of man-gazines. A realm of testosterone-fueled words and images, designed to cater to every fancy of the straight guy. So you have trashy women, alcohol, men’s fashion, trashy women, sex, lifestyle, gadgets and trashy women, all under one roof. (Did I mention the trashy women?)

         There is no real difference between the international editions of GQ and GQ India – the Indian edit team has done a good job of adapting essential GQ values and style to the Indian demographic. Thus, GQ India delivers all that is expected and true to its name, does it like a gentleman. Which, literally translated, means that the women aren’t as trashy, and the only people who can afford the featured clothes and accessories are Middle Eastern oil barons and Bill Gates. For Indian Joe, the office clerk, GQ represents only aspirations.

         So there is MTV India’s newest hottie, VJ Mia, draped in a bed sheet dispensing sex advice, and there’s Charlize Theron, um, draped in a bed sheet, dispensing sex appeal. Then there is the titillating Chastity Fernandes, (a fictitious tease created to dole out sex advice from the perspective of an Indian female) draped in a sari, advocating sex in the same. There is a lot of general draping of females in gauzy material and surprise, surprise, lots of sex.

         Watches, designer underwear, rock music, and alcohol fill in the gaps, as men are taught both how to wear a suit and how not to get champagne on it. (Politics is conspicuous by its absence.) The magazine is basically a circle jerk of elitist Indian metrosexuals affirming their masculinity and fabulousness through guy talk, who’ve got together to announce their greatness to the world. In short, it’s a man magazine. And not half bad at that.

          Now, the cover has three men most Indian men want to be and three women most Indian men want to bed – a perfect setting for some stimulating conversation. Which is why you are sorely disappointed when you turn the pages excitedly to read the cover story, and all you find is five sentences wrapped around an elaborate photo shoot. Sure, there are models prancing around in the pool of a five star hotel, and men in white flashing their nipples (which can’t be too appropriate for a straight guy magazine, come to think of it.) But three quotes from three celebs maketh a cover story not. Where is the meat in the cover story, I ask the makers of GQ India. Where is the one-upmanship and light-hearted banter expected from three of the most desirable and influential Indian men? I expected more, and I feel let down. Bad man-gazine! Very bad!

          All I ask for is a better cover story the next time round (and $10,000 in cash, but that’s irrelevant here.) Also some politics, serious issues and a little depth, because even though men are many things, there is no need to portray them solely as sex-crazed, materialistic maniacs.

 —  Anuya Jakatdar 

Reading it for the Articles

I never had to steal Playboy from a convenience store when I was in junior high. After all, I grew up with the Internet.

My household went online in 1997. I was 12. Suddenly there was a godlike device in my home that could produce free nudity. It was a magical time to be alive.

My relationship with Playboy resembled my relationship with the sun; I didn’t look at it much, but I was glad it existed.

Even though I didn’t read it, I liked the idea of Playboy. The bunnies, the mansion, Hugh Hefner’s smoking jacket, the song “Centerfold” by the J. Geils Band.

So I felt distressed when I heard about Playboy’s financial woes. They can shut down Merrill Lynch, sell Budweiser to Belgium, and cancel TRL. But Playboy is an American institution, damn it.

The saddest part is that Playboy is an excellent magazine, even if you never look at the photographs. Yes, I’m talking about reading it for the articles.

Take the November issue, for example. In “The Playboy Forum,” political commentator Tavis Smiley discusses what Barack Obama’s candidacy has (and hasn’t) said about race relations in America.

Also in the Forum, a number of commentators suggest ways to increase voter turnout. Alexander Keysar of Harvard says we should reinstitute the draft, because it would tell voters “that history is something that can happen to them.” This is probably the worst idea I’ve ever heard, but it kept me reading.

Senior editor Chip Rowe’s feature, “The Hard Facts,” taught me everything I ever wanted to know, and quite a bit that I didn’t, about the human penis. This is the kind of thing you don’t get in Newsweek.

Playboy’s content is a charming mix of high and low culture. In addition to the meaty articles, this issue delivers news about the latest video games and the new James Bond flick. Then there are the silly party jokes, such as, “What do you call a woman who can suck a golf ball through a garden hose?”*

I admire Playboy’s dedication to printing short fiction. Vladimir Nabokov, Ian Fleming, and Ray Bradbury have all published in Playboy. I was thrilled when I saw the title of this month’s tale, “The Wraith,” by J. Robert Lennon. Not just fiction, but horror fiction! Sadly, Lennon’s prose sounds forced and the story gets too preachy. I still appreciate the effort.

None of this is radically different from the content of other men’s mags (GQ, Maxim, etc). What sets Playboy apart is that, if you somehow get bored with all these articles, you’re only a few pages from seeing a B-list celeb in the buff. Which is nice, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I hope Playboy can stay afloat. Even though I was never a regular reader, I might become one. $12 for a one-year subscription? A measly 12 bones to support a lasting symbol of American masculinity?

It would be my pleasure, Mr. Hefner.

—Nick Roberts


Men’s Vogue: Mixing Fashion and Politics

Think male fashion icons. Brad Pitt. Will Smith. David Beckham. George Clooney.

And Barack Obama? John McCain?!

Men’s Vogue strives to set the standard for what’s in, what’s hip, and what’s fashionable. But there’s nothing trendy about the October issue’s dip into politics. 

The red, white, and blue cover featuring Obama and the six-page spread on McCain are hardly fashion-worthy. Men’s Vogue decided to take a risk by mixing politics and fashion, but was it smart to start with the 2008 campaign?

Presidential races don’t swarm with fine couture and daring designs. Obama may the better looking of the two, hence him being on the cover, but he’s definitely not setting any fashion trends. Unless, his dull gray suit paired with a blue pin-striped tie are the new look for the fall.

McCain should consult Men’s Vogue for fashion advice, not be featured in it. It’s hard to imagine 35 to 54 year-olds seeking fashion inspiration from a 72-year-old politician’s closet that holds nothing but earth-toned suits and patriotic ties. 

According to Men’s Vogue, men who buy the magazine have a “passion for what’s best in life.” More than likely, politics don’t fit into that passion. “Barack’s Thrill Ride: Stowing Away on O-Force One” and “Tortured Hero: What Really Happened to McCain in Vietnam” will likely turn them off.

There must be meaning behind the magazine’s madness.

Maybe Obama strays from political jargon to give Men’s Vogue tips on staying chic while traveling, since he’s photographed while sitting on a plane.

Maybe the cover photos for Newsweek were accidently mixed up with ones for Men’s Vogue.

Unfortunately, neither is true.

In between Burberry and Tod’s ads sits McCain’s “The Greatest Story Never Told,” an account of his experience as a POW in Vietnam. Photographs of McCain lying in a hospital bed and pictures of the prison where he was held captive share spreads with male models selling bottles of cologne and fancy watches. McCain’s grueling tale shares the feature well with tips on looking stylish in a bomber jacket. Talk about distasteful.

What’s even less fashionable is Men’s Vogue playing favorites with the political candidates. Obama is photographed by Annie Leibowitz for the cover, looking more like a Hollywood star than a runner up for the presidential election. He has an eight page feature with photographs that are so large they bleed off the page. McCain’s story is a six-page front of the book piece with no fancy opening spread introducing his story.

The question for Men’s Vogue is: are you trying to squeeze politics into fashion or fashion into politics?

Either way you squeeze it, the combination is uncomfortable. Stick to what you do best: give fashion advice, preferably using stylish icons rather than lackluster politicians.

— Martina Uhlirova





Where Are The Real Gentlemen?

The October issue of GQ breaks one of the most important rules of magazine covers: attract readers by telling them what the issue is about. Instead, the strategy this month seems to have been: fill the issue with classy, good stuff, and then cover it with a trashy, boring image.

When GQ puts a woman on the cover, it’s usually done with a certain taste. In June 2007, Jessica Alba was featuring on the cover, dressed in a white bikini. She was sexy, without being provocative. But this month, the photo of Megan Fox, discovered with her role in the movie Transformer, looks more like a Maxim cover than a GQ one. She wears a small black bikini, her long black hair is covering her shoulders, she has heavy makeup on her eyes and her tongue is licking her upper teeth in a sexual way, her mouth half open. In this picture, Megan Fox is literally saying: “I’m all yours, baby.”

The cover story has the same look. The title is itself really explicit: “Megan Fox was a teenage lesbian! Plus other confessions from the lips of Hollywood’s new favorite temptress.” The pictures are trashy, without anything original: she’s licking a cherry while looking directly in the camera and caressing her lips with an ice cube melting or her chest… The article and his design are completely in contradiction with the magazine.

This article is following a guide of “How to be a well-dressed, well-mannered, well-spoken 21st century gentleman,” with 66 tips and rules. Men learn in this article how to form a tie dimple, how to polish their shoes, how to open a door to a feminist, how to keep their hair trimmed, and how to pull on a V-neck.
The readers will also find in this issue a great article on Oliver Stone’s controversial new film, W., an interview with Gordon Ramsay from the show Hell’s Kitchen, and the intelligent article “Empire of ice,” on a pipeline in Alaska. For all those articles, the design is neat, traditional, and classy. The photos or illustrations are artistic and professional.

GQ seems to have lost its identity with this issue. The cover story and design, inside the magazine as well as on the cover, assume that GQ‘s readers have forgotten what the G stands for. 

– Caroline Trudeau

Fashion Fit For a Man

An Oscar winner in Hollywood but a typical man in Spain, Javier Bardem was the focus of men’s fashion and style.  Photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Bardem had a paintbrush soaked in red paint in hand as he prepared for his cover shot for The New York Times Style Magazine.  T’s 2008 fall fashion issue for men featured Bardem in another light besides the lime light.  The interview conducted by Lynn Hirschberg gave a deeper look into Bardem’s personality and his thirst for characterizing his movie roles.

Bardem, the 2008 Oscar winning best supporting actor, was probably one of the best choices for the cover boy.  Instead of choosing an unrecognizable face, T chose an actor who recently blew away audiences and the movie industry in his role as “Chigurh” in the  Oscar winning film, “No Country for Old Men.” Hirschberg’s interview also includes Bardem’s thoughts on acting in a romantic comedy, which is outside the realm of his usual roles.  In addition, the actor talks about his childhood and the way his life feels the same even after his big break in the movie industry.

Since this is the men’s fall fashion issue, Bardem was clothed in the hottest jacket, shirt and trousers for fall without making the idea of fashion so overwhelming that an average man might cringe at the sight.  The fashion is there and the in-depth interview with Bardem is also present, making this feature a wise choice for its versatility.  Overall, the feature of this issue can attract a wide variety of men with different tastes in movies, personalities, style and fashion.

More than likely, some men are afraid to admit they care about their clothes and appearance, but this issue says, “it’s OK to care – read this magazine!” The overall of theme of the men’s fall fashion issue is balance.  There is a clear balance between fashion and masculinity, which makes T friendly to a general male audience.

T banks on using a familiar face for its men’s fall fashion issue. This issue of T could put other heavy hitter fashion magazines to shame by proving that a rugged face and flowing pages of masculine watches, designer boots and suits gets the job done just fine.

– Farah Pike

Esquire Sells Sizzle Sans Steak

Hearst’s Esquire means many things to many people, but sloppy is generally not one of them. That all changed with the September issue.

Depending on when one started picking up the magazine, readers tend to regard Esquire as either a literary magazine or a tony version of Maxim, but at its 1933 launch it was actually much closer to the latter.

The autumn 1933 cover – a graphic illustration of men frolicking lakeside between a canoe and pontoon plane – promises: “fiction, sports, humor, clothes, art, cartoons,” all for the rather steep newsstand price of 50 cents. This was the Great Depression, after all.

In subsequent years, the title vacillated between scantily clad babes and Dot Parker for prez. In the 1940s, Vargas gave the title a boost, essentially keeping the “men in nature” theme, but draping a chesty babe over the prop plane. Parker herself came aboard in the ‘50s to review books. Hemingway and Fitzgerald were original contributors.

By the 1960s, the times they were a’changing, and Esquire rolled with them, practically inventing New Journalism along the way with Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, and Gay Talese in its pages. On the literary front, Esquire closed out the decade by hiring Gordon Lish as fiction editor, who in turn built the careers of writers as diverse as Raymond Carver and Truman Capote.

Esquire was no slouch in the art department either. Art direction legend George Lois made his name at the title and Esquire even employed Grace Jones’ main squeeze, Jean-Paul Goode, as an art director for a time.

But by the 1970s, while everything was getting bigger, Esquire began to retreat. The magazine reverted to the standard 8½ by 11 cover leaving less breathing room, a problem which persists even now. While the title itself would probably protest, “I am big!  It’s the pictures that got small,” an era drew to a close.

Which brings us to September’s Tom Brady cover. The black and white, pin-striped Brady passes sartorial muster, but he’s boxed in by sloppy coverlines that look as if Art Director Darhil Crooks took a fat Sharpie to the page. It’s as ugly as Brady is handsome.

It also an almost willful hedging of bets – an Esquire tradition since Arnold Gingrich founded the title – as this month’s 75th anniversary cover is the much ballyhooed electronic edition, actually a limited run of 100,000 that includes what Esquire calls “e-ink,” a 10-inch L.E.D. square announcing “The 21st Century Begins Now.” also extended the 21st century treatment to one of its advertisers on the inside front cover with a two-page, blinking spread for Ford.

Totally Tagged Tommy

Totally Tagged Tommy


It must look better than the ghetto Lascaux they made of September’s edition. Inside, Esquire honch David Granger blathers on incessantly about steak, mentioning neither the Brady cover or the shape of things to come. But like Hitchcock, while Granger dollys back to catch a glimpse of the future, Esquire readers zoom in on this crowded house of a cover and experience vertigo.

–Tony Phillips