Out Magazine Has a Proposition for You

Audience Participation Alert!

Out_november_1After I posted the cover of Out magazine’s new redesign, there was of course a flurry of opinion (much of it negative, although there were a few favorable comments), which prompted editor-in-chief Aaron Hicklin to contact us. Since many seem to be judging a book by its cover, he’d like to enlist some of the critics out there to offer feedback on the new magazine. From Mr. Hicklin:

We’re happy the new design has provoked comment, negative and positive, but we’d rather harness your opinions in a methodical way to help us better appreciate what readers want out of a gay magazine. For those who haven’t looked at Out in a while, the redesign is the end process in a three-stage overhaul that has included beefing up fashion, bringing in new columnists and reporters, and generally broadening the scope of the magazine. We invite readers of Towleroad to put their brains where their mouths are, and spend time with the magazine over the next six months, letting us know what they love, hate, or feel indifferent to.

The first 50 readers who send their address and email will receive a free six month subscription, with the caveat that Out will be asking for your feedback each month. Aaron promises that it will be nothing too arduous!

THE LIMIT HAS BEEN REACHED!!!!! Thanks for responding.

Wow, you guys are fast. Sorry to those who didn’t make it in time. Aaron will be contacting those of you who did!!!


  1. dave says

    I would just say by the cover, the magazine looks boring and homo(ha)genized.

    The last thing homos needs is a magazine that is vapid and distorted. What about art, literature, people, instead of movie-stars, homo-friendly-feel-good-straight-people, and fashion/bars/technofuckmemusic and all the other stuff that I expect?

    Where are the fags who can read books, and write essays, and critique culture, and understand why all homos are inherent feminists and understand the mind/prick problem?

  2. dc-20008 says

    I mean no disrepect to OUT or it’s editors–I publish medical journals and know from publishing–but this magazine looks like all the others. Pretty boy on the cover and some funky type.

    Their design team should ask readers “Why should I read this one?”

  3. me says

    This is going to sound really mean, and I don’t mean it that way, but my first reaction to this post was that I wouldn’t want to get OUT Magazine even for free. I guess they have a tougher job than they think, for people like me. The internet gives me all the stuff I need, really.

  4. Kenne says

    I agree that the Logo doesn’t work for me, and I have to admit that I haven’t read Out Magazine in a long time, which means I can’t comment on their content.

    But, what disturbs or bothers me most is the comment from Mr. Hicklin that one of the phases of the overhaul is beefing up fashion. I for one could care less what current fashion is. Fashion is nothing but merchandisers paying big money to the magazines to try and convince me that I’ll look hot as long as I spend $1,000 for a pair of brand name shoes. It doesn’t work because if I had $1,000 to spare, I sure as heck wouldn’t be spending it on a pair of shoes. I’m not saying that fashion has NO place in a gay mag, but if fashion is going to play a big role in the future of Out Magaizine, then I won’t be picking up the magazine.

    I want to see interviews and articles about things that really, truly matter.

  5. mp says

    Nice try. I let my subscription expire about two and half years ago and I am STILL getting unwanted issues (circulation inflation, much?). Like I said yesterday, OUT comes across as just another glossy magazine and I wouldn’t say that it does any better job of being gay than GQ or Details, so why should homos read it? We didn’t have the internet back when those lesbians were editing OUT, and somehow back then the magazine seemed somewhat iconic for the community. Now…not so much.

    Best of luck to Aaron and crew, though. I do like OUT Traveler, so I hope those guys intend to keep that insert.

  6. Mark says

    I appreciate Aaron’s desire to improve the magazine, but he needs to keep trying. The “t” in the new logo looks like the place where my dishwasher hooks up. Also, i really dislike white type on a dark background (hello, Genre). I am a subscriber and I’m all for making improvements. You can start with never again hiring the writer of the piece on the Carribean gay bashing. He gave the traumatized, brain damaged victim ONE DAY to respond to a message and then wrote the story without his input, apparently getting alot of the facts wrong. You can certainly do better.

  7. Brian says

    Yeah I agree… I am a current subscriber (although I think this past issue was my last). I’ve been happy with about 40-50% of the articles, while the rest have been sophomoric fluff. And while I don’t mind a fashion spread, I’m not interested in having fashion articles that tell me I’ll only be hot if I wear this oufit that costs 2500 bucks.

    Fashion articles would be more interesting if they showcased new (and wearable) designers, or if they provided tips on how to highlight or de-emphasize various physical attributes. Make it something I can use, not just a bunch of 19 year old models showing off their abs. That makes for pretty pictures, but I’m not paying money for it when I can access similar (and often higher quality) content on line.

  8. Paul says

    MP, I agree. I used to freelance at Out when Sarah Petit was editor and it was much more substantial than what it became after her unceremonious departure.

  9. Butch Fries says

    Remember the line in the old Absolutely Fabulous series where Patsy is told that the magazine needs some decisions about that month’s cover and she responds, “oh, what do they need to know? A model, in makeup, with a vacant look on her face.” Seriously, thinking that all gays are devoted to fashion is just as stereotyped as what I face living here in the Colorado high country. I’m into the outdoors and exercise and “fashion” is a clean flannel shirt. I don’t see any reason to read it.

  10. chuck says

    Relax people. It’s only a magazine and actually, it’s been getting better and better the last few months. I’ve been surprised that there were actually ARTICLES to read. Go figure. I know we Americans hate change but don’t complain til you try a couple issues. As for the cover, that’s the European style. I think it’s nice that it isn’t all cluttered with “Buy me Buy me” headlines.

  11. Br!on says

    Biggest problem is the continued lack of any gay coverage in a gay magazine. Starting with the front cover. Seriously if I see one more gay magazine with Paris, Jude Law or any other straight person posing I am going to scream.

    Who are you people? There are millions of talented, diverse beautiful people out there that need pushing and praising that are GAY! The first thing OUT needs to do is put OUT people on their cover no matter how famous or pretty every month. That would maybe start a process that has so been lost in the gay community. That of our incredible strides, diversity and difference from the mainstream.

  12. j.goldfarb says

    Any gay fucking magazine called “out” that puts a straight guy on the cover and calls it something “new” is full of shit.
    no if’s, ands or free scripts is going to turn that around. I can look at the cover of this rag and smell the perfume ads that must be insided. probably some guy with a ripped t shirt. Condoms with smiley faces.


    j. goldfarb

  13. says

    I already subscribe to Out. It’s getting better. But I’m still holding a grudge after that Paris Hilton cover (c’mon! PARIS HILTON?!) haha.

    Like I said, nevermind the bells and whistles. As Clinton might say, “It’s the content, stupid.” :-)

  14. says

    As it appears I won’t be getting my free issues, this remains the last venue to comment on the “new” Out.
    It’s wonderful the editor has taken an interest in this blogs comments, though by its very nature, these comments are from people who read blogs, not necessarily magazines. Gay magazines in particular struggle against the rising tide of information and imagery available on the Internet. They survive through advertising dollars based on circulation, which has become tricky business when you realize that Out has a 150,000 readership, which is often one days hits on a popular blog. A redesign, by its very nature is conjured up to create buzz, remind the world that your product still exists and to provide the editor with a magazine that he can claim as his own (though hint: a redesign is usually the work of an art director, at least visually).
    Having not seen anything other than the cover, one can only comment on that and seeing yet another straight actor on the cover suggests the legacy of Brendon Lemon continues, which is cetainly not what Mr Goff envisioned fourteen years ago. To call this cover “European” seems ironic, it’s not. It’s a cleaned up, simply photographed cover with fewer coverlines, though the cover lines seem far less compelling than usual. “Oooh James!” seems slighly droolish, and what relevance Gin as a better martini has to do with anything in my life seems at best obscure. Fashion in gay magazines has always been problematic–most models will pose but with the caveat that they needn’t touch one another in anyway suggesting that they are indeed, gay. Which usually begs the question: what makes it a gay fashion spread? Which also brings to mind the question, why a straight model-turned-actor on the cover of a gay magazine? It’s safe certainly, and safe is something most gay magazines must abide by—the advertisers, including Calvin Klein don’t want to be associated with anything too gay (though their ads can possess as much innuendo as is legally permitted). So, here is my advice to Mr Hicklin: Don’t play safe, push boundaries. And as pleasant as it might be to invite readers comments, a magazine is a vision, and the best magazines are never created by committees. Stop with the straight actors on covers unless they have something pertinent to say about the gay community, good or bad. There are enough hot men, gay men, in this world who could be cover models, (though certainly not cover material, the Mickey Rourke comments would be a very interesting interview, and what in the hell happened to his face?).

  15. lexxicuss says

    Wow, what a day NOT to stay in bed with a head cold. But i’ll happily pick this up at the newstand for a few months and then decide on another subscription. I’m actually one of those who’ll welcome the Publisher and Editors taking a stab at making Out more relevant to today’s market. Congrats on this one guys. It been sorely needed.

  16. lexxicuss says

    Wow, what a day NOT to stay in bed with a head cold. But i’ll happily pick this up at the newstand for a few months and then decide on another subscription. I’m actually one of those who’ll welcome the Publisher and Editors taking a stab at making Out more relevant to today’s market. Congrats on this one guys. It’s been sorely needed.

  17. Daniel says

    I found the previous issue (with Jake Shears) on the cover and have to say that the magazine was much better than it was the last time I read it. The article on homophobia in Poland was quite interesting and the interview with Shears was good. It certainly will encourage me to pick up the next few issues and check it out. I don’t care for the fashion spreads–I know they’re aimed at the younger crowd (I’m in my late 30s and will not be one of those old men desperately trying to look young), and fashion doesn’t neccessarily interest me anyway–maybe if they interviewed the designers and creative people. I would like to see less smart-ass little columns and more real reviews and interviews with people other than “celebrities”. There are a lot of gay artists, politicians, business people, actors, singers, dancers etc… who I would like to hear about (even if I don’t like what they say). On the whole though, the issue was encouraging. I’ll look into the next, even if I don’t want to encourage them putting straight male models or himbo actors on the cover.

  18. not a fashion whore says

    I am surprised, truly surprised by the anti-fashion stand in many of the comments posted. Fags who are not into fashion?! Shocking. Could it be that readers of Towleroad tend to be older/more “mature”, and therefore less interested in the latest threads and trends?

    But seriously, with the overload of information/data available on the internet which is moreover constantly updated 24/7, print magazines are the last place I’ll go for news/content. It follows that the only compelling reason why I would pick up a print magazine is so that I could look at gorgeous, full-pages photos and visuals, and fashion spreads with pretty boys cartainly fall into this category.

    So I’ll say, bring on the fashions and the photos, but please make them interesting and provocative. I might even tear ’em off and put ’em up on the wall.

  19. Eric says

    It’s laughable how irate and crazy people get over this topic. It’s a MAGAZINE, people. Crying about the sad state of gay culture, wondering where the gays who read books are, blah blah blah, and somehow blaming OUT for it? Get a life. The magazine has had some truly terrible phases, but I really dig where it’s at now. Like bad TV, if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

  20. resurrect says

    Amazing. I’m struck by not only the level of incisive commentary above, but the desire – or even hunger – for a magazine to truly have meaning for gay (however you want to take that term) people. Blog readers – towleroad at the high pitched end – are probably still more culturally aware and demanding than the broader market – and yes, even the broad gay market.
    I actually still have a few old OUT issues – all from the tenure of James Collard (the only editor that I ever saw acknowledge “Marxism Today” in a CV) on his mission to bring sexual difference into the 21st century. One example – the Sept. 1998 “Time For Love” issue featured Scott Heim; Andrew Sullivan; Mark Doty; Mike Albo; Dorothy Allison; Quentin Crisp & art from Ross Bleckner; Jack Pierson; Nan Goldin & Mark Todd. And yes – it had 32 pages of Fall Fashion.
    What makes a great gay magazine? Like any magazine – or for that matter, cultural artifact – it has to have a point of view. Something that gives a “take” on the world and how to make your way through it – for this month at least. “After Dark” had it — “My Comrade” had it — and “Butt” has it. The recent inflection of OUT lacks a point of view. Perhaps getting one – and making it count – is one way to build back a base of readers for something that matters.
    ps. “towleroad” rox.

  21. Devon says

    Free subscriptions are fine, but we don’t need to be talked down to. For one thing, however harsh, these comments are gold for Hicklin — direct feedback from the audience OUT is trying to reach. “We invite readers of Towleroad to put their brains where their mouths are.” I read this as saying that previous comments were “brainless mouthing off.” Also, if you’re going to give away 6 free magazines (which is really nothing) in exchange for valuable feedback, why be stingy? Give them to everyone on this blog who wants one! Or at least a few hundred. Priceless feedback. You’re welcome, Aaron.

  22. BaoPhac Do says

    I read the first Out magazine when it was given out at the 1993 March On Washington. It was new and exciting then, a good mix of Advocate news and 10 percent sillyness and unabashedly GAY.

    I subscribed to it for a couple of years then when it became Genre+ I dropped it. They kept sending it to me for 2 more years but after the founding editors got pushed out it was no longer different enough from everything else out there to warrant my time.

    Once a year I would pick up a copy if the cover promises something quirky but most of the time it’s just a 1 page of text and 5 pages of pictures. Details has more text that that! I don’t know why they bother to make a separate magazine.

    These days I read Attitude from England (still gay and irreverent) and PREFmag from France (what Tetu was in their first year).

  23. dc-20008 says

    I like the comment from the guy above who said something about needing a $1500 outfit to be fabulous.

    My friends and I are around 40 +/- and makes lots of money and have never ever bought an outfit for $1500. We have houses, 2nd houses, expensive cars, and we travel in the US and internationally. We eat out, we drink…and we drink. How about some articles about stuff that guys over 25 are intersted in as well??

  24. Toby says

    You gotta love all these people bitching about fashion, as if OUt was forcing them to buy $1,500 suits — I see fashion as way of looking at cute guys, the more the better, but I have read brilliant commentaries by Mike Albo and Mark Simpson in recent issues of OUT, and it seems a lot of the posters here haven’t read the magazine to be in a position to judge how smart or dumb it is.

  25. says

    I haven’t seen the redesign, but I have really not liked the direction the new editor has taken the magazine’s editorial. The articles and columns suck, and the writing has really devolved. Too bad.

  26. Daniel says

    Toby, I have nothing against cute guys–and if that’s all you want in a magazine then buy it. But there a lot of magazines that offer cute guys and with the internet I can see cute guys whenever I want–there are cute guys coming out of my ears. If Out is trying to expand its audience (which is what it seems to want to do) cute guys aren’t enough. They’ve got to up the intelligence quotient. And it’s not that I’m againest fashion photos, but again, if I want photos I can get them in a lot of other places. If Out wants me to buy–or better yet subscribe to their magazine it has to give me more than cute guys and fashion. I want to be able to spend more than 3 minutes reading it. The few magazines I subscribe to now (The New Yorker, even Vanity Fair) give me hours of reading pleasure. I’m not going to pay four or five dollars for a few minutes of reading.

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