The editors of Cargo, “the new buyers’ guide for men,” have a problem on their hands. How do they address their gay readers, who clearly are a huge (guaranteed) potential segment of their readership? Over the weekend I had an opportunity to consume the premiere issue, and the answer to the question is, they don’t. However, I can’t remember the last time a magazine with a sexy male model on the cover spoke to me in a voice that made me feel so culturally excluded from its contents. It’s strange these days to see a magazine that skews so gay visually yet from all indications blatantly shuns that segment of its readership.
Cargo may think itself a “metrosexual” magazine but it’s really more like a closet case. Every three pages it throws out another survey about what women really want their men to do. Sure, Details and GQ have traditionally toted their beards to the party, but in recent years have copped to the (do I have to say it again?) metrosexual attitudes into which the world has eased. Who is buying Cargo? Presumably, it’s gay men and straight men in touch enough with themselves that they would buy a magazine about shopping. I certainly don’t think the hetero Road & Track-purchasing “Nascar Dad” is going to spot the clean-cut, fresh-faced male model on the cover and suddenly fancy himself a chest-shaver or an eyebrow-plucker. If anything, he’ll be reaching for the T&A of Maxim, which at least knows who its readers are.
If the creators of Cargo really thought their readers were those clueless straight guys, they would have put Pam Anderson in a bikini on the cover with a Handspring Treo peeping out of her cleavage, no? So is it that they know who their readers are, but coming out of the gate don’t want to seem too homo-oriented to their advertisers? It’s not until you reach page 184 (out of 204), a room-improvement feature by Thom Filicia from Queer Eye, that you realize the queers have been relegated (literally) to the back of the bus. It becomes even more apparent when you notice that this is the only article entirely omitted from the Table of Contents. [insert shrill gay activist here] Shame Cargo, shame!
I realize the heterosexual magazine-buying market is vast compared to the gay one. The crossover potential is enormous in both directions for a magazine of this type. But would it hurt to relax the restrictions on the audience a little and assume that maybe a huge portion of the men buying Cargo might have boyfriends instead of girlfriends? Pay more attention and my girlfriends and I might even subscribe.