The new Genre falls victim to something that plagues a lot of people these days—looks great but kind of empty inside. I don't want to unfairly trash something that obviously took a lot of effort, but my honest opinion is that it's got a terrific newsstand cover, but one that is a clear knock-off of Men's Health...which is weird in that new EIC Neal Boulton was once EIC at Men's Fitness, which got into hot water for knocking off Men's Health. (Boulton was not EIC of Men's Fitness at that time.)
I know from firsthand experience that magazines shamelessly copy other, more inspired (or more upwardly mobile) magazines' cover designs and interiors, but I think the strategy here—to turn Genre into a sort of fitness magazine that makes space for gay-lifestyle elements, is not a blueprint for triumph. I could be wrong, and I respect their risk-taking, but my thought is that gay men who are fitness buffs read fitness magazines and will not need a gay fitness magazine to add to the pile. Rather, what would lead a gay man to buy Genre would be a desire for an all-around, full-service gay-lifestyle read. We'll know soon enough if I'm right or wrong. We already know I'm not fitness maven.
Boulton was the source of a minor outcry (what's that, a whimper?) when he was announced as the new Chris Ciompi, since his status as a gay man was challenged. Bizarrely, a whimper also went up when Out's latest EIC, Aaron Hicklin, was said to be straight. He's not, and neither is Boulton, who is something even worse than not gay...he's post-gay. His editor's letter really turned me off, sorry to say. Isn't "post-gay" terribly 1999? I know that definitions are for old men like me (38), but post-gay counts as a definition. If you're truly without labels, you wouldn't even waste your brain cells on arguing that you're post-gay...and you damn sure would not be reading Genre.
Along with some post-gay gobbledygook, Boulton offers some strange, macho chest-beating:
"I'm gay—but I'm an American. And a damn proud one, too—one without the time for labels that have baggage...
"Labels aside, like any American, I like what Americans like.
"I like a hot car (actually, in my case, a hot motorcycle); I want to have a hot body (so I train at a boxing gym where I may not be hot, but I am working on it); and I want a walk-in closet full of hot clothes to put on that body (sadly, I live in Manhattan, so, the walk-in part is still only a fantasy). And sex. Can anyone ever really get enough?"
I've had enough. Look, I don't envy anyone the task of attempting to revitalize an ink-on-paper magazine—let alone a gay one!—in 2007-going-on-2008, so I'll hold back (besides, this dude knows how to box 'n' shit), but I really feel that an editorial letter with a bit more self-deprecation or at least humor would be more winning. This slop reads like "GREED IS GOOD!" except "greed" is code for "sucking a cock hanging out of a pair of pants no one outside a metropolitan area could ever, ever, ever afford" and "good" is code for "all you should ever hope for and screw any faggots who tell you otherwise."
I just don't think labeling is Boulton's root problem. Or rather, if "American" is the only label you feel you share with your readers, you might be working in the wrong genre.
I will say this for the new Genre—it has a beautiful, clean design (reminds me of Cargo, which of course died young, stayed prett-ay) and Boulton has assembled top-notch photographers.
Leather so hot the cows were proud to give it up.
"Leathermen" is badly titled but assertively shot by Rick Day, and not one of the leather goods looks silly or International Male-ish.
The cover story, much more creatively entitled "[short stories]," is also by Day—not sure what it is by night, but it's extremely sexy and exceptionally persuasive. It's written by an ex-roommate of mine, so I'll leave the text alone (it's good).
So the fash is good, the health is dominant—but the rest feels like filler. And I just hate that G Man feature, highlighting (I'm sure perfectly nice) guys from around the nation. It's a feature that wants to be a personals section and isn't. I think it's intended to be a nod to the small-town gays who think that New York and L.A. and San Francisco gays think we're all that (we do, shame on us). Good instinct (oops, that's another gay title) to counter those thoughts, but there must be a better solution.
I wish the staff well and will keep an eye out—you should pardon the expression—for the next installment.