Think Atlanta’s gay media scene hasn’t seen enough twists and turns in the last five months? Another one unfolds later this week when a new LGBT magazine arrives.
On Thursday, the latest entrant into the now-crowded field of LGBT publications is scheduled to debut. Fenuxe magazine will hit the streets with aggressive goals, promising 20,000 copies of its upscale biweekly magazine and a readership of 70,000 people – both numbers larger than any LGBT print product in Atlanta has enjoyed for years.
“We feel like even when you do have Facebook and blogs and everything online, there is still a demand for something tactile, something that people can have in their hands and walk around with or sit down and enjoy,” says William Duffee-Braun (top photo left), the magazine’s editor-in-chief. “We want to produce a magazine that is small in scale and full of knowledge and fun facts and information that people will have fun reading and enjoy.”
Since Window Media went bankrupt last November, shuttering Southern Voice and David magazine, Atlanta’s gay media landscape has been a Wild West of sorts. It went from four print publications in early November (SoVo, David, Gaydar, Pocket Rocket) to two after the closures. In December, the count stood briefly at three (Pocket Rocket, Gaydar, Atlanta Free Press). With the launch of Fenuxe on April 22, the count climbs to five (Pocket Rocket, David, Fenuxe, Southern Voice, GA Voice).
Fenuxe plays on the mythical bird that rises from its own ashes as well as Atlanta’s own history – the city’s crest includes a phoenix – but the title is also an acronym for the magazine’s promise of high-end content: fashion, events and entertainment, nightlife, urban culture, x-plore (travel) and eats.
Marketing materials are blunt: “Fenuxe magazine is the rebirth of LGBT media in Atlanta.” But the magazine is the same size as David, which experienced its own rebirth under new owners last month, and offers similar full-color, glossy pages found in that weekly nightlife guide. But Duffee-Braun says the rise of Fenuxe isn’t intended to fly in the face of David or other LGBT publications that have surfaced since Window Media’s crash last year.
“We are in no way in competition with David magazine. The reason the size works is that people can grab it and take with. The digest size is wonderful. We do have a lot of the same readers, because David and Fenuxe are both for the LGBT community in Atlanta, but beyond that I don’t see a lot of similarities,” he says.
Duffee-Braun is launching the magazine with a small fulltime staff: His partner, Tyler Calkins (top photo right), is the publisher and owner of TW Media Group, the pub’s parent company. They are joined by journalist Patrick Saunders, who most recently blogged about LGBT issues for Creative Loafing, and a graphic designer, Chris Barker, who is responsible for the glossy’s look and feel.
Even with ambitious goals, they don’t need a reminder of how a large staff and overhead costs can doom a publication during a recession – they can walk outside and see the former home of Southern Voice and David. The Fenuxe office is on the same Zonolite Road that SoVo called home for most of its pre-bankruptcy history.
“There are four of us fulltime, with contributing writers, photographers, stylists and graphic designers,” Duffee-Braun says. “People are very excited about the publication and have reached out to help.”
Fenuxe grew out of an idea to create a gay publication with the same feel of the magazines Duffee-Braun and Calkins enjoy reading, including VMAN and W. Both men consider themselves entrepreneurs, but neither comes to Fenuxe with publishing experience. But one (Duffee-Braun) brings sales experience, while the other (Calkins) has a background with websites. (The Fenuxe website is live, though it offers only the basics about the magazine before its launch.)
“We do not have publishing backgrounds, but we have employed a writer that has been in the industry for a long time and employed a graphic designer. With the combination of backgrounds, we’ve been able to pull things together. We have a good sense of what the community wants,” Duffee-Braun says.
The magazine looks to be advertiser friendly. Duffee-Braun and marketing materials pitch it, in part, as a guide for readers to find gay-friendly and LGBT-owned businesses and services. Advertisers can even purchase full-page and half-page stories in the magazine, though Duffee-Braun says those pieces will be distinctly marked to separate them from content created by the magazine and its contributors, which follows an accepted practice in the larger magazine industry.
“We know now that in 2010 there are many corporations that support the LGBT community. We know that. But what we don’t know is where do I go to see a dentist, to talk to a shrink, to go to the doctor, to get plastic surgery. What local businesses support me and what businesses can I support,” he says.
Duffee-Braun received an early lesson in publishing as the staff moved closer to shipping their debut issue to the printer last week. The printer he and the staff worked with for weeks suddenly closed its doors, leaving them scrambling to locate a new one as their Thursday launch approached.
“It was a catastrophe for about 24 hours and then after that, it was right on target,” he says. “Everything has turned out to be so beautiful. We started it at step one and everything is unfolding.”