City Journal puts men’s magazines under the microscope, and doesn’t like what it sees:

In a tough media environment, men’s magazines are suffering more than most. Some—notably, Playboy and Esquire—appear to have decided that appealing primarily to men is no longer the best way forward.

Yeah, good luck with that, assholes, and watch your readership (and business) disappear.  Good-bye and good riddance.

Come to think of it, this humble website  offers more to men than any of the glossy so-called “men’s” magazines.  On these electronic pages can be found pictorials of topics wanted by men:  guns, cars, women, food, booze and articles including straightforward political discussion, cultural content — such as the occasional review of movies, music and fine art — and even historical analysis, all on a daily (not monthly or quarterly) basis.  Oh, and no ads.

And it’s free, except for voluntary contributions (thankee).


  1. Magazines? People still read those?

    Last time I went to the dentist, nobody had even touched the magazines on the table. They were all looking at their phones (as was I.)

    If I want to read opinions, or articles, the internet has what I need.

    And if I want to look at tittys, well, the internet has that covered too. Um, at least that’s what I hear….

    But, this brings up something that I’ve been thinking about for years.

    What I’ve always found fascinating is the “aspirational” nature of “men’s magazines” like Playboy.

    Here’s what I mean: If you look at an issue of Playboy from, let’s say the mid 1980’s (which was probably the last time I saw one) you would see the following:

    * Articles about ‘serious’ political and social subjects of the day
    * Interviews with well known musicians, politicians, actors, and other people highly visible in pop culture
    * Articles and “advice” for people who lead very active and “libertine” sex lives (hookups, affairs, swinging, group sex, kink, etc.)
    * Reviews of very expensive men’s fashion, expensive luxury or sports cars, high-end sporting gear
    * Reviews and recommendations on vacation and travel in exotic (and expensive) locales.
    * A generally liberal/libertarian political outlook especially on social issues
    * And of course, naked women in ‘classy’ poses.
    (and if you subtract the nekkid girls and you pretty much have Esquire or GQ.)

    If you were to take the magazine at its most literal, you would “assume” that the “average reader” was:

    * A young (mid 20’s to mid 30’s) professional white male
    * A well educated and sophisticated city-dweller with a professional career (business/law/sales/stocks and bonds, etc.)
    * Had considerable disposable income for things like Rolex watches, Porsche’s, Savile Row suits and skiing vacations in Switzerland
    * Was single with a very active sex life, multiple partners, and a very open minded attitude towards sex
    * Was not religious at all and generally held religion in very low esteem
    * Was active and athletic

    But the funny thing is, if you looked at the actual demographics of people who subscribed or bought the magazine off the stand, they were anything but. For the most part they were:

    * Blue collar workers, ranging in age from their early 20s to their 50’s, working in trades, police/military or similar professions
    * Married, with children, and had likely had no more than 3 or 4 sex partners in their whole life
    * Had little disposable income (for the same price as that Savile Row suit they could fix the broken water heater or put a new transmission in the Family Truckster)
    * Had little formal education beyond high school
    * Rarely traveled outside the US
    * Lived in a small or medium-sized city or town in the interior of the US
    * Not particularly athletic

    So why, then, would they buy this magazine that seems to cater to a completely different kind of person? Because the magazine is, in essence, feeding a fantasy.

    The “average reader” of adult magazines, then, is not a sophisticated urban professional with an appetite for Italian suits, Swedish lingerie models and German sports cars. Rather, he’s a blue-collar working schlub who fantasizes that he’s that sophisticated dude with the fast car and the hot girlfriend.

    Really, I think it’s a testament to the way Hugh Hefner tapped into that fantasy world that Playboy stayed as successful as it did for as long as it did.

    1. Very insightful.

      I’m reminded of a scene from the movie The Prestige where Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are tasked with figuring out the trick behind an Asian man’s big illusion. They’re outside watching the Asian magician get into his carriage and Bale points out “that’s the trick right there” indicating that the man’s whole persona was an act, that he wasn’t as feeble as he let on.

      If your analysis is correct (and I believe it is), then part of what really sold Playboy was that Hefner lived the fantasy life he sold in his magazine.

      1. Of course, lots of magazines have that ‘aspirational’ characteristic. Look at the likes of Road and Track or Car and Driver: “We compare the top super cars of the world.” “Ferrari and Lamborghini go Head to Head”

        You really think average reader Joe Nebbish who drives a 7 year old Hyundai is ever going to be in a position to choose between a Lamborghini and a Ferrari? No, but the magazine flatters him that he is and as long as it does, he’ll keep reading it.

    2. When I was in college, I considered journalism as a career path. I enjoyed my journalism classes, but I’m no whore for anyone, and one brief internship disillusioned me of that path.

      Everyone in the program wanted to write for Playboy. It was considered very good journalism, and Playboy only hired the best writers. It was a surprise to me, when we were assigned to read articles from that notorious catalog of naked women. But truly, the reporting and writing were top notch.

      I began a comparative study of print magazines in several categories, and gave a presentation on magazines as soft porn. If you review any article or ad in Cosmo or Glamour or Esquire or FHM (rest in peace…is that one still around?), the only difference is whether the models are clothed or not. I was a naive frosh, I know this isn’t blowing anyone’s skirts. It was an interesting project.

Comments are closed.