New mag dishes the real dirt for young teen guys

September 04, 1991|By Paula Monarez | Paula Monarez,Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES - Hey fella, read any good magazines lately?

Yeah, you with the paper bag over your brain and the epoxy glue holding your gym shorts together. An over-12, under-19 kind of guy. You're the new target audience for a hip, slick, in-your-face magazine that tells you what's what when it comes to women, dating, current events, sports and when to take a shower.

Interested?

The publishers of Dirt hope that you are.

So does the editor, Mark Lewman, a San Pedro cutting-edge kind of guy who thinks male teens have been bored, ignored and ... well, whatever.

So, you're thinking, like does this magazine have centerfolds of babes you can nail to your bedroom wall?

Forget it, pal.

"This isn't Teen Beat magazine," said Lewman, 23. "You're not going to find any of those pullout posters people hang up on their walls and drool over. This magazine has some meat."

We're talking social issues like gangs, AIDS, rape. But wait, it's not all serious, "60 Minutes" kind of garbage.

This magazine will show you how to dress, how to talk to young women, when to change clothes and what to say and wear on the first date. It also will deal with what you're into, like sports, electronics and computers.

But what really makes Dirt fresh is that it's geared to an audience no one has ever attempted to attract males under 21, said Jim Guthrie, executive vice president of marketing for the Magazine Publishers of America.

"There aren't any magazines for young men in the 13-to-19 age bracket," Guthrie said. "Sure, there are magazines that teen-age guys read, but they tend not to be edited for their age or gender. This magazine is being targeted directly at them."

By now you're thinking, "Hey, this idea sounds familiar." But of course, dude. Dirt is the male version of Sassy, a popular magazine for teen-age girls with a reputation for dealing with tough issues, like homelessness, racism and AIDS. Last year, Sassy was a finalist for general excellence in the National Magazine Awards.

"Dirt is similar, but we are going to be talking to the guys," Lewman said.

The 40-page magazine, is written by a young staff no one is over 27 and it speaks to its readers in their own language, Lewman said.

"It wasn't that long ago that we were that age," Lewman said. "We know what they like and we know how they think because we've been there."

Just check out how they came up with the magazine's name.

"We asked a kid on the street one day what he would name a magazine if he owned it and it was all about him," Lewman said. "He said, 'Dirt.' We liked it."

Right now, Lewman and his partners, Andy Jenkins, who is the art director, and Spike Jonze, the photography editor, do most of the work out of their homes in Los Angeles.

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