Reading the magazine market

Kevin Cowherd

July 15, 1992|By Kevin Cowherd

Conventional wisdom has it that the magazine market is glutted, but we feel Modern Neurotic will find its niche and turn into a money-maker in no time.

The thinking here is: Millions of folks experience symptoms of anxiety due to unconscious conflict.

Why not give them their own magazine? Why not give them a voice -- and not the little voice that wakes them at 3 in the morning and tells them to go downstairs and check the gas jets again.

Our premiere issue was originally scheduled to feature a cover photo of a small, nervous-looking man staring into an open closet and confronting a huge, amorphous cloud labeled "Our Fears."

Now, in a move our marketing people admit panders directly to America's preoccupation with celebrities, Madonna will tease our cover story: "This Summer's 10 Hottest Phobias!"

(Topping the list, oddly enough, is the fear of having one's hair cut, which many mental health professionals say was triggered by the especially horrid haircuts worn by independent presidential candidate Ross Perot and Irish raving loon Sinead O'Conner.)

Other features include "We Rate The 25 Best Outpatient Programs!" and "Do It Or I'll Kill You: A Guide To Self-Assertiveness."

Future issues will include a special section for obsessive-compulsives ("Repeated Hand-Washing: How Much Is Enough?") and the chronically nervous ("Make Your Free-Floating Anxiety Work For You!") along with Dr. L. L. Leakey's popular column "I'm OK, You're In An Avoidance Mode."

While Modern Neurotic has of necessity dominated the bulk of our attention, we also have high hopes for Today's Convict: The Magazine for the Incarcerated, which has done very well with focus groups.

Studies show that a major complaint of prison inmates -- right after "not enough 50-pound barbells" and "biggest, meanest psychos always hog TV" -- is "lack of relevant reading material."

Obviously, inmates have an inordinate amount of free (maybe "unscheduled" is the better word) time on their hands.

Instead of fashioning dangerous shivs from cafeteria spoons, digging escape tunnels and fantasizing about the overweight woman with the faint mustache who works in the warden's office, we hope they'll turn to our magazine for entertainment.

Those who pick up the September issue (with John Gotti on the cover) should enjoy "Mike Tyson's New Cellmate!"

It's a riveting profile of small-time Indiana safecracker Otis Mills, who reveals, among other things, that the ex-heavyweight champ sleeps in a clingy negligee and is thinking seriously of having a sex-change operation.

Interviews with celebrity inmates such as Ivan Boesky, ex-spy Jonathan Pollard and "Son of Sam" David Berkowitz will appear each month, along with practical information on prison life ("Hacksaws embedded in Birthday Cakes -- Why The Old Tricks Sometimes Work Best!").

Finally, we are pleased to announce the launch of Spare Change, which we hope will become the publication of choice for today's big-city panhandler.

Chock full of tips for the streetwise ("Aggressive or Meek: Which Approach Works Best?"), it will also feature a monthly advice column ("Ask Raheem") as well as "Omaha Red's Top 10 Wines for the Budget-Conscious!"

Unfortunately, the outlook is not so sunny for a number of our other publications, such as Salad Bar Enthusiast, which we had hoped would ride the coattails of the country's fitness and nutrition craze.

Sad to say, our last issue ("Croutons vs. Bacon Bits: Our Readers Decide!") and the issue before that ("Bleu Cheese or Thousand Island: Our Readers Decide!") did poorly in street sales, as did May's disastrous edition ("Bell Peppers vs. Jalapenos: Our Readers Decide!"), when we were stuck with 400,000 leftover copies.

Apparently (and we think this is a cheap shot) our readers thought we were failing to take a strong stand on many of the issues facing salad bar devotees.

We like to feel we've punched up next month's edition ("Onions at Lunchtime: Are You Playing With Fire?") as well as September's ("Salad Bar Pigs: They Ruin It For The Rest Of Us!").

But the fact remains that both this magazine and it's sister publication, Over Easy: The Magazine for Egg Lovers, remain on life-support systems.

Also apparently gasping its last breath is American Doodler, which we launched 10 years ago amid much fanfare as "A Guide to Aimless Scribbling, Designing or Sketching."

Note: After next month's issue, Cross-dressing Times will cease publication.

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