Eponymously yours, Susan

Why should Oprah and Martha get all the glory? I want a magazine, too.


April 15, 2001|By Susan Reimer | Susan Reimer,SUN COLUMNIST

Tina wanted to tantalize, so she started Talk. Poor Ivana. She tanked with Ivana.

Everyone was dying for Martha Stewart Living. But Oprah made a bigger splash when she jumped in with O.

We're all seeing double, now that Mary-Kate and Ashley have launched mary-kateandashley. And now, Rosie has hit the newsstands, courtesy of Rosie.

Rosie O'Donnell, the wise-cracking, star-struck talk show host, is the latest to join the migration of celebrities from TV to the magazine racks in the supermarket checkout line.

Rosie steals a page from Martha and Oprah, right down to her face on the cover and the pastel nameplate in the upper left-hand corner.

But unlike Martha Stewart, who wants to improve our surroundings, and Oprah Winfrey, who wants to improve our interior selves, Rosie has the traditional women's magazine elements: celebrities, recipes, crafts, advice on fashion, family, health and sex. Plus a nod to serious issues, like gun control and adoption.

Instead of "gloss," Rosie promises "grit." She says she wants her readers to see themselves when thumbing through her magazine.

And that got me thinking ...

Why not Susan: The Magazine for Women with No Time to Read?

Want to see my brand?

Like Martha, Oprah and Rosie, I already have a loyal following -- which these days includes Catholics, Ravens fans, lacrosse parents, private school parents, stay-at-home mothers, Republican men and gun owners. Why not turn them into paying subscribers?

What a concept!

I did my market research and personalities like Oprah, Martha and Rosie are what is now called "human brands," which means people will buy anything with their names on it.

Right away, I figured I could be the generic human brand: unremarkable, indistinguishable and not the least bit memorable.

First things first, however. I would have to meet with my "editorial board."

Martha and Oprah appear to have gathered sycophants in a room, criticized their ideas and then announced what they wanted. Rosie says she met with what remained of the editorial board of McCall's, the 125-year-old magazine she cannibalized, and everybody laughed at her ideas and said, "You can't do that."

I took a more inclusive, but less defensive, approach. I put out this call to my gal pals, "My house, tonight. Wine, chips and salsa. Show up funny."

They came, and together we hammered out an editorial vision that, I must humbly state, almost perfectly showcases my sardonic sense of humor, my alleged style, my dyspeptic view of human nature and, of course, my friends, none of whom are famous.

Here's a sneak preview of the contents of the first issue of Susan.

* "Cooking with kids: Why the little dickens opens the fridge, drinks directly from a container, fails to replace the lid and complains that there isn't anything to eat."

* "Decorating around tennis shoes and wet towels," plus: "Making a wreath with balled up sweat socks."

* " 'Why bother?': The question that changed one mother's life."

* "Couples: Keeping romance alive when you both snore."

* "Susan's White Wine Diet: The 'who cares?' solution to those unwanted pounds."

Interviews with famous people appear to be required. Oprah talks with Nelson Mandela, Rosie talks with Fran Drescher, Tina talks with Don Hewitt of "60 Minutes" fame and Martha talks to some hunky candlemaker.

For my readers: "Susan talks to someone for 20 minutes without remembering her name."

Rosie has beauty tips from Madonna and child-rearing tips from celebrity moms Tracey Pullman, Marilee Henna and Jane Seymour.

Susan will showcase makeup tips from my daughter, who snatches all my new stuff before I have a chance to use it, and parenting tips from my husband. Hey, I'd love to hear what he has to say on this topic.

All me, all the time

All my eponymous sister mags seem to include a personal calendar, though I'm not sure who thinks readers want to know about everything they do every day. Oprah's is inspirational, Martha's is anal. Rosie's is a hoot: "May 6: Throw out underwear purchased before 1980."

But, since this is clearly a required element in egocentric magazines, I will dutifully include whatever scribbles I can manage to make out from my Day Runner, things like "change the Brita filter" and "mulch arrives."

And in lieu of those annoying blow-in subscription cards, each issue of Susan will include notes my children forgot to give me or their teachers.

Most importantly, every month, instead of giving some anonymous loser a makeover, gifted hair stylists and makeup artists will -- voila! -- create a new me.


Hey, you want a makeover? Get your own magazine.

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