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Checking GMAD’s Pulse

Black, gay magazine hits the shelves

by j. brotherlove

Pulse MagazineLast week, I made brief mention of a new crop of black, gay magazines. This week, Rod also reports on the influx of glossies targeting black, gay men, posing the question “Is the competition getting crowded?”

I’m withholding my answer for now. But I thought I’d share some of the pages and my opinion of the magazines, as I did with J. L. King’s Just Living Atlanta. Just Living didn’t produce another issue outside of its February 2006 premiere. I hope I don’t jinx the future of the others by reviewing them too soon.

Pulse is published by GMAD in New York, and bills itself as “the heartbeat of black gay America”. Um, ok. Hyperbole aside, the startling cover of the “Premiere Issue” (despite the existence of back issues) proves to be well-designed with a good variety of content within its 80-pages.

Pulse Magazine

Amongst the usual advertisements for HIV/AIDS treatments, Noah’s Arc and diva CDs, are articles on gay parenting, crystal meth abuse, and personal grooming. “You, Me & He” is from a woman whose husband turned out to be “living on the down low” 10 years ago. Yeah, I moaned when I saw it, too. However, her handling of the situation is a bit different.

GMAD Executive Director Tokes Osubu calls for us to realize and leverage our political power and influence in “Out Loud and Proud, The New Black Gay Agenda”. There are layouts on fashion and jewelry (featuring men of different shades for a change) and an interesting article on adding some pizzazz to your (dread) locks by coloring them.

Pulse MagazineAdding to sentiments regularly made online by Karsh, Bernie and others is an article on Internet dating that bemoans how men “are selecting their tricks, friends and acquaintances based on their height, waistline, and other symmetry… where no fats, no fems, no elders, no dark-skin… no one real or authentic need apply”.

You know who you are.

On the down side, “Sleeping With The Enemy”, referring to

GMAD’s aggressive (and criticized) “War On Raw (Sex)” campaign didn’t inspire me and the spread on (butch) “realness” and “Yo Mama” jokes felt like unnecessary add-ons.

Pulse MagazineMy favorite article in this issue of Pulse is “Booty Licious”, an owner’s guide to caring for your butt. Articles like these are sorely needed. I’m constantly caught off-guard by men don’t know the basics of booty hygiene. I’m talking more than proper enema use. “Booty Licious” goes into detail about other health issues that can come into play with receptive anal sex such as HPV (it’s not just something the women in those new commercials need to worry about) and venereal warts.

Overall, the magazine is undeniably New York-focused, so I wouldn’t take the “heartbeat of black gay America” tag too seriously. Especially since there are no articles targeting lesbians. Last I checked, America had more women than men. But, Pulse is off to an admirable start. Let’s hope they secure the budget to keep publishing and growing.

pub: 11/08/2006 | previous entry | next entry | feedback x 8 | subscribe

I checked out the covers of those back issues and I gotta say I’m more impressed with Pulse than from what I’ve seen from the other mags. Perhaps they could diversify in terms of their NY perspective but you gotta give credit where it’s due. I long for a day when the most talented writers and artists of our culture can put ego aside and create the definitive black gay mag. Until then I’m gonna wait…

Is it possible to make the “definitive black gay mag?” I highly doubt it.

What I’d like to see is greater diversity among those that are out there. Can we ever write about serious subjects? Write for an audience that doesn’t give a damn about balls and fashion? How about a Black gay business magazine? Black gay political? Black gay news?

Ok, I’m clearly asking for too much.

Actually Bernie, I think you and nova are closer in your vision than you think. A “definitive black gay mag” would encompass all (or most) of the elements you mentioned. You’re not asking for too much; but you may be expecting too much, too soon. Especially, if we are more interested in being the kings of our own little queendoms than we are collaborating on a bigger idea.

Until we have more out, progressive black gay folk making good money, fighting the good fight, and owning businesses, a magazine focused solely on black gay politics, news and business isn’t a very profitable proposition. And frankly, I’d find a magazine like that a bit dry.

Balance is the key. There are enough of us black gay folk who dig entertainment and fashion spreads while keeping a handle on our homes and 401(k). These elements don’t have to exist in separate spaces. Now is the perfect time to contact these magazines and make your voice heard if you’re not satisfied with their scope.

Not to pick a nit, but in publishing, specialization—or target marketing—is far more profitable than mass marketing. That is to say, magazines with a single, clearly identifiable focus, are easier to market to both audiences and advertisers than general interest periodicals that cover a wide range of subject matter.

However, magazines as a whole are suffering because of the presence of the Internet. People can get their information much faster, more cheaply and more directly, online.

But as it pertains to the Black gay magazine consumer, we don’t have enough diversity in either category.

Nothing wrong with nit-picking, Bernie. But I don’t know how many niche publications the black gay community can sustain at this point.

However, by your own argument, a publication like Ballroom Rockstar makes the most sense. It’s very specialized (and a good little magazine, too).

Please do share all of your feedback with Tokes - what you like about the new incarnation and what you don’t. It will help him and the editorial team immensely.

OMG, I just LOVE this inline spell checking in Firefox 2!

I have checked out Pulse a couple of times in PDF format and I really like it. The cover is hot, but I’m still waiting to see the magazine that celebrates equally the beauty of older, browner, and thicker men. Maybe I need to start a magazine. Hmmm.

8. Wesley

I’ve checked out several issues of Pulse and was not impressed. It is not the type of magazine that represents ME and MY lifestyle. The articles may be interesting and informative, but I really couldn’t get past the effeminate-looking models in girlie poses complete with beads, tight bikini briefs and multi-colored blouses.

The models chosen to appear on the cover of the “Pride 2007” edition were a real turn-off. It’s disturbing when a black gay magazine demonstrates its preoccupation with the skin color thing, especially in this day and age. Art director, lighten up on the PhotoShop make-overs (no pun intended). Is there something wrong with portraying black men au naturel?

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