Glossy Freebie Debuts With Hockney Cover

Times Staff Writer

One of the great things about being a rich Californian is the free magazines that come to the mailbox like little nuggets from heaven.

This bounty of glossy pages will be doubled for 75,000 affluent West Los Angeles residents in late September when the first issue of West Hollywood magazine arrives in a clear plastic bag with that other freebie, Angeles.

The West Hollywood entry, a product of the West Hollywood Marketing Corp., will be notable for its cover--an original painting by David Hockney.

The annual--meant to promote the city's shops, restaurants, hotels and other enterprises--is still in development but there's no question that the cover by Hockney, who had one of his student works sold recently for more than $2 million, is a coup. The painting, which Hockney did for free, shows the contrast between the small, nearly 5-year-old city's residential bungalows and its two landmarks--the blue and green mega-structures of the Pacific Design Center. It is a perfect illustration of the "urban village" theme that the development corporation's Rick Cole wanted.

"We're extremely happy with it," Cole said, noting that the happiness is tinged with a bit of relief.

He explained that after he and Ron Kates, the corporation's chairman, got Hockney's agreement to create a cover illustration over lunch, they grew nervous about what the famous artist might actually do with his commission.

"We were saying, 'Well, gee, what do you suppose he'll come up with?' " Cole recalled, adding that the development corporation, a joint venture of city government and business, would not be able to refuse the work or ask for alterations. "You really can't be too choosy--'Can you make this a little more blue and this a little more green?' " he said.

Cole said that the magazine, which also will be stocked in West Hollywood's upscale hotels, is envisioned as something different from other promotional magazines, usually lists of eateries and rooming establishments for tourists. Among other things, the magazine--produced by an advertising agency, the Vogel Communications Group--will include "legitimate, meaty-type editorial" material. Projected articles would look at the life of a buyer for one of the town's avant-garde clothing retailers and a day in the life of an agent at ICM, the big show-biz firm.

The decision to piggyback with Angeles, the 9-month-old award-winning interior-design and architecture monthly from the publishers of California magazine, was based on Angeles' use of "the choicest demographics" in compiling its mailing list, Cole said.

That same formula of pinpointing ultra-affluent readers was used by Angeles' creators to launch a spinoff magazine for the San Francisco Bay area. The new entry, SF, was mailed last week to 75,000 of the region's prime consumers with personal statistics that stimulate the hormones of advertisers: average income, $141,000, and average home value, $575,000.

Although SF's lineage is traceable to Angeles, it is a warmer magazine. There are people on the cover, compared with Angeles' often stark standard fare of exteriors and interiors of lavish homes.

Publisher Perry Grayson says the differences are intentional because each magazine tries to fill a different niche. In the Bay Area, the magazine faces less competition than Angeles, which must vie for attention with magazines such as Los Angeles and LA West, he explained.

Control of Circulation

Both ventures, he said, are forays into "controlled circulation," a Magazine Land euphemism for giveaways.

But by sacrificing circulation revenue, Grayson said, the magazines can precisely target the audience they seek, a plus with advertisers. Moreover, readers are sent cards asking if they want to continue receiving the magazines, a tactic that so far has proved that many subscribers want Angeles to keep coming back, Grayson said.

Like its sister, SF is high on post-modern interior design. The first issue contains a spread on table-top elements, including a set of forks, knives and spoons that look like accessories for berserk robots in a 1950s sci-fi flick. However, there's not much of this.

Sharpness of Comment

And SF does have a refreshingly sharp tongue on occasion. For instance, the City Observed department castigates Northern California Home & Garden for its April cover, described as "a vast green field dotted with blurry images of Holsteins, two of which appear to be charging the photographer (and with good reason)." In the same section, the magazine arched an eyebrow over a new apartment complex where the monthly rent of $3,000 provides a view "of the underside of the Bay Bridge, a parking garage, the charred remains of the Oriental Warehouse, the construction sites on Townsend Street and the car dwellers on First and Second Streets."

Probably not the kind of place to make SF's mailing list.

2 for the Single Reader

Meanwhile, lonely, desperate Californians who aren't totally consumed with their property may end up reading 2 magazine, a quarterly for singles, set for rollout at the end of next month.

Published by George Goldberg, whose other venture is Faces International magazine for aspiring entertainers, 2 will contain "companion classified advertising" from aspiring heartthrobs. Singles who advertise will be assigned a four-digit number that can be keyed in after dialing a 976 number. Callers leave their names, brief descriptions and a phone number.

Full Photo Spreads

The cost of pumping the vacuum out of an isolated heart won't be cheap. Ad prices begin at $375 and could go up to several thousand dollars, a representative said.

A prototype of the magazine indicates that companion seekers may opt for full photo spreads or more modest individual head shots with brief personal descriptions and statements of desires such as: "Seeking an attractive, educated woman whose smile can light up a room."

Sounds like a substitute for cold fusion.

Timed With the Big Bang

Until 17 billion years ago, the universe was pale, vacant, dull and uninformed. Then Time magazine was born and things became more colorful, meaningful, quotable and middle-browed.

This is the main premise behind the Harvard Lampoon parody of Time, published by Perigee Books and due out May 25. Namely, that Time began with that universe-creating event, the Big Bang, ages and ages ago.

"Whether we've been bloodthirsty Germanic warlords, unicellular organisms, or clumps of interstellar dust, Time has provided us with the concise information we need to make informed choices about the week's events," the parody's editors report modestly.

And if you feel that Time magazine has been around forever, then Lampoon's spread of Time covers from eons past will drive that feeling deep into the core of your magazine-reading soul.

For instance, on Labor Day in 26 million BC, Time investigated that key bit of evolution: "Opposable Thumbs: Pro or Con." Much later, on June 5, 9204 BC, the magazine's cover story was "The Ice Age: Is It Really Over?" Other cover topics through the ages include "Is Baal Dead?" Pontius Pilot as the Man of the Year in AD 33, "The Dark Ages: Will Western Civilization Bounce Back?" and "The Black Death: Is the End Nigh?"

But the parody isn't all news nostalgia. The cover portrays a harried looking President and Barbara Bush in bed at the White House, surrounded by reporters, cameramen and technicians with the headline, "Is the press too nosy?"

Elsewhere in the issue are articles on what a return to prayer in public schools might mean and a crime report on a character in "The Family Circus" going nuts and murdering his entire family, except for Mom.

The Lampoon's editors take a grim view of the prayer issue. Their mock report supposes that schoolchildren would turn to religions other than Christianity. Imagining prayer time at an Iowa elementary school, the parodists write, "Not since the marketplace at Babylon has there been such a teeming bazaar of cacophonous religious activity. 'Marduk be praised!' screams out little Tommy Williams, smashing his head repeatedly against a hand-held gong . . . the squeal of a wild boar rings out as it is garroted in sacrifice to Ashtoreth at the hands of Cindy Sempel. Against the background hum of mantras, moans, and the smack of ecstatic self-flagellation, the name of the Nazarene is scarcely heard."

As for the homicidal spree in cartoonland, the character Billy was the culprit. "When it was over he (Billy) had burned the house, garage and every family possession to the ground and killed each member of the family (save Mom) down to his dog, Tiger, as well as the canine celebrities Fred Basset and Yorky, who had stopped by for a visit. . . . Billy is also being held as a suspect in the disappearance of Pogo Possum from the comics page, (and) the death of Bambi's mother. . . . "

Price of the parody is $4.95. In 1989 currency.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World