Publisher Muscles Into Market for 35+ Women

Times Staff Writer

First they thought about calling it 35 Plus. Or Pizazz. Or New Image. Or plain old Image.

Not surprisingly, nobody was thrilled with these banalities. But when someone suggested Moxie, oh, how their hearts sang.

And come Aug. 29, the folks at Joe Weider's publishing and fitness empire in Woodland Hills hope that hundreds of thousands of women, age 35 and over, will perk up, too, when they see the first issue of Moxie on the newsstands.

In a departure for the 68-year-old Weider, who has built a $250-million enterprise on muscle-building and fitness magazines (Muscle & Fitness, Flex, Shape and Men's Fitness) and vitamin and nutrition supplements, Moxie will be aimed at a more general audience, according to both Weider and Kathy S. Soverow, Moxie's editor-in-chief.

While the magazine will include such standard fare as articles on nutrition, exercise and health, it also will delve into "self-growth," fashion and beauty, health travel and personal finance.

In a telephone interview, Weider called Moxie a "how-to" magazine for women who want more control over their lives and bodies.

Articles in the preview issue, with actress Sally Kirkland on the cover and advertising for cars and shampoo for gray hair inside, give a hint of what the magazine will be like. The pieces include "Divorce and the Job Hunt," "Debunking the Myths of Middle Age" and "How Much Should a Healthy Body Cost."

As defined by the publishers, Moxie--a slang expression derived from the name of a soft drink--means energy, pluck, audacity, stamina and skill, among other things. And in advance promotional material, the magazine is being touted as "for the woman with the courage to grow."

This is another way of saying that Moxie, with a first issue distribution of more than 400,000 copies, hopes to cash in on the much-publicized graying of America.

By the publisher's count, about 46.3 million American women--or 19% of the total population--are old enough to be Moxie readers.

Soverow, a marathon runner and former triathlete, said that Moxie is designed to appeal to a wider economic spectrum than Lear's, the 16-month-old slick magazine for women over 40 that has attracted mainly affluent readers. Just this spring Mirabella, a fashion and style magazine from Australian press lord Rupert Murdoch, was launched--with a few megatons of hoopla--at women in the middle of life.

In her debut as editor, Soverow, 36, writes that Moxie's focus will be "the adventure of turning 40, of being in your 50s and 60s." She adds: "One of my greatest challenges was to find a title that stated our mission. . . . I wanted a word that described the woman we are writing for: seasoned, sexy, self-assured, with the stamina to persevere and the enthusiasm to blaze new trails. When I heard Moxie, I knew I had that name."

Praised and Castigated

Weider, it should be noted, is the controversial impresario whose discoveries include Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, star of the television series, "The Incredible Hulk." He has been widely praised, as well as castigated, for his efforts on behalf of body-building and is credited with turning this offshoot of narcissism into a mini-industry.

Weider has been most controversial for his promotion of nutritional supplements that are claimed to aid optimum physical development, a notion disputed by many experts. In 1985, Weider's company agreed to pay at least $400,000 to settle a complaint by the Federal Trade Commission for falsely claiming that two brands of its vitamin pills--Anabolic Mega-Pak and Dynamic Life Essence--would grow muscle for those who took them.

At the time, Weider's firm said it agreed to the settlement to save the "time and expense of litigation" and did not admit to any inaccurate advertising.

The Reality of War

Unlike the televised Vietnam War, World War II was sanitized for the home front with decorous photographs of the dead and carefully evasive news dispatches that touched only glancingly upon the terrible physical and psychic wounds of battle.

So writes Paul Fussell in a long, grim, graphic, painful essay, "The Real War 1939-1945" in the August issue of the Atlantic Monthly. It is not an article for maintaining peace of mind. Wounds suffered in combat in that war were more likely to eviscerate, amputate, decapitate or atomize soldiers than noncombatants were ever told, asserts Fussell, who served with the 103rd Infantry Division in France and Germany. Fussell is also the author of "The Great War and Modern Memory," a study of World War I that won the National Book Award in 1976. The Atlantic essay is excerpted from a forthcoming book, "Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War."

Now a professor of English literature at the University of Pennsylvania, Fussell argues that a continuing misunderstanding of the war has an impact on the present.

"America has not yet understood what the war was like and thus has been unable to use such understanding to reinterpret and redefine the national reality and to arrive at something like public maturity," he writes.

More immediately, the public was insulated from the soldiers' reality of World War II through "optimistic publicity and euphemism," Fussell declares. Soldiers "knew that in its representation to the laity, what was happening to them was systematically sanitized and Norman Rockwellized, not to mention Disneyfied."

'Public Innocence'

Fussell adds: "What annoyed the troops and augmented their sardonic contemptuous attitude toward those who viewed them from afar was in large part this public innocence about the bizarre damage suffered by the human body in modern war. . . . You would expect front line soldiers to be struck and hurt by bullets and shell fragments, but such is the popular insulation from the facts that you would not expect them to be hurt, sometimes killed, by being struck by parts of their friends' bodies violently detached."

The harsh arithmetic of the war meant that sooner or later everyone on the front line became a physical or mental casualty, Fussell reports. "In six weeks of fighting in Normandy, the 90th Infantry Division had to replace 150% of its officers and more than 100% of its men. If a division was engaged for more than three months, the probability was that every one of its lieutenants, all 132 of them, would be killed or wounded."

While journalists, photographers and government censors hid the worst of the war's horror from Americans, those on the other side knew even less, according to Fussell, who comments: "Certainly, so far as the German home front knew, soldiers' bodies were not dismembered, decapitated, eviscerated, or flattened out by tank treads until they looked like plywood."

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