CANOGA PARK : A Publisher’s Dream Becomes Issue of Reality


Between the idea and the Reality, 23-year-old magazine publisher Brian Solis spends bleary-eyed hours at his personal computer.

From his Canoga Park apartment, Solis produces a free, black-and-white fashion publication, called Reality Magazine, the first 30,000 copies of which were distributed to restaurants and shopping centers in the Valley and other parts of Los Angeles in January.

“It keeps me stressed,” Solis said. “But I love to watch people picking it up to read.”

During time not spent working at a Malibu advertising agency or attending classes at Pierce College, Solis is both publisher and contributing editor for the magazine, which he describes as “maybe a cross between Cosmopolitan and Newsweek.”


“I have a problem with all the magazines I see on the newsstand,” Solis said. “Most of the stuff in them is like reading a script you’ve read before. I wanted to do something that will get people stirred up emotionally and make them think.”

The first monthly issue includes fashion spreads from Ventura Boulevard and Westside salons and apparel shops, an article on Barbra Streisand, advice about love and relationships and editorials about pop star Michael Jackson and the media’s coverage of crime.

The magazine has also provided a forum to showcase the talents of local high school students. Students from Pierce and Taft High School have made editorial contributions and helped sell ads for Reality.

“Especially at the beginning, I’ve had to do almost everything myself,” Solis said. “I can’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep.”

Solis said he was inspired to start publishing in 1989 by the main character in the movie “Pump Up the Volume,” a high school student who operates an unlicensed radio station from his basement.

“I said, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to do,’ ” Solis said. “But I didn’t have radio equipment.”


Solis started writing and distributing short essays on flyers for rock bands, and eventually put out a leaflet-style magazine called Reality Report.

Unable to secure a small business loan, Solis started Reality Magazine with about $2,000 saved since his graduation from Reseda High School in 1988. So far, the advertising is paying the costs, and he said he hopes to expand to 60,000 copies in March.

“I still want to get a loan, to go to a glossy format,” Solis said. “It’s just an uphill battle to get anyone behind you until you’ve proved yourself.”

Proving himself has been especially important as a Latino, Solis said.

“I’ve had the same types of obstacles and stereotypes as other people who are Hispanic: that we are only going to work in factories or jump in your car to work in your garden,” he said. “This is something to put in the face of people who have joked about that all my life.”