Home to what may be the city's highest per-capita population of Caucasian dreadheads and individuals with subcutaneous jewelry, L.A.'s Eastside is a hotbed of countercultural activity. So why is this thriving scene more often reported by the national media than it is locally?
"I really get the feeling that the Eastside is considered by the established media in L.A. to be this one-block area that is really kitschy and fun and something you do once a month for a laugh," says Laurie Pike, founder and publisher of Glue--a locally produced magazine that debuts this month. "There's more to life there than breast implants and going to the movies, but that's all I'm reading about when I pick up [L.A.] magazines."
Pike, who lives between Koreatown and Los Feliz in an area she terms "Silver Lake adjacent"--and who publishes the magazine out of her home--considers La Cienega to be the city's latitudinal Mason-Dixon line. By "Eastside," she means Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Echo Park and downtown, as well as the Larchmont and Hollywood Flats districts.
But, Pike is quick to say, Glue is not to the exclusion of the Westside. "The magazine's readership is more of a psychographic than a demographic," she says.
Boldly going where few area publications have gone before, Glue is dedicated to unearthing the city's multitudinous subcultures. The magazine is subtitled Style and Action in Los Angeles, because, Pike explains, "when you go out at 3 a.m. and you see a woman doing a nude cabaret act with cheeseburgers, what do you call that? It's just action."
Opening with a section titled Seismograph, a collage column on unique people and places in the city, the premiere issue also includes features on novelty billboards and a group of clubbers called the "It Kids"; a first-person essay by Dr. Vaginal Davis, the cross-dressing host/ess of Club Sucker; and advice from John Waters' character actress and Baltimore-to-L.A. transplant Mink Stole. Fashion is the theme of Glue's first issue, and the majority of photo shoots highlights local clothing designers.
Well-written, humorous and substantive, Glue is the print embodiment of its creator, Pike--a smart and sassy redhead with an infectious energy and unparalleled enthusiasm for Los Angeles.
But Pike didn't always feel so positively about the city. In the early '90s, she left her job as a staff writer with the preternaturally hip guide to New York's underground scene--Paper Magazine--to take a job in L.A. as a nightly entertainment reporter with KTTV. She lasted nine months before returning to the East Coast, where she began freelance writing for Us, British Elle, British Vogue and Buzz magazines, among others. At the same time she was hosting and producing a Canadian fashion program, for which she often traveled to Los Angeles.
"There are so many stories out here. I'd always be writing stories about L.A. for [East Coast] publications. It's just the opposite of New York, where if two people do anything anywhere it's immediately labeled a trend. L.A.'s just the opposite. It's just a gold mine with jewels hanging off the wall," marvels Pike, who moved back to L.A. in October.
Three months later, she was at a party with Bob Hofler (formerly of Buzz, where Pike freelanced), an editor with Detour (where she was interviewing for a job), and Annie Flanders (who founded the now legendary Details magazine). "I was like Scrooge with Christmas past, present and future," Pike says. "I looked at Annie, and I thought if she can do it, I can do it."
A sort of spiritual guide and big sister to Pike, Flanders began publishing Details out of her Manhattan apartment in 1982. It was 44 pages on newsprint. By 1990, when Flanders sold the magazine, Details had grown to a 300-page glossy. Flanders is now Conde Nast's West Coast editor and creative advisor to Glue.
"I was so taken with Laurie's enthusiasm and her ideas and her excitement and her willingness to take such enormous risk that I could do nothing but encourage her," says the effervescent Flanders, who sees more than a little of herself in Pike. "I just thought, if anybody is going to do this, and this is a magazine that needs so badly to be done, no one could do it better than Laurie."
Pike, who moved to New York City in 1987 from her hometown of Cincinnati, sees a number of parallels between 1980s New York and 1990s L.A. "There's so much going on here! It's so influential, and half the people in town don't even know it. It's not like this big, huge surprise, but I think over the next 10 or 15 years the influence the east side of town is gonna have over fashion, filmmaking and music is gonna blow people away. The arts renaissance is blowing up like Bazooka [over here]."
The initial print run for Glue, an 80-page bimonthly, is 10,000. Of those, 7,000 are mailed to a national VIP list of "scene makers and trendmeisters" in the film, television, art and fashion communities--people, Pike believes, who would naturally read the magazine but who may not see it right away. Glue is available on 200 L.A.-area newsstands and at Virgin record stores across the country.
Pike's awareness of her environment is evident in all aspects of the magazine--from the subjects she chooses to cover right down to the paper stock. "In California, you read in the sunlight, so it's better not to have glossy," Pike says, justifying the matte paper stock. "How many times have I read a magazine and constantly been moving it because of the sun?"
The decision to stay away from high gloss is also a financial one. Glue is financed entirely by Pike, who is not independently wealthy and who had to do some money juggling to put the first issue together.
"People say, 'Aren't you scared?' And I'm so happy and feel so good. I've never felt more sure about my purpose in life," Pike says. Although advertising in the first issue is only about 15% and includes big names like Levi's and Absolut, Pike says she's keeping her ad rates "dirt cheap" to encourage local advertising.
"People in New York always complain that L.A. is lame, but it has all the talent and excitement of New York," Pike says. "In New York, everyone's all crammed into a space that's way too small, but that creates this energy. I've always thought Los Angeles was the greatest place in the world; it just doesn't have the glue holding it together. Glue is reinforcing the idea of Los Angeles as a place and a lifestyle--not just a [film] factory."