Dear 'Phase': A disappointed reader's letter to the new glossy monthly magazine for gays

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Indy Lifestyle Online
When it was announced that your glossy gay monthly was on the way a lot of happy homosexuals thought the idea as divine and overdue as the invention of the KY-warmer (and the soul who invents that will make a fortune).

For years, male style rags such as GQ and Esquire have traded on homo-eroticism, targeting gay men's 'highly disposable incomes', yet seldom, if ever, acknowledging their most avid consumers, except in private. This despite queens of all shapes and sideburns labouring on the very pages that ignored their existence. Now you would change that; the style mag would come out of the closet to reflect contemporary lesbian and gay life in all its diversity, with wit, with panache - and no apologies.

What's more, thanks to your distribution deal, you got WH Smith and John Menzies to put your publication not on the top shelf, but down with Family Circle and Pig Breeder's Weekly, a quick-step in the right direction. Thanks.

But what's the point of that and an initial print run of 100,000 if the product is . . . appalling?

Out of the closet you came yesterday and, my dear, what a mess you are: the Baby Jane of British magazine publishing.

As I was going through my Phase, I found something that couldn't tell the difference between camp and crap. It was not exactly designed . . . actually, I'll end the sentence there. Phase is not exactly designed. Something of a failing for a publication that was to seize readers from Arena and Co, as well as expose how the competition stole from trend-setting gay sensibility.

I mean, that typeface and point size. If it were any bigger Mr Magoo could read it. Not that he would want to. One of the fundamental truths of journalism is that one must be able to write - being gay really isn't enough. Which may explain why most of your 'features' - mobile phones] heterosexual personal trainers] proportional representation] lots of exclamation marks]]] - seem to clock in at about 300-400 words. This includes the cover story, flagged as being about lesbians and gay men getting along - or not - but which turns out to be one paragraph of text spread across three pages of ineptly shot fashion lay-out featuring thermal vests by Marks & Sparks and 'Beverages by Ovaltine'. (And why do dykes and queens get along? Because we shop at Ikea and wear Doc Martens, so we're told. Deeply dippy.)

I could go on. And I will. 'Muff Diva' Lea De Laria? Last month's story, darling. Interviewing Philadelphia star Tom Hanks? Try asking some sharp questions. Test-driving the Ferrari Mondial? Well, that might be a joke, but with this writing, in this company, who can tell?

Indeed, Phase could do with a little irony, the subculture's favourite mode. Sadly, the only example I could detect in the entire 108 pages was, I presume, unintentional. Michael Roberts's all-too-familiar homo-erotic fashion spread - muscles, stubble, tattoos and some sarongs - is exactly the sort of stuff that the other rags specialise in. Gay desire with a straight gloss. As I said, ironic.

(Photograph omitted)

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