You've caught me here in my office with Stevie, our Crud photographer. Which is a bit of a surprise, as I'm sure I locked the door. Get up and greet the people, Stevie. I said, greet the people ... He's shy.
Yes, he is young to be a staff photographer. Eighteen, actually. Stevie had no idea of the talent he was sitting on until I got behind him. But that's me, Crud and The Community. Give, give, give.
I believe today's young gay men should be encouraged to show you what they're made of, don't you? That's why Stevie has gone from go-go dancer to brandishing a Brownie. Bless young gay men. They're so grateful for a job. So grateful, in fact, they don't care what I pay them, however meagre! I'll tell you a secret - my bar tab at Comptons is bigger than Crud's wage bill! And the younger they are, the more polite they are. I fired the entire journalistic team this morning - his name's Bobby - and he didn't even kick up a fuss.
Scram, Stevie. We have the Scout Leader Fantasy photo-shoot to finish and the auditions for the Studs We'd Like to Foster centre-spread, and I'll bet you haven't even popped into Boots' for a roll of film. How can you be so cavalier about our hard news coverage? Shoo.
There. Let me tell you about Crud, the exciting new magazine for gay men. Shall we start with the title? Our market researchers came up with it. They analysed the other gay weeklies (which I won't name here, because I do not intend to pursue the usual divisive policy of undercutting, financial falsehood and inflating circulation figures until I'm face-to- face with their advertisers) and when I asked for conclusions, someone sniggered, "My conclusion is gay men must love crud."
And they all roared. Except me. Because I care deeply about the needs of The Community, with its oppression, inequality and highly disposable income. I do not scorn their tastes, especially as they coincide with my own. So I thumped the table, and intoned sternly, like Moses delivering the Sermon on the Mount, "Gentlemen, our product shall be known as Crud, and as you and everyone else will soon realise, Crud is no laughing matter."
That's the Crud concept. To include, not exclude. Crud will be different, but more of the same. Like Loaded, only empty. Like The Face, but faceless. Like Attitude, except it won't have any attitude.
For instance, were you aware that of the 200 pages of gay weeklies distributed in London, only 199 carry pictures of naked men, and that includes the obituaries? And what does Crud do every time it fingers a gap? Crud plugs it. That's why Crud, the exciting new magazine for gay men, will run a Spot the Balls competition, something our rivals have never dared to do, apart from last week, when Boyz, QX and Guyz all did it.
Not that Crud will skimp its sacred duty to diversity. We guarantee a full, comprehensive lesbian quarter page regardless, as long as we can work the words "nun", "strangle", "turkey baster" and "Virgin birth" into the copy. Which shouldn't be difficult as we shall be following established industry guidelines and making up most of our stories.
Limited resources, I'm afraid. Why, I can't even afford to employ a lesbian for the full, comprehensive lesbian quarter page! Not that anyone here would actually want a big, butch dyke stomping about the place. Hell, no. But I did change the name of the deputy editor on the masthead from David Dullard to Mavis Dullard, which I was glad to do, because, honestly, that's how much I care.
It's not as if our target readership notices. In my experience of both pink business and busy back rooms, gay men can be relied upon to swallow almost anything. Accurate reporting, professional standards, forget it. I have. They don't give a toss about design, either. Let me show you our dummy issue. I'll buzz Helen, our layout artist.
Miss Keller, can you come here, please ... Miss Keller, can you come here, please ... MISS KELLER, CAN YOU COME HERE PLEASE. Bugger. Really - this woman claims The Guardian employed her as a proof reader.
All right. Peruse our cartoon, "Fag and Gag". Your thoughts? I agree. About as funny as Ebola. But vanity case studies show that what's vitally important is that the title contains "Fag". There you have it. Which is why I get angry with the ungrateful who are already whining that Crud, the exciting new magazine for gay men, is a cheap, amateur rip-off. They are unaware that each utterance brands them vicious homophobes, particularly when the utterances are spat out by other, clearly deranged gay men who cannot comprehend how I sacrifice myself for the greater good and around pounds 60,000 a year. I may never have been remotely involved in journalism before but, damn it, I'm an owner and editor now, and you don't have to be Leonard and Bernstein to realise what's good for me is good for The Community.
But then, these silly queens worship Madonna, when any shrewd homosexual with handy cash knows Margaret Thatcher is the role model. She's done so much for gay men - and this gay man in particular. That's why Crud's election reports kick off with "Tony Blair - The Bigger the Hair, The Lower the Morals". I penned that, as I am proud to have penned my debut editorial attacking the shoddy, sub-standard services traditionally inflicted upon The Community. For isn't it time this hypocrisy was finally exposed?
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