It’s goodbye to lads – should it be goodbye to mags?

Disappear HereThere are so many reasons to question ex-Loaded editor James Brown’s decision to hook up with Peaches Geldof to launch yet another free fashion/culture/lifestyle/art/photography/design magazine – Disappear Here – on an unsuspecting world.

There were of course raised eyebrows at the godfather of lads’ mags’ decision to co-edit a magazine with someone so universally mocked outside the cosy world of celebrity as Peaches Geldof – some of you may remember the astonishingly vitriolic response to her first column (exclamation marks optional) in fashion/culture/lifestyle/art/photography/design magazine Nylon – with many furious respondents threatening an all out boycott of the magazine as a result. Not an auspicious start.

The decision also raises some very serious questions about the nature of modern celebrity. Now that we are we being forced to believe that a celebrity should be able to do everything from cooking the perfect coq au vin to dancing the American Smooth (whatever that is), must we also assume that just because you’re famous you can also edit a magazine?

Beyond these considerations however, we have to wonder why James Brown is persevering with a medium that is less than easy to make pay. As Stephen Armstrong noted this week in The Guardian, in 2005, six similar fashion/culture/lifestyle/art/photography/design magazines were launched, including Good for Nothing, edited by former Sleaze Nation journalists, and Little White Lies, a movie magazine created by a group of graduates. Almost four years later, only Little White Lies is still going.

Given this to be the case, and given the current even more challenging market conditions, would it not have been more sensible to launch an online only fashion/culture/lifestyle/art/photography/design title? Bloggers are already debating this and other questions here and here.

As someone who spends rather too much of his spare time writing for some of the few remaining worthwhile independent music/culture magazines (including Plan B, Flux and New York’s Wax Poetics), I am very well aware of the pressures facing anyone who doesn’t want to hitch a ride with the likes of Emap and IPC. It’s very rare for a magazine to survive these days – even one that contains Peaches Geldof’s ode to Reese’s Peanut Butter Sticks: “Fuck health. Fuck teeth. Fuck vegetables. Eat Reeses Peanut Butter Sticks,” she apparently writes in Disappear Here’s first issue. Inspired.

James Brown has done well over the years to rid himself of the lads tag. But is it not time that he said goodbye to mags as well?

  • This does seem like a very strange decision by Mr Brown – it’s not as though his last venture Jack, the handbag sized magazine for men (I’ve often wondered whether he really thought that one through) was a roaring success.

    I’ve suggested in the past that publishers could use blog software to launch niche ‘publications’ (or relaunch old ones – [please excuse the shameless link]) and one does have to wonder whether this might have been the right move here. That said, as the recent events at Gawker have shown, the problems around getting sufficient advertising revenue are just as much of an issue online as they are off.

    Oh, and obviously, launching anything with Peaches is tantamount to admitting defeat before you’ve even started.