The magazine industry has struggled in the 21st century as digital media pulls ad dollars away and the Great Recession of 2008-09's effect on ad revenue lingers. Magazines targeting a LGBT audience may be even more challenged since potential readership is 1/10 the size of the general population, and many of our interests are addressed in general market publications such as Vanity Fair, Opera News, Men's Health, Dwell, GQ and websites such as Towle Road, Just Jared, Outsports, etc. Still, new magazines continue to be introduced. One of them is a high-end gay lifestyle magazine with the title FourTwoNine (429 spells "GAY" on a telephone key pad.) I was unfamiliar with it until I saw it among a stack of magazines in the pantry at my office. It's a handsome publication, with large-sized pages (9" x 11") that makes it stand out from other magazines that, as a cost-cutting measure, have reduced the size of their pages. As I paged through the last few issues it brought to mind a cross between Out and Metrosource, but at a premium cover price of $12.99.
Published out of San Francisco, FourTwoNine launched in September 2013 (after a rather tepid Kickstarter campaign raised $18,700). Sarah Jessica Parker and Andy Cohen were featured on the cover of the premiere issue. Kevin Sessums of Vanity Fair fame, and writer of the critically acclaimed memoir Mississippi Sissy, was editor-in-chief until last summer. So far, just six issues have been published in 2½ years. According to the publication's media kit a spring Film and Fashion issue was scheduled to be published in March 2016 but I've seen no evidence of it. Its print circulation is just under 100,000.
According to a subscriber survey, median personal income of a subscriber is $125,000 (four times that of a typical US wage earner). With such monied readers to boast about, it's no surprise the magazine carries ads from an array of high-end companies such as Lexus, Piaget, Grey Goose, Saks and the Tribeca and SoHo Grand hotels - but ads for HIV meds are conspicuously absent (a huge revenue generator for many LGBT publications).
The publication touts its photography, features poetry and carries interviews with accomplished players in the worlds of fashion, literature and the arts - gay as well as straight (e.g., in the Summer 2015 issue there was a profile of San Francisco Giants baseball player Hunter Pence). As part of its somewhat avant-garde vibe, the pages aren't numbered. Issue Four received attention for its feature on a James Franco interview with himself that broached the subject of his sexuality: "I like to think that I'm gay in my art and straight in my life. Although, I'm also gay in my life up to the point of intercourse, and then you could say I'm straight." Below are some photos that were published in issue Five:
At $12.99 FourTwoNine is a bit too pricey for my taste, and I find that Out (the largest circulation gay magazine) serves my interests in LGBT culture just fine. However, I'd be happy to pick it up if I again see it in the office, or if I find it in the waiting rooms of my doctor, dermatologist or eye doctor.