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Millionaire: A Magazine for the Working Rich

October 05, 1987|JEANNINE STEIN | Times Staff Writer

The nouveaux riches finally have a magazine all their own.

It's called, ambitiously enough, Millionaire, and it's a magazine for the working rich, says president/publisher/editor-in-chief/creative director Douglas Lambert, who is targeting an audience with money to burn--or one that would like to have money to burn.

Included in the slick premiere October issue are profiles of richies Sam Walton of Wal-Mart stores and fashion designer Carolina Herrera, a story on private jets as corporate tools, luxury estates, an extensive spread on "the executive look" in fashion--and millionaire toys.

The magazine had a Tuesday night coming-out party at Jimmy's with a handful of millionaires, a sprinkling of celebrities (Cesar Romero, Esther Williams) and many publicists. Lambert and his wife, Jenny, were at a similar kickoff party in New York the night before.

From his West Palm Beach, Fla., offices, Lambert, with traces of a Tennessee drawl, said his new magazine was "not directed to the 'idle rich.' I have nothing against them, but the idle rich who are in their late 60s don't have as much interest in developing their life style. I don't think the idle rich spend that much money. They're older. They've already bought their Rolls-Royces, their furs. They're not into purchasing."

Changing Attitudes

The nouveaux riches are, Lambert added, and in a big way. "I think a lot of attitudes (toward wealth) are changing. I think the person out there who is earning money and wants to spend it on nice things . . . I have no problem with that. I think the attitudes of the '60s are gone.

"Money is a way to keep score," he added. "The business arena is a lot like the sports arena. And people like winners."

This is not Lambert's first venture in magazines. He shocked the publishing industry--and the world--when he introduced Playgirl magazine in 1973. Though psychologists at the time doubted that pictures of naked men were what women really wanted, the first issue printed 600,000 copies and sold out; the second print run was 2 million.

The magazine's name came from the successful Playgirl nightclub in Orange County that Lambert owned at the time. But the idea came from his wife. "I'll never forget the time I came home from the club," Lambert said, "and I told my wife that I wanted to come out with a magazine with pictures of nude girls. She said she had a better idea--why not have pictures of nude men? So you see, it was a female's idea."

Now he has turned his attention toward the rich and the clothed. The idea for Millionaire came to him in 1977 when he still owned Playgirl, which he then decided to sell in order to pursue his new idea. The planned debut was for 1980 but Lambert said he went through 10 prototypes before he hit on one that he liked. In between, he started up another publication, Chartering magazine, in 1982 for the yachting community. He sold that magazine in 1985.

Trial and error took Millionaire from a business-oriented format to one that now includes life style features on fashion, wine and travel.

Timing was another factor.

"Ten, 15, 20 years ago you had three different markets," Lambert said, "the poor, the middle class and the rich. Now that people's earning capacity has increased, and women as well as men are working, it's changed. We have the poor, the rich and the affluent, and this affluent class has more spending dollars. As time goes on, their taste levels increase and so do their buying habits."

According to Bureau of the Census statistics, median individual income increased 18.8% from 1983 to 1986, while inflation was only 10.3%. And according to the IRS, 4,414 people made at least $1 million in 1980; in 1984, that number had risen to 14,834.

Quintessential Reader

Larry Flax may be the quintessential reader of Millionaire, although he admits he's not an avid magazine reader and hasn't seen this one. Flax is a former lawyer who, with fellow attorney Rick Rosenfield, started California Pizza Kitchen restaurants and has jumped into the millionaire bracket. Last year he bought a Rolls-Royce.

Although "kind of shy" about his status, Flax said he would welcome a magazine that offered ideas on what to do with his money. "I guess as you move up in the world, you have more money to spend and you start to think about how to redecorate, about buying a new home. All of a sudden I realize I can buy art. How do I do it? And clothes. There are stores that basically have toys for the rich. I'm just new at this."

The proliferation of such upscale magazines as Architectural Digest, Connoisseur and the new Conde Nast publication Traveler indicates that the world may now be ready for Millionaire.

But is there a saturation level for these "best of everything" publications?

Philip Herrera, executive editor of Connoisseur, thinks not. "I really think too much has been made of the word upscale ," he said. "I think there are a lot of people in this niche. It's not a new niche, it's just got a new name, that's all. As for people who aim at millionaires, I think that's fine. There may be room there, too. The working rich--that's a nice idea."

Yet Herrera drew the line at considering Millionaire magazine--which he said he had not yet seen--direct competition. "You have to be as smart as we are to be in direct competition," he sniffed.

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