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Dishing Dirt With the Kids

June 23, 1988|JOHN GABREE

Once upon a time, there were two kids from Hollywood who wanted more than anything to be famous.

This is how they accomplished their goal.

It used to be, if you wanted real dirt about celebrities, you could count on the National Enquirer and its eponymous rivals. Then the supermarket check-out counter was ordained the chief point of distribution, and the Enquirer and its ilk had to clean up their acts.

Now, when you want to find out who is being hassled by the police or getting evicted, being rude to waiters or stiffing his employees, recovering from facial surgery or sleeping around, you must look elsewhere. And in this town, inquiring minds turn to the Small Talk page of the Hollywood Kids, the one with "True Stories No Other Magazine Dares to Publish."

Distributed free in hip music and fashion outlets around town (and as far away as Laguna and San Francisco), the twice-monthly publication is the brainchild of two Hollywood natives, former model John Nichols and his partner, an erstwhile network cue card holder known only as Lance.

"People used to tell us, 'you guys always have the best gossip,' " Lance says. " 'You should have your own magazine.' " So, four years ago, they started handing out a photocopied newsletter, "more of a ragazine than a magazine," called the Hollywood Kids' Street Gossip. Within six months, they had a printer, paid advertising, a letters column and a shortened name.

Like Playboy in the early '60s, the turning point came with the addition of a regular interview. "At first the publicists would hang up on us," Lance admits, "so we had to go with celebrities who were a little down on their luck, like Tab Hunter or Edie Williams. It worked out great because our interviews got a reputation for being a little off the wall."

Regular features in the 10-page giveaway include the TV Trash Guide, highlighting the worst upcoming television programs (usually old movies too lame to make it to videocassette), a highly personal list of ins and outs, and snapshots of the famous and near-famous at press parties and after-hours clubs.

What keeps the fans coming back, though, is the catty Small Talk column based on tips from doormen, waiters, gas station attendants, salesgirls, hairdressers, fitness instructors, limousine drivers and other busybodies the Kids have courted. Even though there is nothing to call into question Lance's claim that "every word is true," many of the items are salacious or malicious enough, despite artful camouflaging, to leave you wondering how they get away with it.

Currently, the so-called Kids are distributing 15,000 copies. About 450 go to subscribers and a "substantial number" are mailed to agents, publicists and producers. The magazine shows a profit on a modest number of ads from film companies, hair salons and fitness centers, the Kids say.

For two years the hard-working duo also has produced an aggressively amateurish public access television show now carried twice a month locally and in 16 cable markets from New York City to San Francisco. For more than a year, they have been on radio station KPWR-FM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:10 a.m.

"We're not trying to be mean," Lance says. "And we're sorry if anyone's feelings get hurt. We're just having fun poking fun." If you miss the Hollywood Kids at your haberdashery--and they go fast--a 10-issue subscription costs $25. Write the Hollywood Kids, P.O. Box 691486, Los Angeles 90069.

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