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Stylish Exposure Looking Around for More

January 05, 1989|GARRY ABRAMS | Times Staff Writer

When it began a little over a year ago, Exposure magazine was strictly a creature of Los Angeles, a little bimonthly in an oversize format with no ambitions beyond the city.

But that has changed with the current issue, which is being distributed nationally in about 90 cities as well as in Canada, Europe and Japan.

While the numbers involved are still small--a total of about 35,000 copies with 20,000 of those for this area--the increased distribution represents a major expansion of ambitions for Exposure, says publisher Henry M. Shea Jr., who graduated from USC in 1984 with a degree in public administration and "stumbled" into publishing after a planned career in Texas real estate evaporated.

Shea believes the magazine was able to sign a three-year contract with a national distributor because its blend of eye-catching photography, short profiles and articles about young musicians, actors and artists, fashion and the Los Angeles street scene has appeal well beyond the city limits.

But then Exposure has made a point of being noticed. Editor-in-chief Cavin Shorter, also a USC graduate, said that from the start the magazine has been sent to such strategic places as art galleries, advertising agencies, record companies, club owners and other haunts of the trend-conscious. In return, Exposure has attracted a fair share of local and national advertisers who help make the latest issue a thick 152 pages, compared to well under 100 pages in some earlier issues.

The result is a magazine that embraces undiscovered musicians, denizens of the social fringe and upscale consumer products, such as Camp Beverly Hills, Guess? and Benetton clothing and various brands of liquor.

Each issue generally is built around a theme--"Brits in Babylon" and "the '70s" to name a couple. The recent issue on the 1970s featured full-page photographs of such Me Decade landmarks as Richard Nixon, Patty Hearst, motorcycle river jumper and broken-bone expert Evel Knievel and film director Robert Altman, with brief updates on each. By far the funniest vignette was from Lance Loud who wrote his own recollection of what befell his family after it was made notorious by the landmark PBS documentary, "An American Family."

"In 1970, television ate my family," Loud wrote, noting that the documentary was "to home movies what Godzilla is to the garden-variety lizard." He also ruefully commented, "The Andy Warhol prophecy of 15 minutes of fame for any and everyone blew up on our doorstep."

But publisher Shea said Exposure, which bills itself as "the magazine for Los Angeles and beyond," really jelled only with the current issue--with actor Mickey Rourke on the cover--which surveys artistic and other rebels such as novelist William S. Burroughs, a Los Angeles street gang, the Animal Liberation Front, a Hell's Angels chapter president, actress Bette Davis and the band Guns N' Roses. A section called Expose spotlights rising talent in performance art, video and music.

"This particular issue looks like a real magazine," Shea said. ". . . It's taken us about six issues to get our identity down."

The issue's most striking feature is the photography, Exposure's strong point from the beginning. In addition to powerful portraits, the current issue contains a photo essay on runaway teen-agers in Los Angeles. In one photograph a group of teens slouches around a pair of candles in an abandoned house, the floor littered with potato-chip bags and beer cans.

Despite the leap to national distribution, the problem now, Shea said, is to find financial backing to consolidate Exposure's presence in the national magazine marketplace. Although there have been tentative offers to buy the magazine, Shea said he has no intention of giving up control of Exposure, adding that he hopes to make the magazine a monthly in about a year.

Ms. Honors Six

"Sweet" Alice Harris of Watts and Anne Archer of Bel-Air are among the six women to be named Ms. magazine's Women of the Year today at a breakfast in New York.

Harris, the mother of 11, was cited "for giving the children of Watts reason to hope and means to achieve." The "50ish" grandmother runs Parents of Watts, an organization that sponsors programs for the homeless, emergency food aid, voter registration and health seminars as well as projects to help educate, train and employ young people.

In its announcement of Harris' selection, the magazine reported: "As a welfare mother (then) with seven children, she joined Watts' looters for two days during the '65 rebellion. But she was also around to give advice when the architects and planners came to rebuild Watts after the riots."

Ms. praised Harris as a mediator of gang disputes and benefactor of unwed mothers. An unwed mother who had her first child at 13, Harris was praised because "her dedicated work creates opportunity, health and harmony for neglected Angelenos."

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