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The New Media

Magazines aimed at Latinos are hot properties. They cover everything from politics and lifestyle to entertainment and news for a burgeoning population who feels ignored by the mainstream coverage.

November 19, 1996|MICHAEL QUINTANILLA | Times Staff Writer

Seidy Lopez sits under a dryer, her hair in plastic rollers the size of coffee mugs, her bitsy body squeezed into a Betsey Johnson gold micro-mini and gold clingy top. A photographer, stylist and makeup artist hover around the gilded image of Latina va-va-voom in an East Los Angeles nail salon.

"The trend is gonna be gold, gold, gold," says Christy Haubegger, gesturing toward the co-star of "Mi Vida Loca."

The fashion photos will be featured in the February issue of Latina magazine, a bilingual lifestyle publication; Haubegger is its energetic publisher and lately, she feels as if she has struck gold. Pure oro.

Barely a year old and begun as a quarterly with more than $5 million in start-up money, Latina has newsstand sales exceeding 150,000 and 15,000 subscribers. Next summer it will go monthly, way ahead of Haubegger's plan.

Something similar is happening at Si magazine, whose paid circulation hit 50,000 at the end of its first year. Publisher Joie Davidow will take the quarterly--which focuses on art, culture and high-profile literary Latinos--bimonthly next spring and looks to reach 75,000 in circulation in 1997.

It seems as if publishers have finally discovered the U.S. Latino population. Armed with U.S. Census Bureau statistics, marketing surveys and media studies, they've learned that the Latino population is the country's fastest growing ethnic group, is projected to be the largest minority in the next decade and has a youthful (median age of 24), college-educated, burgeoning middle class.

According to marketers, Latinos also are an untapped multi-mix of people: multilingual, multicultural and a multimillion-dollar market ripe for advertisers, which, like other industries, are interested in new revenue streams. They want a piece of the $228-billion action, the estimated spending power of 27 million Latinos throughout the country.

While a handful of business- and general-interest magazines like Hispanic and Hispanic Business have been around for many years, the red-hot trend today, says Shelly Lipton, president of New York-based Latin Reports, a media analysis agency, is reaching Latino readers that mainstream publications have ignored for too long.

"If you are a Latino in this country, you are acculturating but you're not shedding your affection for the Latino culture. And that's what these newer magazines are about," Lipton says.

Among the many hot new titles on newsstands:

* Urban: The Latino Magazine, aimed at inner-city twentysomethings.

* Latinos, for aficionados of politics and bicultural issues.

* Frontera, for Latinos hip on music, entertainment and attitude.

* Generation N~, for Latinos into Cuban culture.

* Moderna, que linda! LATINA Style, Estylo, all for Latinas big on fashion, fitness, relationships, sex and gender issues, finances, investments and travel.

* People en Espan~ol, for lovers of celebrities, entertainment and human interest stories.

* Newsweek en Espan~ol, for Latinos interested in U.S., international and Latin American news.

* POZ en Espan~ol, a magazine that hopes to reach the HIV community.

If you speak English or Spanish, if you're bilingual or converse in Spanglish, Tex-Mex or Cubanese, there's a magazine to suit your lingo, your generation, your gender--and sexual orientation--and your politics.

Publishers and media companies such as Time Inc., Essence Communications Inc. and Newsweek Inc. are responding because Latinos are tired of being largely excluded from mainstream publications.

And advertisers--Revlon, American Express, the Gap, Nordstrom, General Motors, JCPenney, Gillette, Colgate, Philip Morris, Bulova, banks, insurance companies and health care providers--are reacting positively, according to most editors and publishers.

Put it all together and you've got a formula for success, says Jack Feur, columnist and West Coast bureau chief of Inside Media, a media-buying publication for magazines, newspapers, movie studios and ad agencies.

"Those of us in Hispanic marketing for the last decade have been saying, 'This is coming and you should be ready,' " Feur says.

Haubegger and other editors say they started their publications because most Latinos don't relate to mainstream magazines.

"You don't see our faces in fashion layouts or in stories and ads in the mainstream publications," Haubegger says. She recalls a fashion spread in Vogue last spring that was disturbing to her and her staff. Standing near a tall, thin model in a designer dress was an elderly, overweight Mexican woman. "It made me cry. She was being used as a prop, not as a human being."

Haubegger says her readers--upwardly mobile, college-educated Latinas in their 20s and 30s--want stories that showcase Latinas as role models. "They want to be successful businesswomen, but they also want to know how to make low-fat enchiladas."

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