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SUNDAY BRUNCH | Culture Watch

The Pictures Translate Well

December 14, 1997|KEVIN BAXTER

The newsstands have been overrun in recent years by spiffy magazines hoping to hook the country's ever-growing Spanish-speaking population. But are Latinos ready for their own Playboy?

Fernando Paramo and the investors behind Pasadena-based Grupo Siete International certainly think so because they've sunk millions into developing Playboy: Un Estilo de Vida (Playboy: A Lifestyle). The monthly, which debuted in October, mimics its English-language cousin's appearance and philosophy but the content is distinct.

"If we published the same exact material that Playboy has, [Latinos] would read it but the interest would not be there," says Editor in Chief Paramo. "We have the same concept as far as the magazine, but all of the articles, all of the themes, all of the work is ours."

The first three issues carried stories on such matters as the travels of Columbus and homosexuals in professional soccer. Future articles will focus on Spanish in the U.S. media, the golden age of Cuban music and the first Chicanos. "It's a celebration of the Latino culture," says Paramo, who spent 13 years as the sports editor of La Opinion, the L.A. daily.

Then there's the, ahem, pictures. The Spanish-language Playboy featured Colombian Maria Checa and Spain's Lisa Marie Ortega, two up-and-coming models, on its first two covers, although two of its first three Playmates were borrowed from the English-language magazine. Like the 16 other Playboy licensees worldwide, Playboy: Un Estilo de Vida has rights to use not only the Playboy name and logo, but most of the magazine's content as well.

And despite the reservations some segments of the community might have about a journal featuring photos of nude women, Paramo says the magazine has been well-received. "This is now innocent compared to what you see on TV. You would probably have to be living in a cave not to be exposed to [what] we have in this magazine now."

Paramo is hoping to have 350,000 subscribers in the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico within two years, and is concentrating distribution efforts in Latino neighborhoods.

Progreso, si?

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