For the latest entry in the sweepstakes of pop culture magazines doling out their version of the cutting edge, turn to the newest arrival just hitting newsstands, Bleach.
Yes, that's irony you detect in the name. The inaugural issue is neither colorless nor sanitized, though designers lavishly use white space. Underlining the point: the cover shot of Sudanese-born model-of-the-moment Alek Wek, who editor in chief Mike McCullough notes slightly sheepishly "wasn't a superstar when we shot her." These things do happen.
Bleach expects to stick out among the growing pile of books promising the coolest to the cool by showcasing less fashion and celebrity stories and more rising and established fringe artists. "If you want art now, you have to turn to high-brow magazines strictly focused on it," says McCullough. "I think our reader wants a little more than art--style, fiction, lifestyle--but they still have a strong interest in art." The debut features, for instance, L.A. artist Llyn Foulkes, 12-year-old model/actor Mischa Barton and adult-film maker Matt Zane.
With a mission to operate outside the mainstream and ambitions of international interest (each issues's 50,000 copies will be splattered around the world), headquarters are away from cosmopolitan capitals--situated, in fact, a few miles from the beach in Orange County. Costa Mesa, its home, already claims several influential brands in the global youth fashion and sports markets, as well as a place in alternative music history.
And McCullough refused to commute or move his family from Laguna Niguel. Besides, he and a few Bleach editors produced another pop mag, Hot Lava, there until its publisher pulled out last year; they didn't even have to leave the old offices.
Remaining in Orange County appealed to Bleach Publisher Coby Klein too, who relocated there to be near his power boat. On top of competition racing, the 28-year-old Klein, a real estate investor whose family wealth is in oil and a couple of media entities in Texas, has big hopes for his new company, Klein Publishing. Bleach, which expects to publish 11 issues a year, is the first in a family of titles he plans to launch and acquire. James Vowell, former editor and publisher of the Los Angeles Reader, serves as president and editorial director.
So how will Bleach deliver hip? McCullough points to his youthful staff. "They're all out and about and not stuck in this office." Senior editor David Carpenter was in London to profile up-and-comers there. And newly appointed fine arts editor Mat Gleason lives in Los Angeles, where he publishes Coagula, a magazine McCullough describes as the National Enquirer of the art world. "Sometimes we'll be wrong, " he says. "But when we put our heads together, we can come up something that is right on target."