Before there was Maxim, the fast-growing magazine of the moment for young men, Ray Gun and Bikini already were reaching a segment of this elusive audience with edgy graphics, arresting photos and a plugged-in sensibility.
Ray Gun, a music and culture magazine that featured a fold-out cover of Beck in January and has Fatboy Slim on its February cover, was launched in 1992. Bikini, more of a general-interest title, followed a year later, also from Ray Gun Publishing Inc. in Santa Monica. The latter magazine has specialized in sexy photo shoots of young stars, such as the increasingly popular Jennifer Love Hewitt of Fox's "Party of Five," its December cover girl.
Although Ray Gun and Bikini have been synonymous with Marvin Scott Jarrett, the founding editor in chief and publisher now is becoming only a consultant to the monthlies.
Jarrett and his wife, Jaclynn B. Jarrett, executive publisher of the magazines, have sold their majority stake in Ray Gun Publishing for an undisclosed sum to company management and an outside investor, who want to grow the circulations above their current 125,000-copy levels. Meanwhile, in a significant segue, the Jarretts have formed Pop Media and are preparing to launch Nylon, a bicoastal fashion and lifestyle magazine for women in their 20s, on April 6.
"The March issues [of Ray Gun and Bikini] may be the last ones to list me as editor, but I moved out of the Ray Gun offices, and I'm focusing 150% right now on Nylon," Jarrett said.
Despite his background, he went on, creating a magazine for women is not a stretch for him.
"I've been interested in doing a women's magazine for years," he said. "I think I incorporated a lot of elements in Ray Gun that made it a crossover magazine. I added fashion three years ago.
"I'm a fan of fashion as it relates to pop culture. I'm also a photography aficionado. This is the right time, and I've got the right people to do this with."
His partners in the new venture include supermodel Helena Christensen, who acts as creative director. Nylon's art director is Madonna Badger, who worked at Esquire and Allure before joining Calvin Klein and putting Marky Mark in the designer's underwear. Mark Blackwell, who had been editorial director of Ray Gun Publishing, holds that position with Nylon.
Jarrett, 38, who lives in Los Angeles and set up Nylon's West Coast office in Andre Balazs' Standard Hotel in West Hollywood, also has been spending a lot of time in New York as he tracks the fashion industry and scouts locations for a New York office. He plans to distribute 300,000 copies of Nylon's spring premiere on newsstands and follow with two more issues in the fall and 10 next year.
"I'll be doing 40 pages of fashion and 10 to 15 pages of beauty in every issue," he said.
Liv Tyler, photographed and interviewed by Christensen, will appear on the cover of the premiere. Other features will focus on the actor Ryan Philippe and the rock group Blur. A mission statement reads, "Nylon will appeal to independent thinkers who can handle radical ideas."
Jarrett listed Polo Jeans, Guess, Union Bay, Burberrys, Bacardi and various cigarette brands among the advertisers committed to his first issue.
As for the look of Nylon, he laughed and promised: "It'll be a hyper-legible magazine this time."
After all, one of the raps against Ray Gun for a long while was its poor readability--much of the typography was purposely obscured amid a chaos of images and colors.
"It was all about the blending of images and type," he recalled. "I thought, 'Heck, it was only rock 'n' roll.' But now, I want to be able to convey content as something equally important."
Paul Colford's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.