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Chrome-loving celebs like to soup up even the most upscale autos. The new Dub magazine tells us all about it.

May 21, 2000|SOREN BAKER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Dub magazine may not ring a bell to most people, but guests at its Voodoo Lounge launch party last month included Latrell Sprewell of the New York Knicks, Derek Fisher of the Lakers and rapper-actor Ice-T.

Not a bad turnout for the Santa Fe Springs-based bimonthly, which was founded by a trio of young entrepreneurs who say they financed the venture with personal loans. The magazine, which takes its name from street slang for "20" and refers to 20-inch after-market wheels, is aimed at people who want to read about the tricked-out cars their favorite entertainers and sports stars own.

"A lot of people are seeing these athletes and stars signing these multimillion-dollar deals, but not a lot of people know where this money is going," said Haythem Haddad, 24, co-founder and creative director of Dub. "People are interested in that."

He and his partners, Myles Kovacs, the magazine's editor, and Herman Flores, director of publication, both 26, are all car enthusiasts. Kovacs and Flores have backgrounds in automotive wholesale and retail. They partnered with Haddad in 1996 when they developed Insider, a magazine devoted to nightclubs and entertainment.

All three knew that consumers were spending thousands of dollars to upgrade their cars--whether driving the fanciest top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz or the most downscale Toyota.

Dub's first cover features Sprewell, who owns a high-end auto equipment shop in San Gabriel where patrons regularly spend $10,000 or so to enhance their cars. On Dub's cover, Sprewell sits in his 2000 Mercedes CLK convertible, gazing sternly at the camera.

The writing in Dub may not be graceful but readers, theoretically, will respond to the stars, their cars and sentences such as this: "Spree's Benz sits on 19-by-8-inch chrome three-piece Lowenhart BSD's with Pirelli P7000 235/35/19 tires in the rear. It's equipped with an AMG sport body kit. The lowered suspension consists of after-market H&R CLK 430 lowering springs."

The Dub team met Sprewell at the grand opening of the basketball player's store. Once they realized he was a car fanatic who owns a small fleet, they approached him about posing for their new magazine.

Rapper B-Real of Cypress Hill is shown with his 1999 Lexus GS300. And actor-comedian Bill Bellamy posed with his 1997 black Eddie Bauer Ford Expedition ("I had it totally redone . . . took all the bumpers off, took all the chrome off, made it all black, took the original wheels off . . . put a custom grill in. . . . Put the stereo custom, put wood grain in it--the only thing I didn't do is put some TV monitors in it. . . . Now, I'm like, you know what? I want TVs.").

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Celebrities aren't the only ones who will be featured in Dub's pages, say the founders. Record company executives and clothing manufacturers are among the young, hip taste makers who will be covered--as long as they have flashy cars and are willing to talk about them.

"We're showing young executives, rappers, ball players that are into this subculture that no one is paying attention to because it's street," said Kovacs.

Although it's too early to tell whether Dub will entrench itself in the car marketplace the way Lowrider magazine has, its distributor is optimistic.

"We're getting a good response from the magazine," said Russ Warner, president of Warner International Periodical Services Inc., which also distributes such niche lifestyle magazines as California Homes and Endangered Species.

The second issue ($3.99) hit newsstands and stores including Barnes & Noble, Borders Books and Music and Tower Records last week with two different covers. Boxer Mike Tyson shows off his $800,000 XJ-220 Jaguar on one; rapper Snoop Dogg poses with his 1997 Lincoln Navigator on the other.

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