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Metropolis / So SoCal

Eponymous Emporiums

July 07, 2002|LINA LECARO

The summer blockbusters are upon us, along with the inevitable hang-wringing over the global reach of movie franchising. But amid all the sequels, video games and action figures, yet another marketing behemoth is uncoiling its tentacles in Los Angeles: the magazine tie-in. If these magazine-owned or -licensed stores are any evidence, we can rest assured that the publishing world is bravely doing its part to erase the line between editorial content and merchandise.

Once rife with carefully coordinated outfits and earnest essays on popularity, seventeen magazine may still speak for the all-American teenage girl--but today's girl dyes her hair platinum and reads articles titled "Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll: We find out why so many teens get wasted before getting it on." Tinseltown's spanking-new commercial mecca at the Hollywood & Highland complex includes a boutique that uses the popular monthly's name under a licensing agreement. Adjacent to the under-21 dance club 17 (pronounced "one-seven"), Seventeen offers trendy Britney Spears-style threads from labels such as Frankie B. and Michael Stars. Unfortunately, not many underagers (except Britney herself) can afford them. Prices range from $28 for a T-shirt to $120 for jeans to $200 for fancy tops and jackets. Seventeen/6801 Hollywood Blvd., 3rd floor, #361; (323) 461-8417

Devoted to "Asian Pop Culture and Beyond," 8-year-old indie publishing phenom giant robot has evolved from homemade 'zine to glossy magazine and still operates out of founder Eric Nakamura's West L.A. garage. Giant Robot investigates topics such as Japanese animation, Hong Kong martial arts films and "the return of Cambodian psychedelic rock." Its cozy shop opened in October 2001 and carries comics, toys and books from Japan and China, as well as the magazine's own line of T-shirts. Hot sellers include the psychedelic Hello Kitty-like character "afro ken" (a cute little dog with a puffy hairdo) on stickers and stationery. Giant Robot/2015 Sawtelle Blvd.; (310) 478-1819

Sure, vice magazine features articles such as "Dirty Deeds: Black Market Nuclear Bombs Are Dirt Cheap," but it's hard to escape the feeling that the merchandise is the message here. The Web site of the VICE "empire" says the free monthly is for "tastemakers (like us) who indulge in everything from hip hop and punk to skateboarding and fashion as well as scatology and sexual perversities" and crows that "by offering the magazine for free at key music, fashion and leisure locations, the magazine enjoys a 100% pick-up rate and massive public response." Unsurprisingly, said "key" locations include VICE boutiques in New York, Toronto, London and Montreal (the magazine's home base), along with an industrial-looking space that opened last August in L.A.'s Silver Lake neighborhood. The store features edgy urban wear for men and women from Canada, Sweden, England, Paris, Spain and Australia. The clothing--from Miss Sixty's punky tops to Adidas' limited-edition track suit and sneaker reissues--embodies the magazine's hip street flair. Vice/3938 Sunset Blvd.; (323) 661-2741

Imagine a naughty Starbucks, and you'll get a feel for hustler hollywood. Like Larry Flynt's adult magazine, this colorful, Flynt-owned Sunset Strip emporium is unabashedly sexy, glorying in risque novelties, videos and clothes. Still, its bright and cheery atmosphere (there's a general-interest magazine stand, coffee bar and rock 'n' roll-meets-hot-rodder-style boutique clothing for sale) actually makes the provocative merchandise seem kind of tame. You're more likely to see rockers, clubgoers and middle-aged tourists in the aisles than seedy types in trench coats. Hustler Hollywood/8920 W. Sunset Blvd.; (310) 860-9009.

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