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November 2015 saw the official, final death knell of the Lad’s Mag, that once titanic publishing force. With the cancellation of FHM and Zoo, the purge much demanded by moralisers was complete. Those two magazines joined Loaded, Front, Nuts and the slightly more esoteric Bizarre as relics of a darker, pre-millennial world of sexism and smut – the Benny Hills of their day, and dealt with just as brutally as that hugely popular comedian once was by the television company that he had made millions for.
With the death of these magazines, you might wonder: what next for male readers? After all, FHM was still selling 67,000 copies, which might be rather less than it did at its peak, but is clearly no small beer. Obviously, there were 67,000 (or more) readers who still wanted what FHM had to offer and were willing to pay for it in print form. Where do those readers go now?
A look at the “men’s interests” section in WH Smiths is increasingly depressing, if only because it is clear that no one has any idea what men are interested in anymore. There are certainly plenty of options for the hobbyist, the sports fan or the film and music lover, as well as Serious Business And World Affairs Magazines, but the broader cultural magazines seem decidedly humourless, stuffed-shirt affairs aimed at the New Man, the Metrosexual and the consciously upwardly mobile. These magazines seem to remain on a sound footing, and are unlikely to raise the ire of the very vocal pressure groups that did for the Lad’s Mag.
Perhaps the male reader is happy with his lot.
Or perhaps he isn’t.
If we accept that the era of the Lad’s Mag is over – as much the victims of a self-inflicted malaise that saw these magazines become a sad parody of their earlier, more vibrant and vital incarnations as they were brought down by a cabal of shouty internet warriors – then what comes next?
The Lad’s Mag ultimately fell because they refused to grow up. So perhaps it is time to offer a more grown up alternative.
Now, when we say ‘grown up’, we certainly don’t mean ploddingly dull and worthy. There are already plenty of magazines fulfilling that need. Instead, we mean something for the reader who has put aside childish things – football, nipple-free shoots by Lucy Pinder, oafish Brit-crime films, banter – but who retains the elements of the rascal, the miscreant, the cad, the bounder, the loafer… the reprobate. The fellow who may have developed finer (or possible lower) tastes in all things, yet who has not yet submitted to tedious conformity. The malcontent who knows that the good life needs a decidedly wicked side.
We might call this a “gent’s mag”, if it wasn’t for the fact that (a) that phrase has long been used to describe a more top shelf sort of publication and (b) we want this to be as much for the lady as the gentleman. After all, women of taste are equally starved of wastrel culture, and we are not scoundrel enough to deny them the joys we have to offer – why should the ladies been condemned to a world of vapid fashion, true life confessionals and shaming celeb rags?
So we are aiming our magazine at the modern contrarian. The lady or gentlemen who knows that style and fashion are very distinct things, with only the former being important. The lover of the esoteric and the arcane. The nostalgist who is not blindly tethered to the past. The admirer of beauty and grotesquery. The sort of person who simply can’t resist tweaking the nose of convention and who cares not one bit for conventional wisdom. A decadent freethinker, a rebel, a nuisance and an iconoclast.
And yes, we will be available in physical, print format, the good Lord and interest willing. Not with a 67,000 print run, of course, but available for the elite to enjoy in all its papery goodness. More information on how, why and where soon.
This isn’t an ironic, humorous pastiche. It’s not a self-consciously cool hipster bible. It’s not an underground culture guide. Those magazines already exist, and good luck to them. We’re not trying to compete. Instead, The Reprobate aims to be the lifestyle magazine for those people who are currently unrepresented.
We know who you are. And we’re coming for you.
Should you wish to learn more, offer your services, make suggestions or otherwise support The Reprobate, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.