Simon Kanter is editorial director at Haymarket Media, where he has launched many successful customer magazines including Army and Camouflage. Recently he reinvented FS (Forever Sports), a men’s sport and fitness magazine which is the second highest sold men’s lifestyle magazine in the UK.
As usual, we asked him to select a new issue, and old issue and one other thing…
A new issue
Got to be New York. Not The New Yorker but the brilliant, fortnightly news, views, loose screws and everything on a short fuse in the world’s greatest city. Brilliantly crafted, wonderfully eclectic, tonally never missing a beat, New York does what all good mags should do; it loves its audience, it loves its subject matter and it achieves what Gill Hudson, in her heyday as editor of the Radio Times, described as a new surprise on every page and a small treat for every reader.
New York is serious and measured, it is frivolous and fun, it is opinionated and loud. In recent issues, it has venerated its community (My New York), it has done heart rending journalism in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, has celebrated Ashley Graham, ‘the only supermodel with clothing tags bearing numbers like 14 and 16’ and has asked some really awkward questions of Mark Zuckerberg. It is quite simply an old school tour de force.
An old issue
So much to choose from; the peerless James Brown’s Loaded, Mark Ellen and David Hepworth’s Mojo and Q, the certainty and permanence of National Geographic, Marvin Scott Jarrett’s dazzling Raygun, the sheer exuberance of Smash Hits from which was born Nick Logan’s arrogant fashion icon The Face. But my choice, from the late 1990s, is the UK edition of Marie Claire.
Surprising maybe? Just another big fat glossy stuffed to the gunnels with fashion and lifestyle, beauty and celebrity, frocks and shoes and smellies? Yes – to all the above but Marie Claire was also original, shocking, prurient and unique. It did an extraordinary clever thing and took sordid real-life stories, dressed them up as ‘investigations’ and ‘campaigns’, gave them thousands of well written words set in sober, prosaic layouts and turned a ‘red top’ agenda into intellectual indulgence.
Here, from one single issue, the 10th birthday special edition in September 1998, is a sample menu from the feast:
The home of stripping: expert showgirls share their secrets.
What I wore when I fell in love – from glam rock gear to police uniforms six couples dress up for a rerun of their first encounters.
The men who are licensed to rape – convicted rapists and murderers are operating as legitimate minicab drivers to prey on their female passengers.
‘I fell in love with the man who was hired to kill me’.
‘Cuba: Healing Chernobyl’s children – why have the beaches of the Caribbean become a refuge for hundreds of young disaster victims from the Ukraine?’
Exchanging lives with a stranger – have you ever wondered what it would be like to live someone else’s life for a day?
And something else…
From New York magazine again, a picture of rare power from the aforementioned Hurricane Maria story – ‘100 days of darkness’ – and its chilling aftermath in Puerto Rico. The picture fills one spread of an eight-page punctuation of black and white shots by photographer Matt Black. It features the backs of four identical, refrigerated trucks and, in the foreground, a man with a ladder dressed in a protective white suit. The caption to the picture reads simply: ‘Trailers full of bodies’. It is a gob smacking moment. One of those haunting, ordinary yet extraordinarily chilling images you return to time and again. And each time, it feels like you’ve been punched in the gut.