Everybody who has ever scheduled a coffee date with me knows that I am usually fashionably late. Once in a while, however, it happens that I am on time or even early. In this case I usually have to find something to do, otherwise I’ll just eat out of boredom. I’m a smart time killer. If you want to meet me in my natural time killing habitat your best chances are located in either MOTTO or DO YOU READ ME? – my favorite magazine shops in Berlin.
It was exactly on a hot Tuesday time killing afternoon when I met him. He is very good looking, sophisticated, well-read and street as well as book smart. His name is HELLO MR. – the magazine for men who date men. Ryan Fitzgibbon is the founder and creative director of the mag. I found him for an interview somewhere in New York where he’s currently based and working.
HELLO MR.’s first issue appeared in 6,000 copies worldwide April 2013. Next issue is due October 2013 (printed just like the first issue in Berlin) and here is what expects you in it:
Describe Hello Mr. in a single sentence:
A gay magazine we can all relate to.
How did the magazine come to life?
I left my job as a communication designer for a strategic consultancy in 2012 in search of something that I could feel total ownership over. I had always wanted to work in publishing, but felt that working within the constructs of someone else’s vision was going to leave me right back where I started. Creating my own magazine allowed me to the opportunity to see something all the way through from concept to completion. Though, Hello Mr. is truthfully just me merging of my favorite things: magazines, design, writing, and men.
How big of a risk are you taking with Hello Mr.?
The magazine industry is inherently risky, but the audience I’m reaching has, in my opinion, been largely underserved so I feel pretty alright about the longevity of the brand I’m building. In terms of content, I tend to favor submissions from lesser-known contributors, which I suppose in the realm of sales on the newsstand can be non-traditional and thus risky. The norm for publications is to use celebrity (or sex) to stand out on the shelf, but as a reader, I’m much more interested in hearing from someone who’s story relates to my experience and that I can take something meaningful away from.
What distinguishes Hello Mr. from other gay publications?
When I first set out to define this, the biggest challenge was in shaping the brief for contributors, only having a strong point of view but no back orders, or an established tone of voice to refer to. Especially given that the category has a precedent that bends mostly towards erotica, pop culture, and politics (three things that are all part of a healthy consumer appetite, I’ll add).
The magazine’s tagline, “about men who date men,” helps do some of the lifting in distinguishing it from traditional gay publications. This is just my coy way of saying gay, but of course there are many other shades of gay, like the married variety or the more casual types. I Just needed an opening line that triggered that temporary pause to capture people’s attention as I pitched the concept around. Leading the conversation saying I was launching a “new gay lifestyle magazine” wasn’t going to do the trick.
Hello Mr. is thoughtful, realistic, honest, and imperfect. It’s also timeless in many respects, which is an important quality for a print magazine to retain. No one wants to read yesterdays gossip or political debate after its passed, but the next time you go through a breakup or just need someone who totally gets you, Hello Mr. will still be there to cuddle with.
Relationships, Love and Sex are topics we could expect from Hello Mr. and they were presented in a very original way – what other topics are coming in the future issues?
All the anecdotes about dating that our readers responded well to in the premier issue will definitely be back in the October release of issue 02. In addition, this time around we’ll hear from several artists and musicians, discover what new habits all 20-somethings should adopt once 30 hits, and maybe pick up some tips on how and when to text your ex-whatever. Commentary on the concept of masculinity and stories showcasing modern friendships continue the dialogue on the ever-evolving definition of gay culture, but to truly understand what defines us as a community, we round out the issue with a “Gay Livability Index” (and a healthy dose of satire, of course).
What newspapers or magazines are you subscribed to?
I don’t actually have any subscriptions at the moment. Mostly because since I left San Francisco in May of 2012, I’ve had ten different mailing addresses between Melbourne, Singapore, Sydney, and now Brooklyn and I couldn’t be bothered updating my mailing address and lugging magazines between each new place. Bookshops and magazine-ridden coffee houses have become my official source for commitment-free inspiration gathering (the camera roll on iPhone looks like a catalog for Printed Matter). I prefer an inconsistent diet when it comes to my printed media; Apartamento, Monocle, Fantastic Man, Esquire, COLORS, will always be pillars in my collection, but as I’ve dug deeper into the world of indie publishing, inspired by who’s doing interesting things around me, I’ve taken interest in upstarts like Underscore, Day Job, Apology, Kindling Quarterly, and Offscreen. A random mix for sure, and not surprisingly, all non-gay titles, though I do love BUTT and follow them obsessively to see what’s next after their recent, somewhat lackluster mini-BUTT.
What three things make a good magazine?
1. A strong point of view
2. Inspired contributors
3. A sense of humor
What’s your day job? What other passion projects are you working on?
Publisher, editor, creative director, sales rep, social media(tor), and email aficionado for Hello Mr. magazine. That’s pretty much it.
Magazine images by Daniel Seung Lee