At 184 pages long, it is with some trepidation that I pick up the
new gay monthly Fable. How many pages to be taken up with endless sex
classified ads? How many more features on gay clubbing can we take? What
more can it offer the gay market that Attitude and Gay Times don't
Discerning gay readers can prepare themselves for a pleasant surprise -
a ban on sex classified ads and personal contacts demonstrates Fable's
desire for an upmarket positioning to differentiate itself from its
This has led to a plethora of impressive advertisers for its first
issue, including that of Lever Faberge (admittedly, for Persil Black
Velvet), Apple Mac, Dunhill, Suzuki and Swatch. Enough to interest other
major advertisers, I should think.
Fable is certainly a glossy offering with a polished design, but what
makes it even more unusual is that it has been launched by
queercompany.com - a rare example of a dotcom reversing into traditional
publishing. But this lends it greater credentials in terms of really
understanding its market - affluent, urban, professionals, confident of
themselves. And this magazine is full of confident stuff - articles by
Julie Burchill, interviews with Zoe Wannamaker on her new West End play
and Todd Solondz (the director of Happiness) on his new film, plus an
intelligent think-piece on the war in Afghanistan.
There are predictable elements to this new magazine - indicating that
this isn't so much a revolution, but more an evolution for the upmarket
gay readers: another review of something Marlene Dietrich, another set
of horoscopes (does every magazine need one?), the fashion pages are
peppered with Attitude-esque visuals - all have a "seen this before"
But there is enough new to spark my interest - the design news section
is spot-on and the Nicky Haslam monthly cellphone conversation looks
like it could be fun over time. There's a book section of substance, for
once, and the fashion interview with the "rough-diamond" Roland Mouret
is pretty original. It's a bit of a mix of i-D, Vogue and Wallpaper, all
with an intelligent and creative gay perspective.
So what is its commercial potential? Its combination of mainstream
advertisers, innovative main features and slick and intelligent
editorial style should lead to broader appeal than just the gay market.
Even at £3.20 a month, a quick poll of my upmarket discerning
friends (currently dining in Soho) indicates this is a fair price.
The name Fable feels a bit weak - but I'm sure they've done
Publisher: Queer Company
Initial print run: 50,000
Full-page colour ad rate: £4,312
Advertisers include: Grand Marnier, Swatch, Paul Smith, Persil Black
Velvet, Apple, Christian Dior