2006 brings a new look for Clikque—as you know, one of the premium sponsors of Rod 2.0—which by now should be in your mailbox or at a friendly neighborhood newsstand or bookstore. This year, the magazine celebrates its seventh year of publication and now boasts an impressive new design and layout. But before diving into the issue, there are a few production notes: At close to 70 pages, it's the largest issue yet. With the heavier paperstock and perfect binding introduced last month, the extra pages add even more weight to the publication. Just a few months ago, the magazine was produced in the smaller, digest format that many of us had grown accustomed to; now, it's a slimmer Genre, Vibe or Out.
Let's go between the pages. There are some engaging editorials, fashion layouts, lifestyle news and the monthly Clikque hottie.
Everyone knows the first thing that grabs our attention.
Hot men. Advertising. Last month, we were happy to see that Sean John signed on with a full-page spot. This month, kudos to Dwight and his team for landing a full-page Stoli vodka spot. The January issue has more than enough appetizers, meat and potatoes to satisfy most readers:
Noted HIV and social activist Phill Wilson measures a year in the life of the AIDS pandemic; Michael Rochelle interviews Cleo Manago; Lorenzo Robertson interviews the ever-fabulous RuPaul; Herndon L. Davis essays inspiration and the New Year; Michael Gibson interviews the multi-talented Billy Porter; Ryan Lee catches up with Atlanta nightlife personality Sophia McIntosh; DJ and promoter T-Pro has the latest music industry news and reviews; Finally, yours truly essays the year in review in words, pictures and commentary.
The issue features three in-depth interviews: Cleo Manago, RuPaul and Billy Porter. Michael Gibson's Q & A with the latter perfectly encapsulates the new Clikque style; Porter is out, proud and unabashedly self-confident. For instance, this is Billy's description of his years languishing at one of the major record labels: "The music industry has no idea to do with a black faggot who can go toe-to-toe with their divas. But they need to get ready, it's a new day!" The interview was conducted before Porter's November appearance on the nation's number one talk show, which he chatted up: "I'm going to be on Oprah! I done died and went to heaven!"
Fashionistas will be happy to see that the January issue boasts 21 pages of men, clothes, accessories and other daily essentials. (Assuming that you're like us and consider Versace and D&G underwear "daily essentials.") The three layouts are: "The Chill Factor," hot winter fashions photographed by Ahmer Khan and styled by Curtis Davis; "Bare Essentials," starring cover model Maurice, photography by Karen Detrick and Curtis Davis producing; and lastly, in the final pages of the magazine, "The Takeover," a wonderful retro layout shot at New York City's Luke & Leroy, photographed by Mark Sanders and produced by Curtis Davis. The black and white photography and stark typeface are stunning.
Of the three fashion layouts, The Chill Factor is probably the most colorful. Besides being attracted to the red backgrounds and the stunning chocolate model in the Tommy Hilfiger boxer briefs, the J. Lindeberg parka is hot-ta-def.
Cover model Maurice—a New Jersey kid who is a personal acquaintance of ours—is this month's Hot Stuff. He's interviewed and profiled in a sizzling 6-page underwear layout in The Bare Essentials. Without a doubt, this is the hottest layout that we've seen yet in the new Clikque. Maurice's styling in Versace, D&G and Moschino underwear, fur jackets, oiled up muscles and tattoos is soooo over-the-top—plus it's similar to the now legendary Gay or Rapper? look. Fans of the model will happy to learn that he's very gay, very single and looking: "I like a man who knows how to treat me and who's not scared of who he is. Oh, and he can't be conceited!" There's also some questions about posing nude, but we'll let you discover that when you buy the mag.
There's another 6-page spread that will appeal to your right brain, and that's the 2005 Year in Review editorial and pictorial created by your truly. Many of the stories will be familiar to regular readers of these pages, but there's a wealth of quotes, pictures and material from a variety of sources that you haven't seen here. Look for great quotes from Maurice Jamal, Keith Boykin, Shaquille O'Neal, Sheryl Swopes, Anthony Mackie, Jasmyne Cannick ... anyone and everyone who impacted our community.
There are a few smaller segments that have become quite impressive. The monthly health & nutrition spotlight is perfect for gym rats and anyone trying to live healthier; we tried the tomato and zucchini chicken, which was perfect for an after workout meal. And the "How Gay are You?" sidebar is priceless. We passed the quiz with flying colors.
Lastly, just a quick note on distribution. Recently, we were happy to see copies of Clikque in three Barnes & Nobles stores in New York City: Sixth and Greenwich Aves, Union Square and also the B&N across from the ABC News complex at 66th & Columbus. In Chicago, we've seen the magazine at Unabridged Books on Broadway, the city's premiere indie and lgbt bookseller, It looks like we'll be in Los Angeles later this month, so we scout the bookstores there for a report.