The year was 1994, March 1994.
In the space of few months a number of gay magazines arrived on the market in Britain. The magazine industry has discovered a new consumer group to target. Three new-style gay magazines–**Diva, *Attitude and Phase— were different to publications such as Gay Times. These glossy lifestyle magazines targeted lesbians & Gays as a new consumer group.
Independently owned Phase was Britain’s first gay style magazine, competing directly with the leaders in that market, including Arena, GQ and Esquire. The first issue, was glossy and stylish enough to have prompted W H Smith to circulate a memo to its stores telling them to display it with the other style magazines and not with the other gay and sex publications on the top shelf.
Peter Cummings, then 32, having previously set up the biggest gay publishing house in Britain, Prowler Press. Blase, the new firm he has started to publish Phase, was funded by a group of colleagues including Wanda Goldwag, director of international foreign exchange for Thomas Cook, and Ivan Massow, a financial adviser who presents the financial news on Scottish TV. According to Mr Cummings: ‘The pink pound has never been more fiercely chased. The spending power and brand loyalty of gay consumers are not to be ignored lightly.’
The Phase ethos: The important point is that all other gay magazines have a message of being oppressed and having problems and being arrested. Our message is that it’s great to be gay, we’re having a really good time, come and join the party.’
Even the film director Derek Jarman, who was dying of Aids, was upbeat and hedonistic in the first issue. He writes: ‘I’ll have a state funeral, send all the boys to saunas, get them suntanned so they can march on the streets of London quite naked, bronzed and good-looking. Turn the House of Commons into a back-room for the under-21s for a night. I hope boys will carry on falling in love with boys and girls with girls, and they’ll find no way to change that.’
There were 5 issues in total. The final issue coincided with the archivists end of College term. So what happened to Phase? Phase had paved the way when Attitude and Diva took to the field running, they didn’t look back. With bigger backers they took no prisoners and can be found on a shelf near you at every good book shop.
*Attitude British lifestyle magazine owned by Attitude Media Ltd. The first issue appeared in May 1994.
** Diva is a leading lesbian periodical in the UK. It was launched March 1994 by Millivres Prowler Group Ltd., who also produce the Gay Times.
& for your next trick! Can anyone find a copy of PHASE 5??