crack reporters at Free Williamsburg, namely myself and colleague Bret Nicely
(yes that's his real name) recently met with Shout magazine Publisher,
Ian Bassin, at the L Cafe. Shout is a New York-based monthly
that you are probably familiar with if you live in Williamsburg, the Village,
or the Lower East Side. Our matching demographic, the fact that we are neighbors
(Ian lives in Greenpoint and frequents the Turkey's Nest), and a general
respect for one another's publications (wellat least we love Shout)
prompted our meeting.
And damn is that L Cafe coffee strong. Here are the caffeinated highlights
from our conversation with some random info and commentary to boot. Quoted,
condensed, and paraphrased, all the characters cited below are real.
The Shout Demographic
Bret Nicely: "Do you know offhand
what your demographic is?"
Ian Bassin: "Our average reader
is about 26-years-old, makes 49 thousand a year, is interested in fringe
scenes... art, music, film, and fashion... is intellectual, tends to be
single, and is college-educated. That' s the blurb, which is great from
a marketing perspective because if you fit that profile and you are in Williamsburg,
or in New York, the whole world is watching what you do and what taste you
If a band makes it here, some 16-year-old in Kansas 10 years later is going
to be hearing them. So from a marketing perspective, if you hook this group
on something then its like a domino effect, which is how we compete. We
aren't going to reach 6 million people. We aren't Maxim."
Sex Behind the Printers
Two of their regular columnists are dating.
Hint: their first names start with M.
Who's Been on the Cover Lately?
RZA talking religion.
Molly Shannon looking HOT... really!
Cibo Matto looking damn cool.
Billy Bob Thornton looking anorexic, and scary.
Lollipops, Vaginas, and
Advertising During a Recession
Bassin: "Advertising is tough right
now. We have Wayne Wang in our upcoming issue (see May 2001) and he just
put out a really racy movie about a stripper and the interview gets into
whether or not there was actual sex taking place on screen. But their ad,
I read, was getting rejected a lot of places because it had a woman pulling
a lollipop out of her cunt.
So the creative team that did the ad decided to tone it down a bit by just
showing the woman's legs. And people were still rejecting it. So I basically
told our ad people, if they want to, let's run it as is. We're doing the
interview and whatever raciness they want to put in there, we'll run it.
And the weird thing is, at least this was our hypothesis at the office.
It seemed like instead of them being disturbed that the ad wasn't running
anywhere, they may have just been happy to save the advertising money since
things are so tough in this economy. There is a trickle down going on and
getting ads is tougher than it was last year at this time."
Williamsburg and Shout
Robert Lanham: "I noticed that
there are a lot of local ads in your most recent issue, I think I saw Enids
(a Greenpoint bar) in there."
"The great thing is that during a recession bars will always stay afloat,
you know, because whether times are good or bad people are going to drink.
I think we can really do a lot for the bars in Williamsburg and Greenpoint
just because Shout is highly visible in this neighborhood.
I get notes and letters from people basically saying thanks for helping
us get people in here."
Lanham: "Are you trying to cover
the Williamsburg and Brooklyn scene more?"
"I think that a lot of people who write for the magazine have lived
out here or are floating through on a regular basis. So I guess since
so many of our photographers, illustrators, and writers are sort of in
the community anyway, it just makes the most sense to provide some coverage.
According to our surveys, most of our readers are in the East Village,
Williamsburg, and Lower East Side. This is sort of our niche."
Currently, Shout is a refreshingly small group consisting of about
9 people, most of whom are in their twenties. They have two separate offices
in Manhattan. Ian says that Shout has traditionally tried to stay
away from big name columnists, preferring to find writers that can grow
into their own through Shout.
Despite this, a couple of big names are to be found in their pages. Jerry
Stahl, writer of Permanent Midnight (yes Ben Stiller starred in
the theatrical adaptation) and J.T.
Leroy (the coolest queen in New Yorkmaybe anywhere?) are on
Shouts' monthly roster.
J. T.'s novel, Sarah, is amazing if you haven't read it and will
be put to film soon by Gus Van Zant. It won't be any Robin Williams, fuzzy
And don't forget Saint Reverend Jen,
the self-proclaimed "patron saint of the uncool." She may be
less widely known, but is no less glamorous than the abovementioned.
People seem to like Shout because they know they can trust what
the writers have to say. Shout launches the first Saturday of every
month, so look for the June issue that has John Turturro on the cover.
Shout has a prison issue in the works where all the writing will
come from or be about being behind bars.
Email From Ian about Questions We Forgot to Ask
It (Shout) was founded in '97 by two guys.... who wanted to create
a downtown new york nightlife magazine... No one from the original staff
is still around. The magazine has now become a home for young Williamsburg/East
Village/ Lower East Side editors, writers and photographers to put out
a serious piece of journalism catering to readers like them. It went National
in the summer of 2000.
Hope all is well.
- Best, Ian
Shamelessly Self-Indulgent Plug
(for Free Williamsburg)
Bassin: "You guys really gave
my favorite bar, the Turkey's Nest, a disparaging review. It has this
reputation as being this really scary bar with all these frightening drunks,
but the truth is everyone that I've met there has been really down-to-earth."
Lanham: "Yeah, our bar reviews
can be pretty, um, blunt."
Bassin: "I like one of the lines
you had in your getting
laid in Williamsburg article though. I think it said, no trouble
here as long as you still have all your teeth."
RZA at Black Betty
Yes, that's right. They took RZA to Black Betty for their most recent
interview. He liked it and was really friendly to everyone. Check out
the great photos in their May issue.
Is There Anybody That You Wouldn't Have
on the Cover?
Bassin: "I wouldn't have Guilliani
on the cover."
Bassin: "This is the first time
I have been at a non-big company. And it's a strange, but nice transition.
I have had to explain to other employees, if you need a pencil, get a
quarter, go down to the store, and buy one. Don't expense the quarter."
Lanham: "How many people are
Bassin: "About 9. I don't think
anyone here (pointing to the magazine's credits) is on staff now. The
magazine is sort of like a house. We are all like these aliens who come
and go with a magazine binding us together."
Lanham: "So you have a lot of
Bassin: "We are getting much
more consistent. The magazine was really looking for an identity in '98
and '99 and its only in the last 8 months that its really solidified and
found its market and identity.
I came on last year and was doing children's stuff when Shout came
Nicely: "Were you with Scholastic?"
Bassin: "Yeah, it was a great
place to work, but I got sick of censuring myself. Now I don't have to
worry about someone from the Midwest saying that Harry Potter is conjuring
up evil spirits when children read it."
Have You Seen the Black Helicopters
Oops, I mean the black boxes. They are seemingly popping up everywhere.
They say Shout on the side. Look inside. You'll find the magazine.
And yes, Shout is now free. And unlike those other free publications,
Shout has better reviews and listings than the Voice and
its columns have the personality of those found in The New York Press
without the creepy politics. Simply put, Shout is good.
Their new editor Sam Schechner (a long-time Williamsburg resident) just
joined Shout last month. His first issue is the current one (June)
and he has mysterious plans for the publication:
It's going to focus more on digging deep beneath the underground, getting
at the roots of the city. I can't tell you yet what's going to happen,
but I guarantee the magazine is going to do great things.
Bassin: "There is definitely
a network of talented, independent companies in New Yorkyou guys,
Matador Records, Tommy Boy, Shout, Good Machine Films and
we definitely have an uphill battle trying to compete with the Time Warner's
and Universal's that are out there. We all need to help each other out."
Shout has a new website in its beta stage. Check it out at http://www.shoutny.com.
- Robert Lanham
Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry
Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
| June 2001 | Issue 15