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Our 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 (well—at 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 have.

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.

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."

Bassin: "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?"

Bassin: "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."

Shout Today

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 York—maybe 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 sweater vehicle.

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, Coming Soon
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 Before
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 on staff?"

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 floating writers?"

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 knocking."

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 Coming?
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.

Enigmatic Editors
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.

Chill-Inducing Climax
Bassin: "There is definitely a network of talented, independent companies in New York—you 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."

by the way
Shout has a new website in its beta stage. Check it out at http://www.shoutny.com.

- Robert Lanham


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