A couple of weekends ago at ReaderCon I got the chance to see the newest issue of Realms of Fantasy, the magazine that, earlier this year, was canceled by the company that owned it. Publisher Warren Lapine bought the magazine because he saw that there was a groundswell of online activism around saving it. RoF is now reborn.
Here’s the cover, in case you haven’t seen it:
Someone also sent me a link to an image that’s going to appear in a forthcoming issue as art for a specific story.
For many years now — certainly since I started reading Realms, something I talk about here — the magazine has had a tendency to put some rather strange things on their covers. A lot of chicks in chainmail-type images when its not movie or television promo shots. I hear tell that these increase newsstand sales and I don’t doubt it. It can be really tiresome to look at year after year. But hey, people gotta eat.
So when I saw the new cover I wasn’t exactly surprised. I hear the nipples had to be taken out in order to make it newsstand-worthy; also not surprising. Realms has always had this tendency to put women in provocative clothing/poses/etc. on the front even though that kind of thing appeals more to men. I just don’t get it.
Warren Lapine was at ReaderCon handing out free copies of the magazine. We were both at the same party on Saturday night, so I took the opportunity to ask him a question that had been burning in my mind. What follows is an actual conversation I had with Lapine, transcribed from my memory, so there’s lots of paraphrasing and such.
Me: So, Warren, I was wondering: now that Realms is under new management and all, when are we going to see some male asses on the cover?
Warren: (raucous laughter)
Me: Because it seems like you’ve got the whole naked women thing down and the boob thing down, so how about some equal time?
Warren: That’s a good question. We should ask our new Art Director. Doug, c’mere for a second!
Doug [Cohen]: Yeah?
Me: (giving my full attention to Doug) I was just wondering when we’d see some male asses on the cover of Realms. Or even some penises?
Warren: (still highly amused) We’re not allowed to put penises on the cover, though.
Me: Makes sense. But inside, then. Because you’ve got plenty of boobs. Fish-girl boobs and nipple-less boobs and snake-woman boobs and boobs and more boobs.
Doug: (looking like he wants to shove a knife in my eye)
Me: I think it would do the magazine good to have some nice male asses around, don’t you? Or even: a shot from behind of a well-toned guy with him looking over his shoulder and a Fabio face or something.
Warren: (more laughter) I was just about to say! (turning to Doug) Our readership is, what, 4-1 female…
Me: Right! (to Doug) Don’t you think this is a good idea?
Doug: It sounds like a Tempest idea.
Me: Right, because it’s awesome! Another thing, maybe you don’t need so many boobs out there. Women in nice outfits works. You do know that women wear clothing most of the time, don’t you, Doug?
Doug: I know it now.
[I will pause here to note that I was unsure whether Cohen was trying to imply that I’d enlightened him on this fact because he’s been living in some dark cave most of his life or that he so very often sees women undressed that this was news to him. I’ll leave it to you to decide.]
Warren: Well, I was in a hair band in the 80s, and back then it sure didn’t seem like they did.
(so much laughter! OH HOHO! Also, I am given credit for ‘having a sense of humor’ because I laughed. …)
The conversation went on in this vein for a little longer, all the while certain parties not appreciating my suggestions. I think I especially riled someone when I asked if Realms had a monthly boob quota sheet in the office somewhere. But honestly, I wonder.
I overheard Warren and Doug talking about the issue together a little while later and got the impression that Warren felt I had a valid point and Doug felt that I initiated the conversation just to annoy him. Nevermind that I didn’t initiate the conversation with him; I went to the person with the power to decide stuff.
Anyway, time will tell if we get to see some male cheesecake on the cover. If we want it more inside the magazine obviously someone is going to have to step up and write some stories that call for it. Thus is my challenge to you, fantasy writers. Go to it!