Black Men magazine (1998- ) is a lifestyle magazine for black American men. Like King and Smooth it has pictures of half-naked women and articles on things like sex, cars, sports, fashion and famous people. It comes out once every two months.
It is put out by John Blassingame, who also puts out Today’s Black Woman and Hype Hair. Hype Hair is his best-selling magazine. His office is across the street from a Staples in Paramus, New Jersey.
Black Men is more well-rounded and serious than King or Smooth. You could take out the women and still have something of a magazine left. But in 2005 it was in last place: its women were not as good as those in Smooth and King.
Then one day Blassingame’s son Marcus was in Harlem getting his hair cut. As the women walked past the front of the shop it struck him that the men did not like the thin supermodel sort of women that appeared in the magazine. They liked women with much more of a figure – “fat asses and pretty faces,” as the barber put it.
So over the next two years Black Men tried different sorts of women to see what worked. By using models with more of a figure they were able to outsell Smooth. They say they now have a pretty good idea of which kind of women will work in all parts of the country and even in Jamaica and Haiti.
The magazine has women of all colours: white, yellow, black and brown. It prefers Latin and light-skinned black women. In 2006 Black Men named Vida Guerra, a near-white Latin woman, as the sexiest woman of the year. Each issue has only one or two dark-skinned models.
The women are heavily airbrushed and many have a soulless look in their eyes. They are still not as good as the women in King, which, in spite of its blacker idea of female beauty (or maybe because of it), still sells better.
Video vixens, those half-naked women you see in music videos, tend to speak well of Black Men: many got their start in its pages. One was Angel Lola Luv. She was discovered at one of their modelling contests – not on stage, but sitting in the audience!
Black Men seems to be based more on Today’s Black Woman than on Maxim. When Black Men first came out in 1998 there was no King and even Maxim was still new in America.
Unlike King and Maxim, Black Men does not have any mainstream advertisers, like Heineken or Absolut.
Sometimes Black Men puts out a swimsuit extra magazine called Black Men SSX. Some have only one woman, like Buffie the Body.
Blassingame learned the magazine distribution business by working first for Hearst in the New York region and then Metropolitan News. When he was passed over for a higher position at Metropolitan he started his own magazines. Thus Black Men.