Missbehave’s Eureka Moment
Mag's models are less kempt, more ordinary, and more overtly sexual than most.
I wasn’t there at the eureka moment that spawned Missbehave, but I imagine it went something like this:
Editor: “We need something different … something like a magazine, but not like a magazine … something bold, yet decisive … wild, frilly and feminine, yet sturdy and down to earth with machismo and swagger … a design that speaks Indo-European with an outrageous fake French accent … [art director begins to look uncomfortable, time passes] … something sweet, yet sharp….soft, yet dangerous…crunchy, but with a hot molten center…..[more time passes, art director begins flipping absently through a copy of the Village Voice] … something grassy, with good legs, yet impudent and saucy … [more time passes] … something … oh, I don’t know, WSY?”
Art Director [By now feeling hostile, yet caught off guard, never imagining that editor would ever stop talking stares at the random Voice page in front of her hoping for something—anything—to say. She points to a club ad—one of those single column jobs, in which every band name is as big as possible (in the case of a one-col, about 24 pt) set in a different wacky display font and set off with a smattering of rules and booger-sized pub shots]: “See this? see this?” she says. “Let’s take this ad and extend the concept to an entire magazine!”
The crazy thing is, it all kinda works. The type is such a delicate and sophisticated balance of the preposterous—a mash up of multiple eras and tastes pulled off with aplomb. More than that, the mix seems appropriate for this relatively new magazine. It would be misleading to call Missbehave a gender-bender, nevertheless the grrl-power title walks the line between Maxim’s swagger and Cosmo’s sexual sincerity a little more convincingly than most gender-focused magazines.
Missbehave’s models are less kempt, more ordinary, and more overtly sexual than the models that grace the pages of most women’s titles. Cover model Amber Heard’s hair is mussed, and her clothing is more revealing than flattering. On the inside, she poses, legs splayed on a beach ball. Generally, the magazine exhibits a disarming comfort with nooky that’s anything but Ken-and-Barbiesque. References include a fashion spread with furries (see Dan Savage if you don’t get the reference); and hook ups and extra-marital dalliances seem assumed rather than pondered. Yes, women’s magazines have plenty of bedroom advice and a bit of blue fiction, but it’s hard to imagine Cosmo running something like “DILF hunter.” Lede Graf: “Hugh Laurie, you’re 48 and you have needs. You live in L.A. your kids and wife do not. I don’t need a dry erase board, a bajillion years of medical school, and the Socratic method to suss out what you, my Dr House DILF (Dad I’d Like to Fuck) are afflicted with.”
In Missbehave, the editorial posturing can occasionally get to be a bit much—a quality it shares with men’s titles. Under the headline “How to be a Trophy Wife” is a stream-of-conciousness that begins: “Don’t pick at it! The scabs only last for four days, unless you pick at it. Stop. And even if the Restlyane bruise looks like you got a beer can heel-kicked into your nasolabials, you should never put Dermablend on your face. Unless you’re a local newscaster. Can I tell you something? Get your fingers out of my Cobb salad! No, really, ever since I swam with dolphins off of Lompoc, I find my twins—Valeska and Bentley—to be suppressive persons. They’re 8 now and it’s obvious they’re not so spiritual. We sent them to Outward Bound. We hope they catch autism. They’d be good at science.”
You know, I was hoping there’d be something I could use there. I’d actually like to be a trophy wife, but not if it means having to slog through this blather.
But some of the other writing, at least when you get through the off-putting ledes, is quite a bit better. There isn’t the editorial assumption that the reader is seeking self-improvement (or the appearance thereof). which seems to drive many women’s magazines, and that makes Missbehave both surprising and unusual. If there’s bluster there’s also a tone of self-confidence that the titles that orbit around fashion (people better dressed than you) beauty (people better looking than you) and celebrity (people richer and more talented than you) by necessity lack. Not that there’s none of that stuff here, it’s just kept to a tasteless minimum. It’ll be interesting to see how this title evolves.
A feature celebrates indulgence, although apparently the most indulgent thing they can think of is Taco Bell:
First spread of long fashion layout:
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Buy Jandos’ new book!]