|First issue||October 2004|
Bent is a free magazine that targets gay men and is distributed to 400 gay bars, clubs and saunas in the United Kingdom. Published monthly by All Points North UK in Leeds, it focuses on entertainment – celebrities, film, DVD and music as well as television, comedy and “scene” news.
Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of LGBT campaign organisation Stonewall, and gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell (famous for attempting a citizen's arrest of Robert Mugabe), are columnists, as is the current Mr Gay UK. This provides a balance of serious, news-related opinion and lighter substance. Recent additions to the magazine include Features Editor Adam 'Beyonce' Lowe, formerly gay section editor at The Leeds Guide, who also writes the bulk of the music reviews and interviews, and the more controversial Beauty & the Freaks column, Simon Savidge is the London Correspondent and author of Simon Says the problem page, with a witty edge.
Terry George., the magazine’s Publisher, also writes a column in Bent. He and civil partner Michael Rothwell, Publishing Director, own Leeds nightclub ClubMission and BarFibre and the Mr Gay UK brand. They also own the global Federation clubbing brand, which has nights in Belfast, Blackpool, Newcastle, Manchester, Gran Canaria and New York. George also writes a column in the Huddersfield Post and The Leeds Guide, presumably where he met Lowe, who left his regular slot to join the team.
Currently the editor is Gordon Hopps, who was previously editor and has returned to replace Jenny Parkin. He has since pushed circulation, which is, at its peak, at least as high as 60,000 copies (equal to that of Gay Times) and perhaps as high as 100,000 copies aross the UK. This reflects a circulation of 1-1.7% of the entire UK population and up to 10-17% of the LGBT community. Readership figures may also be higher, since access to the magazine in bars and nightclubs means each copy may be read multiple times. Big-name coverstars and non-traditional subject matter has seen its popularity risen, particularly with its often striking covers that tend to feature minimal text and attention-grabbing images. The magazine has also increased pagination from 116 pages to 132, which is a substantial increase for a magazine of its kind.
The magazine carries a listings section, Whatz On, that includes more than 400 club nights all over the country. There are also sections featuring gay-angled travel features and fashion, health and beauty. Towards the back of the magazine there is usually an interview with a porn actor, an erotic story and Get Netted, a round-up of porn on the web. April's issue brought in another Mr Gay UK contestant (this time a finalist), Sam Neal, who is also a naval PT instructor, to write a two-page fitness section. This is unprecedented in the gay press, since such a large segment is not usually given to sports and fitness features. In doing this, Bent is perhaps challenging traditional stereotypes of gay men.
A five-page news section, put together in conjunction with news site Gay.com, includes “weightier” topics such as special reports. Recent topics have included drugs, education trends and changes in legislation affecting gay men and women. The magazine also carries real-life human interest features and reports about good causes and campaigns.
Bent often favours international A-list celebrities rather than male models or gay personalities for its covers. Past covers have included Anastacia, Duran Duran, Duncan James, Jennifer Lopez, Shayne Ward, Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, Kylie Minogue and Jake Gyllenhaal. Recently, however, this has begun to change, as recent cover stars have included Mr Gay UK and Alan Carr. The December 2006, February 2007 and May 2007 issues, in a more traditional format, featured male models in place of celebrities.
In the late 80s, Terry George launched small, amateurish All Points North magazine to help promote his first gay club night, Confetti’s at the Ritzy nightclub in Leeds. It was replaced with the glossy, professional Now UK in 1998. Bent was launched in October 2004 as an independent business: advertisements for other APN services in the magazine are paid for in the same way as those booked by other organisations. Bent magazine is thus considered to be autonomous from APN and a large contributor to the success of the company's Bent brand, which also includes 118 Gay, Bent.com, Bent Shop and a line of premium rate chat and text services.
For four months during 2005, pagination was increased and the magazine was available to buy in WH Smith, Borders and some independent newsagents for four months. Now it has reverted to being a free publication, with the exception of London, where it is on sale in various specialist-interest stores. As of Issue 100 (May 2007), this pagination has increased again.
The magazine usually features about £1,000 of music and DVDs to be won, through phone and text lines. Generally, 50% to 60% of the magazine, currently 116 pages in total, is made up of advertising – bars, clubs, music and DVD, holiday companies, health organisations, chatlines and classifieds.
Advertising provides the revenue for the production and distribution of the magazine though its sale in London now contributes. It is also available on subscription for a charge and can be downloaded online.
Bent has now expanded to become an entire brand, including Bent Live or Bent.com, which is a gay dating site designed to rival giants such as Gaydar. Bent.com's marketing slogan runs: 'Is your Gaydar letting you down?'
See also Edit
- Ben Summerskill
- Peter Tatchell
- Mr Gay Europe
- Terry George.
- Mr Gay UK
- The Leeds Guide
- Adam 'Beyonce' Lowe
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