Who can forget their first glimpse of a naked woman?
When I was nine, I discovered a stash of my father’s magazines on a basement shelf. I was awestruck. Those centerfolds were my introduction to idealized beauty. The appeal wasn’t about their genetically remarkable voluptuousness, though. It was the expressions they wore—what I’ve now come to recognize as raw desire—that floored me, sparking an obsession with magazines that continues to this day.
That epiphany in the basement was very much on my mind the morning I walked into Maxim’s office in midtown Manhattan to take on a daunting challenge: reimagining the U.S.’s most widely read men’s magazine for an era when glossy pages are increasingly being upstaged by smartphones, and silicone-filled pinups have ceded the limelight to a more authentic, self-possessed—if no less gorgeous—generation of women.
We started by stripping it down, pulling apart the structure. To rebuild something properly, you need to examine the foundation. We asked tough, existential questions. What is Maxim? What keeps men’s magazines relevant? What really matters?
And that old standby: Am I way higher than everybody else, or am I just being paranoid?
An idea emerged from all that: What if we used the issue to explore a concept? And after tossing around a couple million of them, we settled on a notion that the women in those centerfolds would certainly recognize—Raw.
That’s it. Just the word.
It suits us. Especially now, in this moment of reinvention.
If raw is about the essence of things, about stripping away the frills and the bullshit and getting down to what’s real, Andre Dubus III, one of America’s best novelists, captures the idea as well as anyone in a searing, highly personal essay (page 28) that I’m thrilled to have in our pages.
The guy goes deep.
Thayer Walker also went deep to report his piece on spearfishing (“Deep Cuts”), plunging into the shark-filled waters of the Marshall Islands to experience the visceral thrill of hunting a dangerous animal on its own terms. In “Absolute Power” we test-drove the most hard-core gear money can buy, just for fun (a six-foot chain saw!?); and with an assist from Mike Tyson, we went nose-to-nose with a ferocious new generation of boxers from the former Soviet Union who are winning titles in nearly every weight class (“Beasts from the East"). We enlisted the nation’s top meat experts for “The Maxim Guide to Butchery,” and writer Maureen O’Connor helped us take a long, hard look at the female posterior and its emergence as America’s favorite body part.
Meanwhile, though we don’t want Maxim relegated to a guy’s basement shelf, we don’t shy away from sexy, either, as our features on Candice Swanepoel and actress Bianca Santos amply demonstrate.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s also in the eye of the beheld. If you’re not sure what I mean, spend a minute looking at our cover image of the irresistible Ms. Swanepoel, shot by legendary photographer Gilles Bensimon. Sweet, playful, and confident in her own skin—and stripped of excess makeup or retouching—she is a perfect choice to kick off a whole new chapter for Maxim.
Check it out.