NEW YORK – Imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, according to editors of today's leading men's magazines.
Following the incredible success of Maxim, a new crop of men's publications with flashy features and plenty of barely clothed babes is crowding newsstands.
Magazines such as King, Razor, Controversy and Gene Simmons Tongue have all launched recently, many obviously poaching on the format used by Dennis Publications' Maxim and Stuff.
These innovators of the field don't mind their competitors' attempts to replicate their winning style.
"There's no sin in trying to replicate the Maxim formula," said Keith Blanchard, editor-in-chief of Maxim. "But I think most of them come out as successive photo copies — a copy of a copy of a copy."
And along with the pages of scantily clad women, many of these new "lad magazines" try to imitate the short, punchy writing style found in Maxim as well.
"We live in a microwave society," said Matthew Schwartz, editor of min magazine, an annual publication that looks at the magazine industry. "Their brand of content is such that you get in and out of topics real quick, playing perfectly to younger people and what they've been conditioned to in the last decade."
But Greg Gutfeld, editor-in-chief of Stuff Magazine, is quick to note such a formula isn't as easy to replicate as it seems.
"It's actually really hard to put out a good magazine," Gutfeld said. "It looks easy because the magazine's format is such that it's very easy to pick up and read, but it's really very difficult to put out such a format."
And although the fresh lad mags keep coming, the veterans seem to welcome a challenge. "The men's magazine market as a whole is still a pretty empty landscape in comparison with the women's market," Blanchard said. "There's plenty of room for competition to arise."
Some have had a harder time separating themselves from the pack. Razor is one new publication that has had trouble shedding the preconception of a Maxim knockoff, despite in-depth articles that regularly dwarf most stories in other lad clones.
Razor's publisher Rich Botto said part of the trouble is that the media treats every men's magazine as some sort of knockoff these days. "If you put a beautiful woman on the cover (the media says) you're ripping off Maxim," Botto said. "And if you put a man on the cover, you're ripping off Esquire."
But Botto said Razor targets a more specific group. "We're for the 20-something who's looking to move to the next stage of their life and the 30-something who has achieved that level of success."
King Magazine is also attempting to take a more niche approach to their publishing as they focus on urban culture and lifestyle. But Stuff's Gutfeld said much of his magazine's success is actually dependent on its broad appeal.
"If you're a smart person, your age doesn't matter," Gutfeld said. "The same thing that makes a 40-year-old laugh makes a 25-year-old laugh. Guys are so much alike that they find the same things funny at any age."
Gutfeld also dismissed the possibility that any of the new magazines could really give the leading publications a run for their money.
"When you do something successful there are almost always imitators, and the imitators almost always suck."