You know what, I’m just going to say it.
I LOVE ASIANS and everything Asians do (yes, including those at nail salons, cooking at restaurants and running “99 Cents” stores). Disclosure: I am an Asian American—Chinese to be exact. We do a lot more than the average Asian stereotype; but what we do best is breaking stereotypes, and perhaps creating new ones.
I discovered a slew of magazines one afternoon. While my professor was describing a colossal of magazine genres from fashion to architecture, and food to parenting, I jotted down magazine titles beyond Elle, Vogue, Newsweek, and Good Housekeeping. I was in awe looking at the many hundreds of unfamiliar magazine titles, and then I heard it. The words “Asian American women’s magazine” came out of my professor’s mouth, ‘lo and behold, an image of the Audrey Magazine’s winter issue appeared on the projector.
Audrey Magazine is an Asian American women’s lifestyle magazine based in Gardena, California. This English-language magazine publishes bi-monthly and covers topics on Asian American issues and culture, as well as fashion and beauty. Audrey has featured celebrities such as Kelly Hu, Tabu, and Elaine Quijano. Audrey Magazine even doubles as an online boutique on its website. After probing the site, I immediately ordered a 1-year subscription.
I still find it hard to believe there is a medium for the Asian and Asian American community in America. Props to you Californians, you’ve created something revolutionary that just isn’t getting enough attention.
But there are Asian American magazines out there in the U.S., we just don’t know about them. And I’m not talking about college-run Asian-interest magazines. I’m talking about mainstream: reader subscriptions and single-copy sales on newsstands. It comes to no surprise that some of the most prominent Asian-interest magazine names come from California. According to the 2009 U.S. Census Bureau, Asians make up 7.1% of New York state population and 12.7% of California—collectively, they make up only 4.6% of the whole U.S. population.
One of the most popular Asian American magazines hails from California: Hyphen Magazine.
A small group of young journalists and artists came together and envisioned a publication that covered more than celebrity news and interviews. Hyphen is a magazine that “covers arts, culture, and politics with substance, style and sass,” according to its Facebook page. On May 5, 2010, Hyphen and the Asian American Action Fund (AAA-Fund) announced a cross-posting partnership. The brains behind the magazine want to feature Asian Americans from across the nation—not just the prolific mass living in California and New York. Hyphen wants to feature emerging artists and explore cultural issues beyond identity. According to AAA-Fund, the collaboration will help further Hyphen’s mission to politically empower Asian American leaders and to fight the “misrepresentation and underrepresentation of Asian Americans with smarter and more nuanced coverage.” It’s no wonder AAA-Fund chose to partner with Hyphen magazine. Its media impressions are off the wall. In 2004, it was nominated for an Utne Independent Press Award for Best New Title. In 2006, Hyphen’s “body issue” won the Independent Press Association’s Best Cover award for an image of an Asian American man, Yusuke Miyashita, bathing (and eating?) in a tub full of edamame. In 2007, it received its second nomination for an Utne Independent Press Award for Best Design.
Unfortunately, because we are in the digital age, our most precious tangible treasures are transforming into web bytes and pixels.
What happened to pure print—you know, those glossy inked pages? Gourmet, a food magazine owned by Condé Nast, folded last year after 70 years of print. In fact, in 2009, Blender folded, Domino folded, and Fortune Small Business folded, among others. I understand we are in the digital age and sure, there are a lot of Asian and Asian American e-zines scouring the web like asiaMs.net and jademagazine.com (Jade Magazine sells print PDF versions upon request). But what about our precious prints?
A Magazine, now defunct, was a well-known and influential magazine in the Asian American community. Three undergraduate students from Harvard University founded it in 1989. They expanded the then campus magazine and exceeded a bimonthly readership of 200,000 in North America. It was never profitable in its 13 years existence. And in February 20, 2002, it folded. In fact, Hyphen Magazine was created in spite of A Magazine’s misfortune.
Yolk magazine was another premier of Asian American magazines. Yolk—a pop culture magazine for Asian Americans—folded in 2003 after 10 years of struggling to stay alive. The magazine had reached a circulation high of 50,000 in 2000 and targeted English-fluent college-educated Asian Americans coming from various cultures. Yolk covered topics from humor articles to serious pieces. Yolk maneuvered into articles about sex and adopted art inspirations from racy men’s magazines such as Maxim and FHM.
Despite the calamities, there are Asian-interest magazines that are still alive and in print.
Asian Fusion Magazine, based in New York City, covers fashion, food, health, entertainment and travel with a focus on the Asian community in New York City. In its latest issue, Asian Fusion profiled MoCA, an Asian Bistro, located in Forest Hills, New York. It also covered Ten Ren, a tea brewery and beverages shop, with locations in Chinatown (Manhattan); 8th Ave in Brooklyn; Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing; and 83-28 Broadway in Elmhurst. Although, Asian Fusion is more prevalent in the food and drink industry while lacking in the other areas, to me it’s a start.
I have discovered that there are over hundreds and hundreds of magazines distributed throughout New York beyond Elle, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, Ms., Newsweek, and all that good stuff. There’s more than just Lady Gaga and Marc Jacobs plastered over V Magazine. Hearst Corporation owns magazines other than Cosmopolitan and Esquire; it also owns Redbook, Popular Mechanics, Town & Country, and Food Network Magazine, among others. Condé Nast owns magazines other than Glamour and Vanity Fair; it also owns Bon Appétit, Reddit, Golf Digest, Epicurious, and Concierge among others.
I cannot wait to receive my first issue of Audrey in my mailbox. Soon, I will get my daily dose of fashion fix and read in awe at admiration. I think my next step is ordering a subscription of Hyphen Magazine. All I really want to do is dissect the quality of Asian-American magazines with the upmost respect, research what other Asian-American magazines are published and circulated in America, and compare them to the success of many top-name titles. I want Asian American magazines to surpass stereotype expectations. I want Asian American magazines to conquer and succeed. At the end of the day, I only have two words for you all:
– Karen Hor