Friday, October 2, 2009

Paradis Magazine and Reggae Legend Lee "Scratch" Perry

The internet has generally made porn a commodity. That has arguably done wonders for journalism, as established mags like Playboy and Penthouse have been forced to focus (or in the case of Playboy, refocus) on quality content. Jacques and Paradis, two erotic men's magazine upstarts, lead a trend towards "high-end smut" that emphasizes art and editorial, replacing a shock factor that has hardly shocked much of anyone for some years now.

The final product is visually stunning. The quality of the editorial for both magazines varies. Jacques sells itself as providing a "contemporary audience... [of] grown-ups with an alternative to the vapid men's magazines of today." The magazine's subject lives up to that promise, but often appears youthful and largely unexamined in it's approach. Still, it's truly alternative content and potential alone makes the magazine worth skimming through.

Paradis, published twice a year in Paris (in French and English), is a more upmarket publication than its American counterpart. The latest issue is more than 400 pages long, with intricate photo shoots, high-end editorial concepts, and advertisements from the biggest names in luxury goods. The articles really do cater to an older, educated, artsy, and culturally aware audience in a way that can sometimes come across as snooty. In as much, some of the one page commentaries articles read like dramatic attempts to make something out of nothing through amorphous themes like love and death. But the articles that focus on more tangible people, places, things, and themes are made of solid stuff. Those feature articles and interviews explore subjects from all angles in away that make authentic and interesting pieces out of what might otherwise come across as mundane or pretentious.

The most interesting article, for me, was a profile of Lee "Scratch" Perry, a Jamaican reggae artist who was big in the Bob Marley's heyday and has continued to make contributions to the genre up until today. It's amazing how much the author captures in six pages until you realize that he spent an entire year with Perry before he wrote the story.

Now that's dedication to your craft.