A Few Good Men

SCORNING PORN

MR. RIDEOUT IS specific about his goals. “We will offer a much higher percentage of substantive articles around their career and money management, specifically for young men,” he said. “We will not offer lurid content of women. We will not celebrate misogyny. We will not have Britney Spears, ever, in this magazine, unless she turns around and does something great about her career. She’s a young business leader? She’s in.” He laughed. “The other stuff is everywhere. There’s no lack of how to get L-A-I-D.”

He later mentioned that he’d recently seen a photo slide show on MadeMan.com featuring video-game-inspired lingerie. “I was like, please, bring more and more video-game lingerie content onto your platform. Just fill it up with that stuff … because the more that happens, the better off I am.”

Mr. Rideout’s business model is even more radical. MadePossible will be totally funded by brands who want to market their content to his demographic-currently, Ray-Ban and the preppy-hipster clothing chain Bonobos, with three spots still open. The magazine will be, in his words, a free “gift of content,” with the initial circulation comprised of current 25-to-34-year-old male subscribers to The Economist, Fortune, GQ, Details and Maxim. In July, one million American men will find MadePossible in their mailboxes, without ever having asked for it.

It’s hard not to wonder whether the same 25-year-olds who spend their discretionary income on Judd Apatow movies will be interested in content about ethics and parenting-especially without the promise of bikini-clad supermodels on the next page. “They’ll never have the readership of Maxim, just because soft-core porn is too important,” said Noam Prywes, a 21-year-old recent Columbia graduate. He quickly added, “For America.”

Joe Levy, the editor in chief of Maxim, doesn’t seem worried about the competition. “There are many men in the world and there should be many men’s magazines-we welcome the launch of any magazine and look forward to continuing to be the biggest men’s title in the world,” he wrote The Observer dryly. “And now, I have to get back to reading my copy of Garden & Gun!”

But both the Good Men founders and Mr. Rideout seem absolutely convinced that men want something different. In 2008, Mr. Matlack said, his former venture-capitalist and investment-banker friends began calling him up, one by one, saying, “We think we missed out on what’s important, as guys”-inspiring him to abandon the 10th draft of what he calls “a long and miserable memoir” and instead start work on The Good Men Project book.

Mr. Rideout, for his part, has put $100,000 into market research, and is not shy about sharing what he learned. For example: Fifty-eight percent of his five hundred 25-to-34-year-old survey respondents are familiar with competitive magazines such as GQ and Maxim, but do not find them relevant. The current editorial content of the big four men’s magazines (Maxim, GQ, Esquire and Details) is 70 percent celebrity-, sports- and fashion-based, but 93 percent of his market doesn’t find stories about celebrities relevant to their lives. Only 5 percent of content in the big four deals with career, finance and parenthood, three areas in which he plans to focus. He’ll go on and on, if you let him.

Back at the diner, Mr. Rideout was feeling philosophical. “One thing to think about young men is, right now, manhood is not clearly defined. Women, in general-you individually may have issues with other women, but it’s largely believed among men that women are united,” he said.

Mr. Rideout’s voice gets louder when he’s excited about what he’s saying, and this conjecture could clearly be heard by the two men sitting at the next table. One, a thirtyish African-American man wearing a maroon hooded sweatshirt, leaned over. “Sorry to bug you,” the man said, “but that-what you just said, about manhood not being defined?-that’s a conversation that a lot of people are having.”

Mr. Rideout told the man he was about to launch a platform to address that conversation. “I’d be interested in that, whatever you’re doing,” the man replied. Mr. Rideout gave him a business card.

A plant? No way, Mr. Rideout insisted to The Observer. “You don’t understand,” he said. “This happens every day.”

asymonds@observer.com

A Few Good Men