Pink Paper goes BUST!.. again

June 20, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Flagship Gay Mafia Gutter Rag Sinks

GayMafiaWatch can exclusively reveal, after a troubled 20 year history the UK’s only national “gay newspaper” (The Pink Paper) has gone bust.

The last ever issue will be out in time for London Pride.

This is not the first time the publication has folded. It has struggled to stay afloat over the past ten years having eventually reverted to a fortnightly tabloid broadsheet. Despite claims by the paper’s owners Millivres Prowler Group that the company is suffering from a loss in advertising revenues like much of the media sector, GayMafiaWatch believes that is only part of the story. Last year the company dropped top shelf-gay mens mag AXM explaining it would continue to be available online. Only a few months later the company (which also owns Prowler storesused the Pink Paper to attack rival sex-shop firm Clone Zone (which owed them £100’s thousands in unpaid bills).

Last Thursday (18th June 2009) we called the Advertising desk at the Pink Paper to find out the next copy deadline – to which we were told would be 4th July. The following day a source at the distribution company that delivers the publication all over the country told us they had not received any orders to distribute the title outside of London for the next issue – confirming the news.

Farewell Pink Paper. You have served us well over the years, even if in the end you will be remembered as just another slain soldier in the ongoing pink pound war.


Sex Wars: Attack of the Clone Zone

April 21, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the bunker we find ourselves on the bring of yet another Pink Pound war.

Following on from our recent article “Gay Dating Wars” we have stumbled upon an emerging row between two of the UK’s largest gay retailers.

The use of the word “Exclusive!” in the title of the story the Pink Paper (owned by the dark lord Prowler group) suggests they are relying on sources that may stem from gossip, rumour and pure speculation. The emphasis on this particular story is interesting as there is a clear motive behind it’s publication, and Clone Zone have quite fairly bashed back.

Decent Journalists and those who know some of the basics of media headline creation will see red when they read phrase “an anonymous member of the public” – tried and tested classic way of deceiving people into thinking the facts have been investigated and the anonymity is because what they are saying is true but want to protect their identity. Even so, it’s also a media excuse for making things up.

As it happens, the Pink Paper’s publishers Millivres Prowler Group are among the list of those owed significant amount of money which the Pink Paper estimate totals at least of £500,000 (according to an unnamed “insider”). Although most people in the same position as Millivres Prowler Group are right to be annoyed at not being paid but don’t be fooled into thinking this is news. The Pink Paper’s report on Clone Zone is nothing but a cleverly constructed case of commercial smear.

On the recently revamped Pink Paper website they recently introduced a commenting feature. Since it was launched it is rarely used, either few people are commenting on their articles or they are choosing to exercise some level of editorial control over public feedback so it is again surprising to see a flood of vicious comments making a range of plain nasty statements about the individuals involved.

The most obvious example of “self-trolling” in order to support the article is this one:

“use your pink pound elsewhere now – shop at prowler and any other decent trading company”

The weekly readers poll in the same issue, also run via the Pink Paper’s website apparently posted by “anonymous”  the day before the paper’s regular weekly publication date asks:

“Should directors whose firms go bust be allowed to run a business again?” – “If your bosses made your company go bust and made you redundant in the process, should they be allowed to side-step into another directorial role?”

You’d expect a “registered newspaper” to have more than 16 people voting in a poll nearly a week after it was created. This could be due to the fact that the relatively poor volume of traffic the site receives compared to it’s biggest rivals which are relatively small operations, many of them non-profit or social-enterprises run by one or two people from home.


In an unepected twist, those who have a clear interest in this particular fight have stepped into the ring and stood up for Clone Zone and have pledged to publish an official statement from the former directors. Manchester based charity the Lesbian and Gay Foundation who also publish a monthly regional gay health and lifestyle magazine “OutNorthWest” have today placed an article on their website under the headline “Clone Zone Bosses Upset at Pink Paper Headline“.

It should be noted that the LGF provide content to the Pink Paper but also rely on significant advertising revenue from Clone Zone. The LGF seem to be attempting to juggle a conflict of neutrality and may be attempting to balance the fuss or perhaps they are making a moral objection to Millivres Prowler’s bully-boy reporting around the situation of a business that has it’s roots in the same community they do.

Previous issues of OutNorthWest have seen several advert placements plugging the adult retailer over the years, the magazine’s editor claims they rely entirely on advertising revenue in order to produce the publication which has a readership of over 60,000. This month (February 2009) contains no advertising for Clone Zone. Although one advert for their more profitable arm “H20 Sauna” remains.

Gossip is an essential part of any community, it allows us to communicate and allows us to inquire about the status of our peers with our peers. The LGF may be quite right in giving so much space on it’s website to a story which airs the dirty laundry of two major players in the country’s gay business community despite this having implications on their own future.

Perhaps the LGF may now consider extending that same opportunity to the wider community, instead of giving so much airspace to rich sponsors even if they vanish tomorrow.

Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.
– Mohandas Gandhi

GayMafiaWatch asks…

To the Editor of the Pink Paper:
Are you so naive to think the public won’t see right through this story you’ve obviously generated to serve the direct financial interests of your parent company? What do you say to Clone Zone’s response that your article about that is unfair and upsetting?

To the Directors of Clone Zone:
What do you think about your alleged creditors using one of their national gay publications as a way of attacking you? and will you continue to stock the (free) weekly Pink Paper as a result? do you feel the change in the formulation of poppers and their resulting unpopularity due to new legislation have contributed to Clone Zone’s problems?

To the Lesbian and Gay Foundation:
Will the new owners of Clone Zone honor existing advertising deals made with yourselves? they appear to have removed all their adverts in your latest issue of OutNorthWest so what impact will this have on the magazine’s future? oh and one last question, who’s your daddy?

You! – tell us what you think, post your comments below:


Elton John: Libel Queen

December 29, 2008

In a long overdue victory for free speech, Sir Elton John has been left fuming yet again after loosing his latest libel case against the Guardian newspaper.

This is a mighty blow to the ongoing efforts of one of Britain’s top gay mafia henchmen to seal the lips of all those who question his beloved charity, a battle in which has no doubt cost the “gratuitously offensive, nasty and snide” showman dearly. Journalist Marina Hyde claimed Elton’s AIDS Foundation does not “raise serious funds” and is merely an excuse for “self-promotion”. This is the third time the charity has come in for criticism in a national newspaper.

During the 1990’s, gay mafia charity “Stonewall” often flirted with Sir Elton, flying the entertainer and his entourage across the Atlantic from his L.A home. In November 1999, the organisers of it’s glamorous gala fundraiser at London’s Royal Albert Hall faced a legal challenge from the Scout Movement,  enraged by Elton’s use of erotic dancers as part of his performance for the sold-out event who (although aged over 18.) were dressed up as Cub-Scouts alongside Elton (who’s real name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight). Several right-wing gay-bashing homophobic family-rights groups got on their moral high-horses and claimed “Stonewall should be condemned for holding boys up as sex objects” causing similar claims to be published in The Sun and other tabloid newspapers. Stonewall itself had to make a full public apology whilst Elton stayed silent.

At the time Stonewall was lobbying to equalise the age of consent, and although it may seem like a long time ago now, it was still a very tough battle to fight. Public support was critical, lack of it contributed to several delays to the campaign along with the repeal of Section 28. Elton’s involvement probably didn’t help.

Since then Elton’s work with Stonewall has dwindled and his reputation for making brash personal attacks on other gay icons and celebrities with big gay followings such as Madonna and George Michael certainly no longer makes him a favorable act to headline at a glitzy money-making ball these days.  In fact Elton’s now got his own charity,  naughtily after himself.  Just as the name “Stonewall” itself has slowly begun to drown out, Elton’s charity along with a rather convenient plug for his entire career, the Elton John AIDS Foundation is a name you probably will have heard more and more over the past few years. Combined with the 61 year old’s tendency to mouth-off and throw a queeny-strop at the slightest snippet of criticism or unflattering photo taken of his baldy noggin, the charity itself has given him even more opportunities to indulge in his favorite pastime – suing some ass.

Those who believe in the existence of parallel universes will probably envisage Sir Elton pursing a career in Law. At least in this one he’s got all the right wigs for the part!

Who Elton’s thrown his dummy at:

Elton’s petty legal fights have now whisked the Rocket Man into cyberspace, and although he’s a self-confessed Luddite and technopbobe he’s known to indulge in a bit of silver surfing.

One of his more mean pursuits involved sending the Lawyers down to the webmistress of entertainment “gossip message board” – Countess Joulebine. He managed to secure a hearing by citing precedent set in similar case (Godfrey v. Demon Internet Limited 1999) which involved the former owners of the Pink Paper and Boyz Magazine David Bridle and Kelvin Sollis. The case involved material published by Chris Morris, a former Stonewall activist who had switched sides to grass routes gay rights group “OutRage!” headed by Peter Tatchell who was about to publish details of an apparently “fake” HIV charity “Positive Lives” (now defunct) on his website hosted by Demon Internet.

It appears Elton’s lawyers had in-depth knowledge about this particular case involving the owners of this other allegedly “dodgy HIV charity” which went to court only a year previously,  putting the Pink Paper’s main rival publication “OutCast” right out of business.

David Bridle still publishes Boyz Magazine, and having recently done away with it’s previous editor he is firmly back at the reigns. The Pink Paper was sold to rival publishers Millivres Prowler Group in 2004.

Any brave soul (like Chris Morris, Marina Hyde, Countess Joulebine and a long list of others) who dares question the apparent charitable operations of any gay mafia entities face being silenced by a wall of law suits, funded by gay mafia barons with rich friends and a long list of Lawyers, Publicists and Spin-Doctors armed with everything they need to cover up the most heinous of scandals.

Final Facts

  • In 2007 Sir Elton caused yet more fury after announcing he intends to Shut Down the Internet altogether claiming the web is “destroying music” and “stopping people going out”. Who knows what his real agenda is?
  • In an obvious blitz of damage limitation, less than two weeks after Elton went red in the face after loosing this latest battle with the Guardian, Harrow Council announced it was considering naming a street after him.  However it appears there is already a lovely little street right beside the Bus Station that is infact called “Elton Avenue”!
  • Like most secretive criminal societies, the “gay mafia” has friends in high places, but not all. Even within it’s own close-knit circles there is in-fighting and fierce rivalry, as well as family-like births, deaths, and civil partnerships! We’ll be going more in-depth on who’s who in our forthcoming features “Gay Mafia Families” and “The Gays After Tomorrow”.

Related Links

AfterElton.com


Manchester City Council in Gay Vote Scandal

November 27, 2008

Another week and yet another “gay awards scheme” appears to be attracting some dubious nominations.

Last month the Stonewall Awards in London sparked an angry protest from the transgender community and a major celebrity split after a bigoted journalist was nominated.  Heres more proof that the “old boys network” is alive and well in Manchester…

About a week ago Terry Waller, “Lead Officer for Gay Men’s Issues” at Manchester City Council sent out an email requesting people to vote for gay men’s social group run by the LGF “Icebreakers” for a Pink Paper Readers Award (they happened to be last year’s winners). The email went onto say – “Maybe you’ll also nominate our friends at The LGF, Taurus, 40 plus  and Northern Wave too.”

After your money AGAIN!.. - the Lesbian and Gay Foundation and it's "friends"

After your money AGAIN!.. - the Lesbian and Gay Foundation

Read our article “The Truth about where your wristband money really went” which explains how together they conspired to ripped off Manchester’s long suffering LGBT Community last year by making multiple funding bids for the same organisation under different names and therefore siphoning off the funding into one big fat pot.


Whilst we have no objection to the claim that that the groups and businesses being promoted are just as worthy candidates to win an award as any other and no doubt provide excellent services to the community but the question must be asked- why is Manchester City Council participating in the unfair influence of a democratic process by sending this request to its entire LGBT mailing list? Other groups hoping to be nominated may also be reminding their supporters to vote for them but this is a council mailing list which includes people who are neither Pink Paper Readers and who most likely have never heard of or used the services of this cliquey list of “friends” the email is suggesting people nominate and vote for.

This use of the mailing mailing list in this manner is clearly biased an inappropriate, its completely unfair to other worthy groups and businesses and it smacks of favoritism. Taurus, the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (who run Icebreakers, the 40+ Group and Northern Wave Swimming Group) and Manchester City Council are all heavily in bed with the controversial Manchester Pride – also nominated for an award.

Terry Waller claims this request is purely “information we have been asked to distribute” however previous attempts by other organisations not connected to funded by Manchester City Council have failed to be distributed are frequently ignored. Although his mail shots are sometimes useful and informative they rarely contain anything other than more promotional extracts from the Lesbian and Gay Foundation or Manchester Pride –  which have plenty of more direct and dedicated means of contacting the community.

Shameless!

Manchester Pride Ticket £15
Squishing Criticism – Priceless!

Manchester City Council and “friends” at the Launch of Manchester Pride 2008. Together they have sent requests to a public city council mailing list to canvass support in order to swing the vote in favour of their organisations in this year’s Pink Paper Awards.

Despite causing so much anger and controversy within the community, GayMafiaWatch has heard Manchester Pride has been nominated for a Pink Paper Award too.

pride_people1
Jackie Crozier, Director of Manchester Pride. Famous for her
Gestapo-like appearance in
this revealing video when she
attempted to confiscate placards
in the Pride Parade
because they read “Pride Not Profit”.
Andrew (“Drew”) Stokes, Chair of Manchester Pride and
Director of “Marketing Manchester”.
Read about how
he misled the public over Pride’s attendance figures
promoting a probe by Trading Standards.
Pink Haired Mavis, Lord Mayor of Manchester. She didn’t really
have a clue what was going on. This
blogger has more photos
with the poor mayor looking even more shocked as organisers
try to cover up their actions.
Mike “Polly” Pollard, Proprietor of Canal Street bar Taurus and
representing the Village Business Association (VBA). Three
weeks after this photo was taken the VBA’s chair Phil Burke
resigned from the Board of Manchester Pride accusing the
council of putting “Pounds before Poofs”
Cllr Paul Fairweather, founding member and supporter of the
Lesbian and Gay Foundation the charity where
GayMafiaWatch has uncovered a lot of dirty dealings along with the
George House Trust – another dodgy
charity you can read about in
this blog
pridepic3

…the big cover-up

Moments after the above photo was taken…. Protesters descend on the Pride Officials and Lord Mayor

The protest group “Pride is a Protest” claims it has been shamefully airbrushed out of the official pride photos.



pridepic2

Pink Washed!

In this photo you can clearly see how a sign being held by a protester in the back of the photo outside Manchester Town hall taken shortly after saying “Queer Liberation Now” has been airbrushed in black out by Manchester Pride. A Pink “Pride Not Profit” Banner in the far right corner has also been obscured. Watch a video of the protest at the Manchester Pride Launch

If it’s not clear to you what Manchester Pride is all about, they have made it clear what its not about by doing this.

As Manchester Pride came to a close at end of August 2008, Phil Burke (who was missing from the above photos) Chair of the Village Business Association (VBA) resigned from the board of Manchester Pride in frustration and declared “Manchester Pride is a marketing event run by ‘dictators’ “. It made the front page of the Manchester Evening News later that day where he continued to speak out and claimed “Manchester Pride is Purely a Commercial Operation“.

Dozens of other small businesses, charities and community groups and local councilors of all parties have since spoken out in support of Mr Burke including Body Positive, Cruz 101, The Rembrandt, Eden, AXM Group, LGBT History Month. Queer Youth Network, OutRage! and the NUS LGBT Campaign.

In October 2008, UNISON (the largest of all the trade unions) voted at it’s recent LGBT conference to condemn the actions of Manchester Pride and has agreed not to provide it with sponsorship to the event next year.


Crumbling Foundation

May 26, 2008

GayMafiaWatch on the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF)

There comes a time when gay charities get too big for the boots they’ve bought and need to make a decision, take the money, all of it and run or refuse it, share it and keep to their principles instead. Not so long ago in a town called Manchester one such group once called the Manchester Gay Switchboard got hitched to the Council and NHS run condom shop “Healthy Gay Manchester” and formed a love-child named the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (also known as the LGF). Now based at it’s enlarged towering headquarters (owned by a well known Glaswegian ex-gangster) several storeys above the rest of us on top of the former Hollywood Showbar on Princess Street, the LGF has been accused of throwing what’s left of it’s principles out of the proverbial window.

It becomes apparent after a few conversations with anyone you speak to at the LGF that they themselves as workers or volunteers are so very aware of any potential for criticism or public scrutiny. They become outrageously defensive and have a tendancy to over-justify every single piece of work to the latter degree as if there already is an ulterior motive or hidden agenda as yet undisclosed. It nearly always seems that is infact the case, and there is now a long and grubby history attributed to the LGF’s past conduct that has left it tarnished and un-trusted.

One major criticism of the charity is it’s failure to re-brand and readdress it’s title to include the Bisexual and Transgendered community. We’ve heard that the use of any umbrella term than LGB such as “queer” is a dirty deed within Princess House and as such it won’t be going down that road despite pressure from the community. The LGF seems strangely torn between using what have become exclusionary phrases “Lesbian and Gay” or “LGB” instead of the inclusive option of “LGBT” and has been accused of undermining and ignoring anything that does not directly concern Lesbians (gay women) or Gay Men. Stonewall also suffers this “problem with image”. It’s difficult to maintain contact with the public at large by using such politicised and volatile terms which could put the LGF’s funders and political supporters at some unease. So instead of upsetting the fat cats, the LGF has chosen to exclude and alienate a large part of the LGBT community in quite a significant way.

Former staff, volunteers and supporters claim the LGF suffers from so much critism and mistrust due to it’s devious-looking involvement with Manchester Pride, the city’s annual LGBT pride festival that has had a rather turbulent past itself (See the Manchester Pride Investigation for more details). Controversy surrounding the event and it’s meaning, organisation and unfair distribution of funds to smaller charities and groups gains momentum nearly every year, and now the organisers of the event have become increasingly smart of deflecting and deflating it’s critics. The LGF’s new found monopoly on “Regional Reporting” for the national gay media ensures that absolutely no negative press or criticism of Manchester Pride and it’s related projects ever reach the community at large. Both the regional correspondents for the Pink Paper are also senior members of staff at the LGF. They don’t do very much “regional reporting” and are clearly abusing their opportunity to selfishly prioritise promotion and publicity for their own projects and events instead of others in the region.

The biggest and most serious accusation (other than possibly being involved in charity fraud through it’s position in Manchester Pride) the LGF still faces is of being a bully and “swallowing up” smaller groups and services, as well as befriending newly established groups in need of resources (which the LGF then claims credit for their work at a later date) is one which it denies strongly but painfully as plenty of examples can be given to prove this is infact the case time and time again. Gaydio, Albert Kennedy Trust, Lesbian Community Project, Out and About, the Village Charity, Black LGBT Group, Peer Support Project, Manchester Switchboard are all organisations that have either been forced to shut, absorbed in the LGF’s sphere of influence or forced to minimise the amount of work they carry out due to the LGF’s attempts to subvert their funding streams and establish rival services.

It’s hard to understand why the organisation continues to absorb and prevent the work of so many established but poorly funded groups other than to grow and expand and justify it’s own questionable existence. This type of behaviour always has consequences and the community which the LGF claims it exists to support will quite rightly begin to question it. As a result, a lot of whistle-blowing is going on in Princess House – the LGF’s headquarters in Manchester’s Gay Village… Our Google Analytics page tells GayMafiaWatch that we’ve had many visits from within the building via the LGF’s own Intranet system.. We know you are out there! and if you’ve got something you need to get off your chest then drop us a line, otherwise… watch this space because we’re coming for you next….


Youth Workers slam “Puffta”

May 3, 2008

As a result of last years GayMafiaWatch expose and a backlash to it’s badly-handled outreach into the community, Youth Workers from around the country have slammed Millivres Prowler’s “Puffta” website. Numerous professionals who run services and groups for LGBT young people have decided to remove links on their websites of the tabloid-style magazine aimed at young gay men which sells discounted poppers and explicit DVDs, advocates steroid use and promotes ‘the body beautiful’ stereotype which has been blamed as being the source of spiralling rates of poor mental wellbeing and high-risk behaviour.

Schools Out! The Lesbian and Gay Teachers group, known more recently for it’s launch of LGBT History Month and tackling homophobic bullying in schools has removed the link from it’s interactive Student Toolkit which was recently launched at a high profile event at the House of Commons. Posting in the National Youth Workers News Group, “Huw” – a youth worker in Peterborough and a member of Schools out said the link to Puffta was removed because it distracted from the good work being done by other, genuine, credible organisations. Positive Nation Magazine also featured Puffta last year and was faced with a barrage of letters from readers complaining about Puffta’s graphic imagery.

The lead youth worker at Gay and Lesbian Youth In Calderdale said “I only recently came upon Puffta because it was included in a link on Schools Out and had a look at it. I certainly would not put a link to it on any of the websites I am involved in (and have told Schools Out). There are many excellent websites for LGBT young people set up by LGBT youth groups around the country.”

Jean Wright who has set up a number of LGBT Youth projects across London over a period of 20 years and now works as a sexual health nurse in Lewisham also came across our article and had this to say “I am outraged at the style Puffta has chosen to imitate in it’s attempts to produce a resource aimed at young gay men”. “I have written to Millivres Prowler Group explaining the damage they are doing by targeting young gay men with these types of messages and the consequences individual face as a result”. “Marketing Puffta to an impressionable audience alongside mail-order sites that sell poppers and material that seems to promote steroids, bareback sex and reckless behaviour is extremely irresponsible”.

GayMafiaWatch view this response from the community as a positive result. The next step is one for the Millivres Prowler Group to take. It seems the way forward is for Millivres Prowler to divert it’s immense resources back into the community as opposed to it’s current tactic of simply stomping all over the existing support and groups out there that it could instead be publicising and working in partnership with.

In it’s own words (“Our Values” – on their website)  the comapny says it aimes to “behave ethically by being professional, honest and fair and to act with integrity at all times in building close, secure and lasting relationships.”

As it stands right now this is simply not true.

* Millivres Prowler Group (MPG) is the largest gay and lesbian business own Puffta along with the Pink Paper, AXM, the Gay Times, DIVA, a national chain of adult stores and a worlwide distribution network of various porn publications, magazines and books.


Puffta – Cashing in on Coming Out

May 12, 2007

Puffta, the self-styled online magazine aimed at young gay men has been designed solely to make money out of gay young people, who are sold a lifestyle to aspire to through it’s clever marketing campaigns. The site bills itself as “the UK’s leading site for gay teens” which is “often imitated”. Google doesn’t seem to think so, in fact there are dozens of ‘gay youth’ sites out there that rant dozens of pages high which have been about for as long as Puffta if not longer and who aren’t now fuelled by an unlimited PR machine. No doubt they are just as popular, but then who can say as Puffta is the only site to make this bold claim.

Not so long ago this little known website set up by 17 year old Simon Johnson in his bedroom was originally up and running as a lifestyle and support site for young gay men. It has recently been transformed into by the Millivres Prowler Group (in it’s own words) a” premier brand for gay youth”. Which is precisely what now Puffta is, it’s a product, a resource in which to sell and make a profit out of by it’s owners and advertisers. The site is a medium by which teenage gays are trained as future customers.

So what’s so wrong about that I hear you ask? Women’s magazines target lonely housewives with celebrity gossip whilst and make money by peddling cleaning products and make up, teenage girls magazines have done the same for years, and straight ‘lads mags’ have controversially exploited macho masculinity to sell cars and soft porn so what’s the big deal with the owners of Puffta making a few quid out of young gay guys?

Firstly, Puffta has attempted to establish the darker and damaging aspects of the so called ‘gay lifestyle’. Many of which you could argue are responsible for many of the social problems younger gay men face today. Young gay lads notoriously aspire to look buff, pretty, sexy, thin – because they are told to by the media. Puffta reinforces these often unrealistic aspirations, leading to even more lads who simply ‘do not fit in’ to feel excluded, suffer low-self-esteem, self-harm and attempt suicide.

As well as their original titles of the Gay Times, and Diva, the Millivres Prowler Group recently acquired struggling original gay news rag “The Pink Paper” and gay tabloid mag “AXM”. Millivres Prowler are now the most influential powerhouse in the gay media. It now appears Puffta is under their control.

Pop, Porn and Potions

Sexy black pop divas, photo galleries of pumped up steroid muscle-mary’s and reviews of pricey high street labels, crikey Puffta has pulled out all the stops to pull in an audience, “It’s what every gay boy ever wanted!” claims one reader. At least it’s what Puffta thinks they want, or what it wants them to want. It’s a narrow, vulgar and offensive generalisation of what it means to be a junior queer in Britain today. The cliché’s are blinding, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a parody.

What about other types of music other than commercial pop and dance? There’s nothing wrong with porn but then most guys I know that purchase dirty videos and magazines are in a position to – they earn good money and have no problem walking into clone zone or even HMV to buy it up front, or they have good networks of gay friends they can borrow and copy it from. When you’re living at home with your folks and are shit-scarred of walking into a shop to buy a mucky DVD and you don’t yet know many other gay guys to borrow from – except those you’ve chatted to online. I’ve done it myself. Younger gay men hunt the net for whatever they can find for free, or download pirate copies. There’s no money in that and that’s what Puffta is concerned about.

Cashing in on Coming Out

“Puffta priorities:
1. Going out (clubs/bars)
2. Drinking
3. Fashion & toiletries
4. Mobile phones
5. CDs & DVDs
6. Computer games
7. Holidays”

The Puffta “media pack” says it all. It makes an attractive pitch to potential advertisers;

“Teens don’t just spend their
own money, they spend
their parents cash, too!”

“Less work – more play! – Target not the limit”

This doesn’t help send out a responsible message to young gay people at all, combined with corporate gay charities such as Stonewall who are proud
to fund their anti-bullying initiatives in schools though an insane number of sponsorship deals with credit card companies like American Express, or the disproportionate number of queer students who drop out of university deep in debt (according to the National Union of Students).

“SPENDING POWER… Gay youth are consumers like everyone else.
Commercially aware, they know their brands but can be
particularly fickle. They have disposable income and
punch above their weight with their spending power.
They are male, aged 13-21, and are UK-resident.”
“The student market is worth £15 billion”

Puffta sponsored LGBT Student Pride in 2006.

The press pack does attempt to hold the horses and claim that’s not what Puffta’s solely about.

“What is important to stress is that Puffta is responding
to a genuine consumer need for something different,
rather than in any sense being supply-led to generate
ad sales revenue.”

This argument falls flat on it’s face when they then compares Puffta’s “something different” appeal to that of proper magazines. As far as I’m aware there are no
magazines on sale in the UK that publicly target 13-21 year old gay men in this way. Puffta is a website, it came runner up in the Boyz Magazine reader awards second only to Gaydar, and as we’ve already mentioned, there are dozens of quality internet resources out there that it duplicates. What makes Puffta different is that it’s full of targeted advertising and without that it would not exist. So what does Puffta think it is? Is it a community website, a dating service, a ‘lads mag’, a support group? It’s glossy packaging for all of those.

Sign up as a member to Puffta and you’ll be lucky to”see the SEX edition. We’re hot.” “We talk sex, sex, sex” – “hot xxx gallery” “naked men – how to see them” We’ve turned the members area into a special sealed SEX edition”. You’re also invited to enter a competition sponsored by condom giant Durex (owned by multinational corporation SSL International which has an annual turnover of £608.9 million). Puffta and Durex neglect to mention that as an ‘at-risk group’ most young gay men can get unlimited condoms and lubricant free on the NHS – or from gay youth groups and clinics such as Brook, nor do they visibly mention the need to use lube for anal sex. What an excellent foothold in the market for SSL thanks to Puffta… and you get to see some dirty photos in return.

Puffta does young gay men no favours. It is dangerous.

There are some very good articles on Puffta, and the site’s editors do try make a responsible effort to be a little objective, but that’s often contradicted by catchy cover stories which home in on people’s insecurities such as:

“Spotty Boys – ‘Scrub-up!” – a review of anti-acne lotions that Puffta recommends, with a gratuitous advert on the right hand side of the page for one such product. The title of the article is almost like an order. We all know that if getting rid of acne were as simple as investing in face wash then. Nearly everyone gets spots in their teenage years, it’s part of growing up and always has been. Our hormonal juices give us no choice. But when there’s so much pressure to look the part and bed that hunk, this type of article fuelled by product placement by big pharmaceutical companies should expect to be questioned.

“Smoking – Makes you Fat!” – If you’re not fat then you don’t worry about it do you? The article assumes the reader is thin. If you’re overweight then that kind of headline is going to grab you attention – and it can cause distress. The article is a cleverly disguised seemingly sensible article promoting anti-smoking. It’s basically saying being young, gay and overweight is bad, and Puffta does not approve! Besides, the evidence to base such a ludicrous claim like “smoking make you fat” is dubious and vague.

“Muscle Please!” – We popped down to Soho Gym Camden to have a look at the muscles on offer. We asked the beach ready beauties what muscle they like the best. Accompanied by vain articles entitled “Steroids – Bottled Muscle”. The article glamorises steroid use and links it to an exciting gay lifestyle of partying and sex with hunks. It neglects to mention the specific and horrific side effects Steroids can have on your health and your wealth. Puffta wants you to look good, and you want to look as
good as the blimp breasted model boys on nearly every page of the site. You’ll be able to show them off on the beach. Not surprisingly there’s been a steady boom in the gay travel industry with resorts like Gran Canaria, Sitges and Myknos – gay travel firms are big advertisers in Puffta’s sister publications, they bring in the big bucks. The popularity of such hedonistic sex holidays amongst gay men is not without a downside.

Recent surveillance by the Health Protection agency shows an alarming peak in the number of younger gay men acquiring HIV, syphilis and several other sexually transmitted infections that were at one point in decline, as well as new ones such as LVG. It blames the increase on increased travel from the UK by men who have frequent, casual sex with men to locations like Gran Canaria. The press pack tells us that holidays are Puffta’s priority #7. Back home the link between unprotected sex and use of drugs and alcohol causing a decrease in of inhibitions and an increase in risk taking is stronger than ever before according to the Terrance Higgins Trust. The gay scene has a lot to answer for. Going out/Clubbing – Puffta Priority #1, Drinking – Puffta Priority #2.

One Last Puff

Friends tell me “that’s what gay life is all about”. I say Puffta provides a good window on to many parts of gay life but it’s all to easy to feel they are pushing a way of life. It feels uncomfortably contrived. Puffta isn’t solely to blame for damaging the image of young gay men, nor do I believe it isn’t more than capable of realising it’s mistakes and evolving into something slightly more helpful to the gay cause but the devastating longer-term consequences of which we can see today in the older generations of gay men, who luckily were not the targets of this kind of mass-gay-junk-shop commercialism springing up all over the place are worrying at the least.

Just as well Puffta is only a website and not a magazine, because it’s just about Sold Out.

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