If you’re going to kill trees, you’d better make it spectacular,” says publishing veteran Richard Klein, who—against all apparent odds and a mercurial media landscape—launched his latest print venture out of his SoMa office this month. And from the outset, FourTwoNine looks to be something truly special.
Klein, who founded Surface magazine from his San Francisco living room back in 1993, is CEO of dot429, a professional network and online media brand for the gay and lesbian community. Since its launch in 2010, dot429 members and partners had craved a companion magazine—“there was a definite gap in the market,” Klein says. But to launch a national publication out of the Bay Area, he knew he’d need the best team he could get.
Enter FourTwoNine editor in chief Kevin Sessums, whose name most media junkies will recognize. In addition to authoring the award-winning memoir Mississippi Sissy, Sessums is the former executive editor of Interview and has long acted as a Vanity Fair contributor. For the magazine’s debut issue, the editor got out his proverbial Rolodex and began calling his friends.
The Friendship Issue, on shelves nationwide this month, is a who’s who of boldface names, with features that pivot on conversations between such all-stars as designer Thom Browne and Met Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton, and includes contributors such as Salman Rushdie, Amy Fine Collins, and Michael Cunningham. And with Klein’s penchant for high style and design, there is no skimping in the art department. “Transgressive Beauty,” a fashion editorial shot by photographer Ruven Afanador, was inspired by the exhibit “A Queer History of Fashion” at The Museum at FIT. Even artist David Hockney has a credit on the masthead.
The goal of FourTwoNine is to transcend its LGBT roots and foster a broader audience. “We don’t walk down the street with gay branded on our foreheads,” says Klein. “That’s only one facet of who we are as people,” adds Sessums, “and will be only one facet of the magazine.” Exhibit A: The beaming Sarah Jessica Parker, who, along with her friend and Bravo exec Andy Cohen, graces the inaugural cover.
This article was published in 7x7's October issue. Click here to subscribe.