Does Orlando really deserve a good fashion magazine? Probably not. Will Orlando ever get one? Not as long as Armand Kulpa has anything to do with it.
A year ago, the local night crawler founded Karma, a bimonthly magazine "obsessed with providing readers a focused view of the everyday lifestyle, the nightlife, and the culture of the city beautiful `sic`." The magazine's mission statement, perhaps translated from Japanese, promised us "provocative journalism and bold photography."
What we got was soulless fluff and heartless cruelty inflicted upon the English language.
There simply could not be a worse local magazine than Karma. Thick, shiny copies sat untouched in hair salons and fitness centers all over town that had bartered for ad space. Inside the mag, models vamped alongside clumsily edited pieces written for those who were written about. Deadly dull stories were obscured by a garish, unreadable Carlton font. Karma's only hope would be a total overhaul.
Enter rotund mogul Lou Pearlman. In September, Pearlman bought Karma and was ready to inject some cash into the withering operation. But a new name, Industry, and a new focus on "raw, unexposed talent" cannot mask the fact that it's basically the same magazine. Like Lou, it's just thicker and blonder.
Not one story in the premiere edition is even remotely compelling. A pointless article on body painting precedes a first-person account of a hot-air-balloon ride, labeled "Xtreme Style." An ad for Pearlman's new television show, "It's All About You," shares a spread with a dripping biography of the "man responsible for making so many dreams come true."
"Celebrity" profiles include Jenny McShane, star of HBO's "Shark Attack," and Beth Ostrosky, best known for being Howard Stern's girlfriend.
Then there's "Scene," a popular carryover from Karma that's nothing but a collection of party photos taken at clubs such as Blue Room and SKY60. Each poseur is identified by first name and last initial, as if at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
Sadly, Industry is the print embodiment of all that is "upscale" Orlando: artificial, overwhelmingly white and much too vapid to be gay. What does it say about a city when the fancy-pants magazine is a freebie?
And what does Industry say about its editor-in-chief?
Armand Kulpa must be hard at work on ad sales, because he certainly isn't getting much editing done. How else can a 60-day production cycle not include proofreading? There are more typos and grammatical errors in the first issue (at least 105) than pages in the entire book (100, including the covers). Kulpa is strangely infatuated with the random capitalization of common nouns, while proper nouns receive an all-caps treatment ("Dishes are stacked in the sink, the SENTINEL is piled up by the door ... ").
One former business partner of Kulpa's isn't surprised by the magazine's blunders. He describes Kulpa's new position as "laughable," considering his complete lack of editorial experience.
In an interview at the Industry offices, I asked Kulpa to detail his publishing r&eactue;sum&eactue;. He began in ad sales at Gainesville's Insite, and then took a similar position at the short-lived MCO here in Orlando. That's it.
Basically, he's a salesman wearing the editor's hat, but he may not even need to sell ads for Industry to be a financial success.
Kulpa intends to expand Industry into the nationally circulated, in-house promotional rag for Pearlman's new "model-scouting" company, Trans Continental Talent. Copies outside Orlando will contain a 20-page booklet hyping TCT's services. Kulpa claims he'll eventually reach a total circulation of 800,000 in TCT's 30 largest markets. That would top GQ's circulation, a figure that Industry employees are absolutely sick of hearing around the office.
There's still no word on how readers in Los Angeles will react to glowing reviews of Maison & Jardin, a restaurant in Altamonte Springs. But our own already thin ad market will be further depleted by a well-funded magazine that no one really reads or cares about. Which leaves Orlando with no room for a genuine, young-lifestyle publication.
A high-quality, local fashion magazine should lend a knowing subjectivity, a critical eye. It should have an emphasis on trendy clothing (you know, fashion), and where to find it locally. Most importantly, it should not be a shill for a shady company or a self-indulgent editor.
Miami has Ocean Drive, New York has Vanity Fair. All we get is vanity.