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2013 February 20

Who's Out? Meet Aaron Hicklin

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(NEW YORK) How does a bloke go from reporting on the Bosnian War to EIC of Out magazine? It’s the unusual story of Aaron Hicklin, who runs America’s largest gay monthly glossy from Out's HQ, perched above a pet store in Brooklyn. BY EDDIE ROCHE  

How have you changed Out since arriving in 2006?
I wanted Out to be Bowie gay, not Cher gay. I have nothing against Cher, but Bowie to me was a real artist: eternally cool, super-creative, his sexuality is fluid.

Did that piss off a lot of people?
Some people thought there was a certain presumption and arrogance. I have plenty of critics! I’ve grown a thick skin, but you can’t worry too much about pleasing your critics. Plenty of people probably think the magazine now is slight, superficial, and not rigorous or thoughtful enough. That’s true, occasionally.

How’d you enter the biz?
Back in university, I wanted to be a hardcore news reporter. In 1993, the Bosnia War was going on. I was doing entertainment listings at The Scotsman; I told my editors I wanted to go to Bosnia. I went for three weeks. I saw crazy things. It was thrilling and terrifying. You write really well in those situations: stories write themselves.It’s much harder to write a profile of a fashion designer than to write about five hours in a refugee camp or a hospital in Sarajevo. 

How did you get from Bosnia to Out?
I was invited to a dinner with Bob Guccione Jr. in Scotland; he’d also covered Bosnia for Spin, and we bonded over that. The next day, we had a long breakfast and discussed me coming to New York to be a senior editor at Gear. I didn’t even know what a senior editor did! I arrived in 1998, was at Gear for a few years, it folded, then I went to Blackbook.

Gotcha! What’s Out up to lately?
We took a hard and thoughtful look at what was happening with print. We weren’t utilizing our staff in the most efficient way. Out is operated by Here Media, a TV company; we work with them as a content provider. Now I’m responsible for the editorial costs of what we do run through my brand-new company, Grand Editorial. It was a chance to be more creative. 

How many straight guys are reading Out?
Not too many! I look forward to the day when straight men won’t feel awkward picking up a copy.

How about lesbian readers?
No, most of our readers are gay men.  I’m well aware that it upsets people, but it’s not always possible to do a magazine that’s completely 50/50.

What’s your fave cover?
The best cover we’ve ever done was Neil Patrick Harris. Adam Lambert also sells really well, with gay men and straight women.

How fashion-y is Out?
Our March issue has around 50 pages of fashion. We profile a lot of gay designers. We’ve even profiled Miuccia Prada—and she rarely gives interviews!

Hermes, Vuitton, and Calvin advertise in Out. How do you snag such chic ads?
We have to work for every dollar. People who look after ad budgets are rarely gay. If you’re a Condé title, it’s probably easier to make your case.  

Why’d you move the mag to Carroll Gardens?
New York is moving eastwards! A small magazine is a natural fit for Brooklyn; there’s lots more creative energy than there is in Manhattan.

Do you ever hit up the pet store downstairs?
My cat loves it. I bring treats home every night!

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