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COVER CLUES?: On the cover of April’s Details, Vin Diesel gazes listlessly into the camera while his left hand travels down his lower abdomen, his middle finger venturing down his pants. Across the middle of the page, his name is capitalized in...

COVER CLUES?: On the cover of April’s Details, Vin Diesel gazes listlessly into the camera while his left hand travels down his lower abdomen, his middle finger venturing down his pants. Across the middle of the page, his name is capitalized in bright pink letters. The accompanying article inside, meanwhile, mentions that Diesel has never had a longtime girlfriend, that he has a predilection for dancing at nightclubs with his shirt off and that he is chatting with Nicole Kidman about making the musical Guys and Dolls as a film.

What’s that, gay, you say?

The article never uses the g-word, but between the typeface on the cover and the accompanying article, many in the industry felt that Details was pushing the line, dancing around questions of Diesel’s sexuality while at the same time attempting to get maximum mileage out of speculation that he might be gay.

“I think it’s an attempt to titillate people with the mention of ambiguous sexuality,” said Brendan Lemon, the editor of Out. “Anytime there’s a star, people like to gossip about their sexuality. Esquire did it with Kevin Spacey and now Details is doing it with Vin Diesel. Details has always had gay readers, that’s no secret. It makes sense they would try to appeal to them.”

Another competing men’s magazine editor said, “they are really the fashion mag for the financially troubled and sexually ambiguous and insecure. They’ve got coverlines on why it’s okay to pay for sex, how to tell your girlfriend you’re gay, straight gays that get rich making gay porn, the unemployment survival guide. If you put it all together, you have someone with the fashion sense, the dating prospects and the financial future of Michael Jackson. He’s gone bankrupt, he doesn’t know his sexual orientation and on top of it all, his mother dresses him funny.”

Dan Peres, the editor in chief of Details, insisted Monday that the cover story was not attempting to out Diesel, but added that he does edit a magazine with the consideration that it will be read by people of all sexual persuasions. And what’s wrong with that?

“I have 400,000 readers, some are gay, some are straight and some may even be dressed by their mothers,” Peres said. “And if people are offended by the occasional gay references in Details then they should stick to Maxim, Stuff and FHM, or even GQ, Esquire and any other magazine that is terrified of going anywhere near gay. As far as Michael Jackson is concerned, there is nothing less clever than making a Michael Jackson crack.

“We thought the pink was a nice match with the grey logo,” he added. “We never even consider the sexuality when choosing the color of our coverlines. That’s that. With regards to the article, we’re certainly not outing anyone. As far as I know, he’s not a gay man, nor does the article go out of his way to assert that he’s gay. It’s a straight, if you will, profile.”

A spokeswoman for Diesel said that she also did not see a subliminal message in the article or its presentation. — Jacob Bernstein

GOLIN’S GIRLS: Once Time Inc. decided to avoid the beer ‘n’ babes mudbath and not import the lad book Loaded from the U.K., the question was whether Mark Golin would stay there or return to his real parent, AOL. (His day job before moving to Time, Inc., in a temporary capacity, had been as creative director of AOL’s Moviefone.)

But now Time Inc. has won custody of him — Golin’s new title is creative director of Time Inc. Interactive. Golin hasn’t completely left AOL behind him, though: he’ll be the creative guru behind linking the Time Inc. magazines to AOL’s online channels, with four market segments officially on his watch (teenage girls, kids, women and entertainment). Sources at Time Inc. say Golin has been spending the bulk of his time conferring with Teen People managing editor Barbara O’Dair on her magazine’s impending online move. The other Time titles looking to launch exclusively on AOL are People, In Style and Entertainment Weekly, which could happen as early as this week, a source said.

O’Dair and Golin could not be reached for comment. — Greg Lindsay