Maxim has named Glenn O’Brien editor at large. The role is essentially a replacement for Kate Lanphear, who was let go as editor in chief last month after six months on the job. WWD spoke to O’Brien about why he is called editor at large and not editor in chief, and he replied, “I can’t take that kind of pressure.”
Still, the editor noted that he would “have all the authority” as editor in chief, and that he was assured that no one on the editorial side would be hired above him.
O’Brien, who started at Maxim on Tuesday, will work closely with the magazine’s owner Sardar Bilgari to remake the men’s title to include more in-depth features and men’s fashion, aims that Lanphear held as well.
“Men’s magazines are more juvenile now. It’s like 12 ways to decorate your dorm room. I want to do something for a more mature audience,” O’Brien said, before turning to how he met Bilgari, the Persian billionaire who purchased the men’s glossy for about $12 million.
“Some friends of mine brought up my name to Sidar,” O’Brien said nonchalantly. “We saw eye to eye on things. We wanted to do really great fashion and get the best writers, photographers and illustrators. I see a gap in the men’s market.”
When asked about Lanphear’s quick exit and the pressure the editor had on her shoulders to remake the magazine, O’Brien offered: “I don’t think there’s a gun to my head in terms of getting results.”
The editor, who is perhaps best known for his 15-year-stint as GQ’s “The Style Guy” columnist, will continue to work on side projects, which include writing gigs and his new show on Apple TV for WME/IMG’s Made2Measure channel.
He noted that his desire to be out in the field makes him a “more effective” editor.
O’Brien will certainly have his work cut out for him. Last month, the magazine revealed to WWD its plans to lower its rate base from 2 million to 900,000. It also unveiled a second redesign since it relaunched the magazine under Lanphear in 2014.
Despite declining newsstand sales, which went from 131,099 in February to 95,471 in June/July, Maxim has been able to secure more advertising pages. According to data from the Publisher’s Information Bureau, the lad mag nabbed a 63.8 percent increase in ad pages in the January to September period to 246.51.