Though fag rag HX announced its sale, it hasn’t announced its buyer. But insiders tell Queerty that competing NYC gay weekly Next is the suspected acquirer — even though these two magazines are no strangers to feuding.
The sale — not yet confirmed — would make sense in one respect. In the declining print advertising market, consolidation is perhaps the only true hope for survival. There’s always been a tense relationship between Next (edited by Brian Moylan and published by David Moyal) and HX: They both served the same type of reader, and they both went after the same advertisers. And both struggled to convince advertisers they should spend with their title, since most gays in New York can be spotted reading both of these weekly glossies. But as we’ve seen with this week’s closure the New York Blade (and last year’s New England Blade), nobody is immune.
If you’re in the business of publishing a gay niche title, you’re facing a nightmarish scenario. See: Genre.
But it’s sort of startling to think the publisher of one of these magazines thinks they can profitably publish two of them. If Next picks up HX for pennies on the dollar, it could prevent another buyer coming in to the market and threatening Next‘s market. By buying HX, Next effectively crushes the competition, and scores a monopoly on … gay bar listings. But running two extremely similar titles? Not a recipe for success.
Meanwhile, we’re told HX Media’s Matthew Bank continues to look for a buyer for HX’s Expo division, which is said to be looking at shallow revenues and debt issues — often not the best things to have on the books when looking for a buyer.
Also not helping things? Unconfirmed rumors flying around that Bank and boyfriend Peter Hemmel — not exactly friends of their staffers — paid themselves lavishly out of HX’s coffers amidst reports that staffers had trouble receiving their paychecks, going days and weeks without pay, with payroll dates continually being pushed off. Publisher Gary Lacinski reportedly used cash out of his own pocket to satisfy an angry batch of staffers. Of course, stories of employee turmoil and revolt at HX are nothing new.