I sincerely hope the self confessed smut-hounds responsible for writing the Ministry of Sound’s new magazine get their kicks outside work. Because, flicking through the pages of what’s been hyped as a “long-awaited” magazine “by clubbers for clubbers” will probably leave real die-hard clubbers with a sense of anti-climax. That is, unless they really want to read about sex, sex and more sex.
Ministry, according to the PR blurb, is the UK’s first magazine to reflect all aspects of clubbing life. But its claim somewhat arrogantly ignores the existence of magazines like Mix Mag, The Face and Muzik. And, at first glance, it is difficult to see what Ministry is doing which is strong enough to woo their readers away.
Perhaps this is missing the point. Maybe Ministry is all about tapping into a new readership, consisting of coach loads of likely lads from Essex who need a crash-course in aspirational youth culture – and, of course, sex.
Certainly, anyone with a bit of club savvy is likely to find Ministry that bit too obvious. The pages are packed full of articles on mainstream club themes from DJs and fashion to drugs and sex. There’s a piece on the ubiquitous super-DJs Judge Jules and Pete Tong, a beginners guide to the latest music fad “speed garage”, and an article on herbal highs.
Oh, and sex – Ministry is positively loaded with it. There’s a feature on how to pull off a quick bonk almost anywhere in a club; or you can get an insight into lesbian sex, feast your eyes on a double-page spread of kinky dildos – shown in “eye-watering actual size”, or learn how to order a life-size plastic sex-doll over the Internet. Mmmm.
Given the Ministry of Sound’s strictly glamorous dress-code, fashion makes up a surprisingly small part of what’s on offer in the magazine. And what is included is photographed in a somewhat downbeat style, with slightly out-of-focus pictures and no-frills layout to a design by Cass Spencer. There are also articles on Burt Reynolds and Marky Mark, and a review section including an update on clubs which steers away from idolising nights at the eponymous south London venue.
While Ministry could so easily be written off for its unimaginative, in-yer-face content, it stands a pretty good chance of succeeding, not least because it has the backing of Dennis Publishing. It is aimed at 17- to 25-year-olds, many of whom will be willing to pay the 2.40 cover price – for the first issue at least – because it comes with a free CD.
The real test will come in February when the hype has died down and most people – even the most up-for-it clubbers – are drawing in the purse strings after Christmas. If anyone can make a glossy, aspirational club magazine work, it is Ministry of Sound owner, James Palumbo, the man who has managed to keep his nightclub at the forefront of London club life since it opened in 1991, despite the notoriously fickle nature of the UK’s club scene.
He does this, he says, by changing the way the club looks every six weeks to keep it fresh. Just how he will keep Ministry magazine fresh – if indeed it ever was – will be interesting to watch.