Kurt Andersen has now taken over as editorial director and spent a year revamping the book. The magazine is distributed in 30 countries, but something is lost in the global scope, and the end result not only lacks intellectual and political heft, but it has none of the irreverence or cultural impact of Spy -- Andersen's previous post -- that is unless you count the latest centerfold of two giraffes doing it doggie style.
The Spring 2005 issue tackles the world of lust, which the editors, describe as something that "begins in our collective imagination as a sexual thing - an oddly pleasurable form of temporary insanity, in ideal circumstances a madness indulged with a loved one - but for many of us, it can have everything and nothing to do with sex."
The issue, mostly driven by photographs, sets out to show us this insanity in all its form. There is an article about a wannabe new Plato's Retreat in Los Angeles, a cliché architecture story about how the size of a building is like the size of the architect's penis, comments from a nun on celibacy, a photo essay about people's lust for collecting everything from toy penguins to George Patton memorabilia, and a boring piece about "the playboy."
The single article that held my attention for longer than a paragraph was about the Congolese Sapeurs, an African religious society that worships through the accumulation of haute couture.
Colors, is fun to look at, almost in the same way that Vogue is fun to look at, but rather than swooning fashion plates, it's a mix of quirky stories that might end up on NPR or the National Geographic channel. The photographs are by far the best part of the book, followed by a front-of-the-book map of the world that offers survey statistics on lust in different countries. For example, 60 percent of South Africans say that they watch porn, the Japanese say they have sex less than once a week on average, and 56 percent of Icelanders use sex toys.
Although nice-looking, the magazine is not fun to read. It seems to have fallen into the shopping magazine trap of letting art become more important than words, which in this case, isn't necessary since people aren't exactly picking up Colors to shop through. The words of the stories don't pop on the page and there is a lack of good story telling, which is disappointing and may just be why the project falls short on real global impact.