Envy Man, a glossy bimonthly, unlike say, flashy women's magazines, ensures that its cover subject is more than just a pretty face. He's a story, billed as "James Vaughan, Envy Man #06." Here we learn--and I'm guessing his parents are plotzing--that he's one of the "most recognizable names on the Strip." James is the star of the new adult revue "Bareback"--lions and tigers and bareback, oh, my!--and it's easy to see why. He's built like a Greek god, thanks to a six-day-a-week workout. Six! I go to the gym, zip around a few machines, punch the air in moral victory after 30 minutes, eat a Danish and call it quits.
And wouldn't you know--just like Elvis, James has always wanted to sing. Admittedly, I don't remember Elvis posing in his Spider-Man underwear, rising like Venus on the half-shell from a planter. But trust me, it's a better look than the Albert Speer-meets-Las Vegas jumpsuit he wore in his 1969 comeback special.
Given its high-gloss production values, the magazine's emphasis is photographic. Which may be a plus, since the typeface is pretentious. Unlike what men used to say about Playboy, no one is reading Envy Man for the articles. Consider the 14-page spread dubbed "The Envy Code," which opens with four pages of nudes posed in religiously significant ways--specifically, illustrating elements of "The Last Supper" and "Pieta." Opinion will be divided as to whether this constitutes the sacred or profane.
The tableau--and here's the interesting bit--showcases one man shot from various angles and posed, then carefully placed to mimic religious iconography. That he's in contention for Mr. Universe isn't a surprise. Check out Renaissance paintings, and you'll discover that Moses and Jesus had access to the only Nautilus machines in the ancient world.
The remaining 10-page spread showcases young male models that have parlayed insouciant hair into a career. One is particularly eye-catching, in an El Greco kind of way. He's wearing the longest scarf in existence, which just happens to match his periwinkle-blue eyes. Dreamboat is carrying a bottle of Dewar's and sporting lush, cherubic lips. Did I mention the black leather pants? Or the "God Loves" graffiti scrawled on a grimy column nearby? Unfortunately, there wasn't room to add "God Loves...A Crowd," because this is one of his creatures who will never be lonely.
But wait, there's more! And some of it is even in print. Envy Man is more than just a pretty face. Envy Man's profile of photographer Michael Fatali, whose specialty is exquisite nature photography, was touching. For a moment, I was ready to book a flight to Tucson, until I remembered I don't drive. Similarly, the interview with crooner Brian Evans was revealing. Evans says he's going to be famous. He just knows it. Which is why he's plugging his current CD on QVC, where most people plug their jewelry. Hey! He's a decider. And he decided that Envy Man, with its artistically rendered ads for gay erotica, is the best place to announce he's destined for greatness.
In the end, Envy Man's stock-in-trade is fantasy--and a few pages of cool stuff. Who wouldn't want to buy the spa supplies, such as a rice sake bath or an Estee Lauder eye patch? Among its ingredients is a powerful bio-peptide, which is probably chemistry for monkey glands. Still, we're talking youth and beauty! What your parents didn't give you, science can. Let's be clear: So Envy Man's typeface is annoying. So the ads are shills. But what of the boys, you ask? Primo. What else do we need to know?