By Jason Baker  – From NY Times
PictureA centerfold from Issue 2
After nearly two startling years of provocative exposés, thrilling original exclusives, and perhaps the most unique perspective on the web and in print, Lee Wong's Alt Variety Magazine has officially come to an end. But is this ending only finite?

Alt Variety Magazine had humble beginnings as a strictly online blog which focused on investigative reporting, fringe culture, satirical political inquiries, the arts, freaks, geeks, porn, and illicit drug use. They also did regular celebrity interviews, for which, the subject matter was always droll, and far outside the typical narrative. Within a year they were both in print as a free booklet sized magazine and on Apple Newsstand as a free IOS app. Once in print their fearless, not always PC, perspective catapulted the magazine into the public eye and have since been much copied.

Claiming to have a circulation of 100,000 issues in New York city alone, the magazine became a talking point in many underground circles, but due to their uncompromisingly edgy content, Alt Variety seemingly failed to gain any traction in the mainstream publishing marketplace. The enormous expense of printing (even if their circulation was a fraction of what was alleged) was surely their demise as few corporate advertisers would touch such politically toxic affiliations with a ten foot pole.

Lee Wong, Alt Variety's Editor-in-Chief declined to apprise the media about his dealings during his tenure or the circumstance of their cessation as an enterprise, but he did venture to allege that their was a greater conspiracy at work beyond the Magazine's failure to gain advertising traction.

"There were forces at play which negated our influence as an viable business, both within the publishing world and beyond. Most of the mainstream press outright refused to aggregate our original content, and instead took our ideas and made them their own without any attribution. It was a problem I faced from day one and it was ultimately responsible for the demise of Alt."

But is this truly the end of Alt Variety? Lee Wong says maybe.

"An enormous sum of money and energy was invested into this enterprise, and I cannot foresee ever finding the initiative or backing to do it again."

As an avid reader of Alt Variety I have been utterly disheartened to see it suddenly vanish from the world. The magazine provided an outlet that no other publication has ever attempted to foster. It was like punk rock on paper, a mixture of R. Crumb, Vice, and a gay porn. I doubt any other publication will ever come close to imitating it, but lord knows some will try.


    Jason Baker is a writer and editor at Public Curiosities.


    New York City


    August 2013