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Jack Radcliffe on the cover of Bear Magazine (Issue No. 65, September 2008.)
|Circulation||30,000 (2010)|
|Publisher||Bear Omnimedia LLC|
|Based in||Las Vegas, NV, United States|
BEAR Magazine is a periodical specifically geared toward gay and bisexual men who are — or who admire — "bears", i.e., men with facial and/or body hair. It was initially published in San Francisco, California in 1987 by Richard Bulger and his partner Chris Nelson and marketed to the bear community within the larger LGBT community.
In San Francisco, in 1987, Richard Bulger began a self-xeroxed magazine called BEAR, dedicated to the appreciation of hairy, bearded, masculine gay men--something completely unrepresented at the time. Bulger had been running a modeling agency called Creative Options Agents (COA) with his photographer partner Chris Nelson. He saw a need for broader markets--and broader models. Thus, with his connection to gritty, edgy gay biker culture and proximity to the Lone Star Saloon; with the growing success of "'zine" desktop underground publication taking hold in San Francisco, Richard saw a unique opportunity. Common lore is that BEAR Magazine was begun by a man named Bart Thomas, who died of AIDS before the magazine was first published. In fact "Bart Thomas" was a pseudonym Richard Bulger chose for himself ("bart" being the German word for "beard") in the earliest days of the project. A good friend of Richard Bulger named David Grant was reported to have suggested the name "Daddy Bear" for this new magazine just before his death from complications from AIDS.
The first copy of BEAR Magazine consisted of 45 xeroxed copies, promoted in "The Big Ad" and "Handjob Quarterly" (two established 'zines currently enjoying success at the time).
Originally created as an alternate to the abundance of shaven men represented in gay mainstream media, BEAR grew over the course of years into an internationally distributed glossy magazine, which featured erotic photographs of masculine, mature men and erotic stories. There was also a classified personals section which, before the emergence of the internet, was one of the few ways for men to find compatible romantic and sexual partners, and to network with like-minded men.
The first formal company office was established above a 1908 former fire-house at the corner of 16th and Albion Streets in San Francisco, where their various publications, clothing and lifestyle products were also displayed and sold. Then in 1994 Brush Creek Media moved its office and Bear Store to 367 9th Street in the South-of-Market district which is the center of San Francisco's gay leather district and around the corner from Rick Redewill's Lone Star Saloon.
It is important to mention that the close proximity of Brush Creek Media to the Lone Star Saloon resulted in a synergistic relationship. With the Bear Store and nearby bars, shops and hotels catering to the bear-identified, the Lone Star Saloon eventually became the quintessential bear bar, further igniting the bear movement. This formed a circuit for locals, tourists and visitors to events like International Bear Rendezvous and Folsom Street Fair among others. Later that year in 1994, Beardog Hoffman purchased Brush Creek Media Inc. and began expanding the company into several special-interest gay magazines and video series.
A New Chapter
In 2006, the BEAR trademark was judicially assigned and registered to Butch Media Ltd of Las Vegas, Nevada, a creditor of Brush Creek Media. Similarly, in 2007 the court assigned BEAR Magazine and all the Brush Creek Media copyrights to Butch Media Ltd. Bear Omnimedia LLC, the parent company of Butch Media Ltd, revived BEAR Magazine in 2008 starting with issue #65. Under the new direction of Steven Wolfe (Publisher/Editor-in-Chief) and photographer Teddy Mark, the format was again updated in 2010 for an evolved bear movement and LGBT community, and now covers broader aspects of masculinity. BEAR Magazine continues in print as well as digital formats.
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