I can’t believe I-S Magazine is 10 years old. When did it start?
Our first issue came out on Aug 7, 1995.
If you started in 1995, how come you’re just doing this issue now?
It’s very un-Singaporean of us, but we decided to take a non-kiasu approach and celebrate our anniversary at a leisurely pace. We did our 10th Anniversary Readers’ Choice Awards in September, our 10-year retrospective issue now, and stay tuned for a big, upcoming, celebration event happening soon. Hell, we’re 10 all year long, so what’s the rush?
Don’t you guys ever get in trouble for the stuff you write?
Absolutely not, unless you count the time we got our publishing license taken away for a month due to personals ads which were said to “promote alternative lifestyles,” or the time we got taken to task for a story criticizing the development of Pulau Ubin, or the time we were the victim of a letter-writing campaign against Dan Savage’s raunchy sex advice, or the time we were advised to tone down our coverage of gay issues, or the countless letters and phone calls we’ve gotten from restaurants who received a less-than-stellar review. And let’s not even talk about the people who spew venom over Terry Ong’s film and theater commentaries. Basically, it’s just another day at the office.
How did I-S Magazine start?
Like any successful business venture, it grew out of a genuine market need. In our case, the need to get invited to a better class of cocktail parties.
I love your Restaurant Guide. How can I get a copy?
Friend, you’re in luck. The latest edition of the Restaurant Guide has just been published. You can get one (or 10, they’re great for gifts) by sending $5 per copy to: Asia City Publishing Pte. Ltd., Restaurant Guide 2006, I-S Magazine, #13-01 Bangkok Bank Bldg., 180 Cecil St., Singapore 069546.
Will you write about my (choose one): restaurant; nightclub; product launch; sure-fire-hit show; fading career; revolutionary business idea that is destined to change the world?
All the other magazines write about us when we buy ads. Why not I-S Magazine?
We love to write about our advertisers, and very often do. The difference with us is that the decision of when and how to write about advertisers (and non-advertisers, for that matter) is made by our editorial department, not our ad department. Sometimes this gets us into trouble. Sometimes (shock! horror! break our hearts!) it costs us ad contracts. Very often it makes our sales team pull their hair out, smoke far too many cigarettes and have collective nervous breakdowns. Why go to all the trouble? Because our readers are smart enough to know an honest opinion from a fake one, and because letting advertisers control the content of independent publications is ultimately not good for either the advertiser or the publication.
Who writes the Page 3 editorial?
Various members of our senior editorial staff have contributed over the years, and it’s usually a joint effort. But most of the credit has to go to the many wacky people who say and do such outrageous things. We see ourselves more as scribes or diarists recording the news of the day, with just a little twist.
Is the media environment in Singapore opening up?
Yes, but progress is glacial. There does seem to be more room for political commentary these days, but less for content related to non-traditional sexuality. Change in Singapore occurs through a process of three steps forward, and two steps back. Right now, we’re in the two-steps-back stage.
Who writes your restaurant reviews? Do they really go undercover?
They are written by our super-sneaky team of reviewers who go, order, eat, pay and digest without the knowledge of the restaurant they are reviewing. We choose which places to review and when, always trying to stay on top of new spots and returning to old favorites regularly for an update. Reviewers include our edit staff, plus some trusted freelancers. We write from a typical diners’ perspective, and cover the gamut from fine dining to local holes-in-the-wall. Restaurants do not pay for reviews (and, frankly, some would probably pay us not to come).
Why can’t I ever find you? and Do you do subscriptions?
You’re obviously hanging out in the wrong 365 groovy restaurants, cool coffeeshops, hip health clubs, sophisticated arts venues, and trendy retail shops every Friday, or else you’re just too slow off the mark. Get with the program. Copies go fast, you snooze you lose. No, we don’t offer subscriptions. It’s survival of the fittest.
Gosh, when did you go weekly?
Do you know there’s a magazine in Hong Kong that looks like a rip-off of I-S Magazine?
Yes, we do. And if we’re doing anything at all right, there’s also one that looks like us in Bangkok, and even Shanghai. We all belong to the same company and actually talk to each other (though not enough) and sometimes even plan regional stories together. Like our recent sex survey which revealed that 53% of male and 25% of female readers across Asia have masturbated at work. Where else would you get such vital and riveting facts?
What’s your circulation?
OK, here are the numbers: our average audited pick-up rate per issue currently stands at 28,605 every week. (We are audited by Media Circulations Services of Singapore.) In addition, we mail out or hand out another 865 copies each week on average. That means 29,470 copies are getting into the hands of readers. We print a total of 30,000 copies each issue, so there are only about 500 copies left over at the end of the day – that’s less than two percent of our total print run.
Why do you use American spellings?
In pre-George W. Bush days, we were actually proud that all three founders of our company were from the US (plus, we had already bought the dictionaries). Now we are considering changing the official language of all our magazines to Albanian.
Why is your magazine so big?
Why are the others so small?
Why is I-S Magazine free?
Because the best things in life always are.