After a show ends, the curtains must go down, but for former SMOOTH Magazine editor and present SHOW Magazine owner Sean Cummings, the "show" is just beginning. Residing in New York, Sean was destined to be in an environment that warranted his passion for working in the entertainment industry. First he committed to his position of editorial director to popular African American men's publication SMOOTH for three-and-a-half years, then he launched and managed his own type of "Black Men's Magazine" called SHOW. Not only did these forms of media cater to and revolutionize the culture of a specific race and gender; they challenged ideals of beauty and body image by using sultry, curvaceous women - of all different shapes and sizes. Finally, there are magazines that I can flip through and consistently relate to the women who appear in the centerfolds. Finally, there are magazines where my friend, my sister, or I can pose, because of the new norm of "real." Finally, there are magazines where majority of the models don't wear a size 6. Here, I stimulate editor Sean Cummings with questions about race, body image, and "sexiness." Check it out:
V.B. So, how did you grow up? Did you always want to pursue becoming a magazine writer or editor?
S.C. Not really. When I was young, I wanted to be a doctor. But early on, I did know I wanted to be a business man. At some point, I decided I wanted to be in entertainment; I just wasn't sure in which sector of entertainment. I did it all from TV, film, etc. One day, it just hit me that being in magazine publishing would allow me to be involved in all areas of entertainment.
V.B. Did you receive any specific type of education or experience to become this successful in the industry?
S.C. I studied business and marketing at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. However, I think success is about finding something you love to do and doing that thing to the best of your ability. Having been the Editorial Director for SMOOTH for 3 1/2 years, prior to creating and founding SHOW, I learned a lot, and that valuable experience is a big part of what I am able to do now. Experience is an important key in achieving any kind of success.
V.B. How did you come up with the idea of SHOW Magazine? Do you believe it significantly differs in comparison to other African American male publications, and why?
S.C. SHOW is a very specific execution of sexy glamour and is uniquely distinct from any other publication out there - be it urban or mainstream. I developed the concept for the type of photography we do, while I was still with SMOOTH. Once I left there, It was the perfect opportunity to put this idea in place. The most obvious reason we are different is because we shoot everything on colorful seamless backgrounds with very little props, etc. The main thing that separates us from the competition, however, is the quality of everything we do - from the quality of the women, the photography, and retouching the weight of our paper, to the large format of the actual magazine. We spend more time and money producing our products then anyone else does producing their's.
V.B. One of the most prominent features in your magazine are the respectable women. There was an article about how African American men's magazines (including yours) are putting in women with a wider variety of body shapes and ethnicities than, let's say, Maxim or FHM. This is so empowering, because so many mainstream publications - in general - don't do this as much as you guys do. Do you thank your culture's admiration for sexy, voluptuous, bootylicious females?
S.C. I remember that article. Culturally speaking, we value curvaceous women. However, SHOW is about love. We provide an experience for our readers that is about introducing them to beautiful women that they can fall in love with. Of course they love voluptuous women, but they also want that girl next door that is going to smile at them and look at them back. SHOW is - and has always been - about that pretty girl from high school that you were too shy to talk to, but had you approached her, you would've learned she was just as shy as you and would've loved to be your friend. The SHOW Girl is the one you fall in love with. Other magazines offer sex. We believe love is a much more powerful emotion than those involved with sex.
V.B. Saying that, what physical and emotional characteristics does your ideal SHOW girl possess? What advice can you give to aspiring SHOW models? How does the process work?
S.C. Any aspiring SHOW Girl can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The ideal SHOW girl is beautiful, inside and out. She comes in all shapes and sizes, colors and shades, and from anywhere in the world. It is important that I meet all perspective models in person before choosing them for SHOW, so they have to come to LA or meet me if I do an event in their hometown.
V.B. Have you ever experienced any backlash for your magazine? How did you end up responding?
S.C. We receive all kind of hate from "haters" in general. My philosophy has always been to ignore anything that is not constructive. You validate someone's existence, if you acknowledge their hate and give credence to what they do, if you respond. I operate in exile with cunning and stealth. Information is my currency, and I try not to share what I know regarding the mental capabilities of our detractors.
V.B. Name one strength and weakness of your magazine. Explain.
S.C. Our biggest strength is our overall business model that allows us to monetize our content over multiple platforms including print, mobile, internet, digital, etc. Our biggest weakness is the growing pains that comes from being a young company. Once we really figure this thing out, we will be on our way.
V.B. What consistent features do you place in your magazine? Any content changes you will make in the nearby future?
S.C. SHOW has pretty much been consistent from day one. Any changes and enhancements we make are just to the overall quality of the magazine. Changes dictated by the economy often include page count and distribution, but other than that, we continue to expand the brand beyond SHOW, so now we have SHOWCase, SHOWPeice, Black Lingerie, SHOW Girlz Latina and our first nude title, The Art of Sexy.
V.B. Other than the women, what culture-specific items do you try to convey about the African American male in your respective publication?
S.C. SHOW is about art, The Art of Sexy specifically. Our culture is very diverse, so we try to keep the magazine filled with a variety of women. We feature all ethnicities and races.
V.B. What is your present - or future - mission for this magazine?
S.C. We want to dominate the marketplace in every respect. Or mission is to provide a valuable entertainment experience for our readers. We are in the "making people happy" business. We want our readers, models, employees and business partners to be happy!