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A week later, we returned to examine more closely. Though the block-long Maxim window display was ripped down in preparation for the upcoming Macy's Flower Show, the installation had been given a more permanent home up on the 6th floor, sandwiched between Charter Club and DKNY linens. A trio of beds showcased Maxim's polyester/cotton bedding, all in acceptable straight-male prints: variegated stripes of dark sage, muddy brown, and black; a pale taupe shade with subtle circle embroidery. Supposedly guys don't like prints, but they do like Maxim. Above two of the beds were TVs flashing clips of celebrities like Jaime Fox and The Rock at Maxim parties; a graph charting the magazine's success; and boasts of the publication's groundbreaking, investigative journalism, with a Maxim magazine article on Baghdad as evidence. All this visual stimulation, boys, and you may just forget you're buying a duvet cover with matching shams.
Turns out Maxim Living bedding is not only the random whimsy of some execs high up in the Dennis Publishing ether, but a branding dream played out over several years. The bedding debuted last year; Maxim Living home and entertainment furniture, two years ago. Add to this the Maxim radio station on Sirius Satellite and the hair-color line for men. This summer in Miami's South Beach, the company will break ground on a new venture with nightlife mogul Rande Gerber: Maxim Lounge, a bar whose style will be, and we quote directly from the press release, "Kid Rock meets Gucci." The plans are to role out more clubs in other major U.S. cities over the next two years.
But at least for now, the big push is the Maxim Living's home-furnishings empire: barware, TV stands, office desks, linens. With the tagline "put some love in that shack," the company makes no bones about its not-so-subtle advertising: Buy our hamper, get laid. Here is the Maxim Living description of the bar-tools set: "This smart, seven-piece stainless steel cocktail set includes a strainer, stirrer, spoon . . . iced tongs. No, not iced thongs. Although now that you mention it, that might make for an interesting addition." For a comforter: "You may not be ready to hand her that two-karat stone just yet, but you can still knock her socks off (and maybe even more than that!) with this sporty Diamond pattern bed cover." We'd give you more, but must pause for a second to readjust our sequoia-sized penis.
Nowhere in these photos of audio towers and perfectly-made beds on Maxim Living's site or those of its participating retailers (Macy's, Circuit City, Target) do we see the publication's moneymaking visuals, its lusty cash cows: Why isn't a Jessica Alba doppelgänger with lust in her eyes and polyester/cotton blends on her brain rolling around on those macho-man sheets? Where are the boobs? Shouldn't there be some titties chilling on the TV desk stand, perhaps squooshed into a cocktail shaker? Our guess is that selling to every Macy's and Circuit City across America required the Dennis Publishing honchos to reign it in. Perhaps with Maxim's upcoming extension into food, there will be a magical mixing of breasts and BBQ sauce, at least in the magazine's print ads. A Survivor flunkee/Maxim covergirl clutching a bearskin rug in one hand and a jar of Maxim's extra-extra-chunky salsa in another?