Jane is raunchy. Jane is randy. Jane is snide and sarcastic and self-centered. Jane is a little nutty and a little slutty. Jane is cheesy and sleazy and trashy. And I mean that in the best possible way.
Jane is a magazine aimed at twenty-something women who like to think of themselves as wild and crazy. It was founded in 1997 and named for its editor, Jane Pratt, who had previously edited Sassy, a magazine for teenage girls who liked to think of themselves as wild and crazy. If Pratt, who is now 41, someday starts a magazine for middle-aged women who like to think of themselves as wild and crazy, nobody in the mag biz will be the slightest bit surprised.
Jane competes with magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Glamour, which are awful. Jane is awful, too, if truth be told, but it's awful in a good way, a charming way, a quirky way. Cosmo and Glamour are formulaic and predictable, but you can never guess what Jane will print next. Here are the titles of a few recent articles:
"Who Needs Food Now That I'm on Depression Meds?"
"My Boyfriend Used to Be My Girlfriend"
"When I Smoke Pot, I Turn Into Ms. Satan."
Jane provides its 700,000 readers with important information: how to open a beer bottle without an opener, how to train your brain to have dreams of sex with celebrities, and which SUVs are the most comfortable for having sex. Jane also reveals what a savvy gal does after quitting her job because her boss is such a pain in the butt: "I celebrated with a margarita and a Brazilian wax."
The November issue is a typical Jane. There's a fashion spread on "Coats so gorgeous you won't ever take them off. Might as well save on laundry and wear nothing underneath." There's a short article called "Crying Is the New Croquet," which begins like this: "Right now, everyone just wants to bawl like babies. It feels so good. Maybe it has to do with the supposed death of irony that never happened."
There's also a story on the alleged trend toward guys suddenly wanting babies. "Patrick, 29," explains why he wants a baby: "I'm sick of looking for parking spaces. Usually when you have kids, you move to the suburbs and you have a driveway. I could park my car there."
Mitzi Miller, author of Jane's "Sex, Sex, Sex" column, wrote a piece called "How to Date Eight Guys at Once," which reveals this bit of useful info: "If your friends call somebody an 'undiscovered treasure of a man' . . . that's really code for sloppy drunk."
And the monthly "It Happened to Me" column is a first-person account of the horrors of dating a Libertarian who believes in waiting until marriage to have sex. The author, a liberal identified only as "Maya, 29," reveals this: "I once had a brief affair with someone who has flown in Air Force One with Dubya. And when we talked politics, it always degenerated into a pretty amazing sexual romp."
Come to think of it, almost everything in Jane usually degenerates into a pretty amazing sexual romp. And if it doesn't, there are eight tips guaranteed to help you pick up guys, including these two: "Announce your availability by wearing 'Dude, ask me out' printed on a T-shirt" and "Eat popsicles and lollipops. Constantly."
If you try all eight tips and you don't pick up at least eight guys, Jane will refund the price of the magazine, which is $3.50. What other mag is confident enough to make such a generous offer?
Perhaps the most amazing and amusing thing about Jane is its cover lines, so shamelessly misleading that they're hilarious.
"Brad & Jen, Renee, Mary-Kate, Ben, Beyonce: Gossip No One Else Will Print," proclaims a November cover line. It turns out to refer to a story that reveals where those stars buy their coffee.
"The smokin' body flaw that will get you great sex," said a cover line last fall. It was touting a one-paragraph ode to the alleged sexiness of a little roll of fat hanging over a gal's jeans.
"Yet another great reason to keep on smoking!" yelled a cover line in August. It referred to a one-paragraph item about how some people get acne when they stop smoking.
To read Jane is to wonder: Who buys this magazine? What kind of woman reads Jane?
Fortunately, those are questions Jane answers in amazing detail. Jane is constantly polling its readers about themselves, and the results are delightfully bizarre:
"One-third of you guys have created a sex toy from something lying around the house," Jane reported in the November issue.
"In 1999, Jane's sex poll revealed that 34 percent of you readers cheat" on boyfriends or husbands, Jane reported in October. "By this year, that number had risen to 53 percent. Atta-girl. No, wait -- bad, bad!"
Last April, Jane published the results of a survey asking readers about their bodies. The results were surprisingly unsurprising:
"What is your main recurring health problem?" the magazine asked. The most common answer was "hangovers."
"What medications do you take?" Jane asked. The most common answer was "birth control."
"What vice can you not give up?" Jane asked. Alcohol, said 34 percent of readers. Cigarettes, said 22 percent. Pot, said 13 percent. "Other," said 31 percent.
"Other" no doubt covers a multitude of sins. But a reader identified as "Kira-Lynn, 19" identified her vice: "Jane magazine."
It's a vice that causes mindless giggling, as well as occasional spells of nausea, and it probably kills brain cells, too. But it is surprisingly addictive.