We start what promises to be a busy month of welcoming publications to the MagSampler.com newsstand―they’re backed up like planes on a foggy night at LaGuardia Airport―with Woman International, a new glossy magazine from the San Francisco area. Its target audience: American women of Asian background, from East Asia through the Indian subcontinent. We’ve received a supply of Woman International’s second issue, and it’s got all the elements of a traditional women’s magazine: celebrity profiles, recipes, spreads on jewelry, a horoscope, medical questions answered by a physician and advice on relationships, many with a decidedly Asian orientation.
One profile is of Kalpana Chawla, born in northern India and Punjab Engineering College’s first women aeronautical engineer when she graduated in 1982. She came to the United States for postgraduate studies, married and earned a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering. The story has an unhappy ending: Kalpana became a NASA astronaut and perished in the Columbia space shuttle disaster in 2003. Other profiles include actress Minae Noja, featured in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha (and on the cover of this issue) and Carrie Ann Inaba, of Japanese, Chinese and Irish descent, who is one of the judges on the television series Dancing With the Stars. You’ll find a two-page spread on Indian appetizer recipes, including tofu kabobs and an Indian variant of hummus. There’s a short article about Twelve Girls Band, the interesting Chinese all-girl musical group from Beijing that plays pop Western music on traditional Chinese stringed instruments. For some reason their music is called “folk-techno fusion” and, to add to the oddity, there are 13 young ladies in the group (apparently 12 is a lucky number in the People’s Republic, but the article doesn’t discuss how the Chinese feel about 13).
Women International has its editorial faults: the layouts can be confusing, and there are a number of painful typos—Dean Martin never appeared with “Gerry Lewis”; a women complaining to the relationship guru that she lusts after her guy’s best friend is inexplicably offered advice on various ways to deal with the death of a loved one. Hopefully these are just the usual teething pains of a new publication.