Psssst! Wanna Trap a Real Guy? Go Way Up North, Young Woman, Via Susie Carter's Alaska Men Magazine
08/22/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT
Somewhere in Alaska, a tough-but-sensitive guy sits by a dying campfire, staring pensively into the flames. The full moon is casting stark shadows, and the Arctic wind is moaning down from far-off frozen mountains. In the distance, a timber wolf is howling. The man shivers and pulls his blanket closer around his shoulders. Fact is, at times like these, even an outdoorsy, macho kind of guy can get lonesome and start to wonder if there's more to life than logrolling, canned food and arm-wrestling grizzlies. Maybe it's time for a change. Time to mush on down to town. Buy some roll-on deodorant. Find, maybe, a good woman.
Trouble is, in the great expanse of Alaska, the odds of finding a good woman (or any other kind, for that matter) are not good: There are about eight eligible men for every eligible woman in the state. Now, however, there is hope for that special guy looking for that special gal. There is Alaska Men, a slick quarterly composed entirely of 50 or so photographs, biographical sketches and addresses of, well, Alaska men. Founded in Anchorage a year ago by Susie Carter, Alaska Men is already selling 15,000 copies per issue (13,000 of them out of state) at $5.25 each.
Most of the men in Alaska Men, who range in age from 18 to 85, are brought to Carter's attention by concerned mothers and sisters. "The first thing the guys usually ask is, 'Can I wear clothes?' " says Carter, 45, who moved to Alaska from Oregon with her husband, David, a welder, in 1982. "Of course they can. We're not Playgirl." No, indeed. Carter has her standards. "They mainly have to be breathing and off drugs," she says. Carter has had very few refusals. "A couple of the men were married already, and whoever recommended them thought that they weren't, and some others were just scared off by it," she says. "A lot of them are just plain shy."
Photographer Aimee Suzette, one of five staffers, has her own ideas on how to photograph the men. "We try to capture what women outside think the typical Alaska male looks like—you know, rugged, tough, but sensitive. We don't want that buffed, oiled look; we go for a homespun flavor."
One of those homespun guys was Martin Maricle, a 33-year-old forester who lives in Glennallen, an outpost 189 miles from Anchorage. Maricle got his picture in Alaska Men after a friend told Carter about him. "An amazing thing happened," he says. "About the sixth letter I received, which I got on my birthday, was from a woman in Pasadena, Calif., named Gail Bramlett. She just sounded so fascinating—she had been in the Peace Corps for three years and was working on her teaching credential. In my second letter, I came right out and asked her, 'What are your intentions?' She ended up coming to visit me, and we had so much in common that we fell in love. We'll be married on New Year's Eve. The next issue will announce our marriage—and serve formally to take me off the market."
Says Gail, 30: "We hit it off right away. It's definitely been the most romantic thing that's ever happened in my life. It really is a match made in heaven."
For Carter, who grew up as the beach-bunny daughter of artist parents in Laguna Beach, Calif., the idea for Alaska Men came suddenly while she was watching Donahue in 1986. One of Donahue's guests was Tom Williams, an Alaskan mine owner who had achieved brief celebrity by inducing a mail-order bride from the lower 48 states to move in with him. "I saw the response to Alaska men on that show and said to my husband, 'We know all those single guys—wouldn't it be great to help them find girls?' "
Carter, who also runs a day-care center, took about $30,000 from her husband's retirement savings and launched her magazine. "The women went crazy," she says. Soon, Carter was getting as many as 2,000 letters a week from as far away as Guam, Ireland and the West Indies. "We even got one from Antarctica," says Carter. "There are women even there."
And, Carter realizes, there is a whole world of men out there too. "We're hoping to start an Australian Men soon, and then we hope to hit Southern California, the Midwest, and then...who knows?"
Somewhere, right this moment, in the Australian outback, on the beach at Malibu or an assembly line in Detroit, a tough-but-sensitive guy is wondering if it's time for a change.
—By Michael Neill, with Rick Holmstrom in Anchorage