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THERE is a publication that seems drawn to controversy like June bugs to a porch light on a hot, sticky summer day. Itís not the only one but everything about it is a contradiction in terms. Its circulation numbers (at $6 a pop with every issue nearly sold out in record time and virtually no returns to the printers) is the envy of the publishing world. If Kate Betts and Bonnie Fuller were the recipients of these numbers, they would still have their jobs today. Its target demographic, 18- to 22-year-olds, is amazingly loyal, ensuring continuous profits, even as other apparel retailers announce lowered quarterly sales and earnings warnings.
   I am speaking of Abercrombie & Fitchís A&F Quarterly.
   Itís even popular with other demographic groups. Each issue is readily seen on coffee tables in most gay male households, and all those gay men with that much-discussed disposable income are very much valued by the company. The company is now making steady inroads into the urban market once dominated by Tommy Hilfiger, Phat Farm and others. And they continue to conquer new markets every day.
   So far they havenít made any major mistakes, financially or otherwise, with one exception: whenever thereís a full moon or a slow news cycle, they are in the eye of the storm.

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Above: From the spring 2001 issue—images such as these are claimed to hint at group sex, according to some commentators. Below left: Nudity in the Back to School 2001 issue of the A&F Quarterly. Below right: But can anything really be hinted about two young men in the summer 1999 issue? Some have thought so.

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