Once ignored by the mainstream media, Hispanic Americans are finally getting serious ink. Two national magazines tailored especially for Hispanics have just been launched, and another three are in the works.
Si, out of Los Angeles, hit newsstands this week. Latina Style, out of Washington, emerged in May.
Soon they will be joined by Moderna, backed by Hispanic magazine and due out in December; and Latina, backed by Essence and due out next spring. People magazine has an entry on the drawing board; it plans to test the waters sometime next year with a one-time special issue.
All will feature Hispanic leaders and celebrities, address Hispanic concerns and give a Hispanic twist to beauty, health, fashion, food and art. About 27 million Hispanics live in the United States, with an estimated spending power of $180 billion.
While Si is a general-interest magazine for both men and women, Moderna, Latina and Latina Style are specifically for women.
As Hispanic women become more of a force in the U.S. economy and take more control over discretionary spending in their households, more advertisers are appealing to them.
"You look at women's magazines out there and you find very little about Latinas," says Alfredo Estrada, editor and publisher of Hispanic magazine. "Hispanic women consume 15 percent of health and beauty products, but major cosmetics companies have yet to really engage the market."
Says Tere Zubizarreta, president of Zubi Advertising in Miami, which focuses on the Hispanic market: "In an era where the economy is on the floor and everybody's downsizing, all of a sudden you find this pristine cascade of new people. You never talked to them before, but you try and they buy you, so you start paying attention."
Perhaps nothing proved the strength of the Hispanic market better than the death of Mexican-American pop star Selena.
After she was shot, People magazine put her on the cover in seven states surrounding her home state of Texas. Nearly 400,000 copies sold. That was followed with a tribute issue, which sold nearly a million copies. It was People's third tribute. The other two were tributes to Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
"This situation, as unfortunate as it was, was a real wake-up call," says Susan Ollinick, spokeswoman for People. "This market is out there. This is a serious opportunity."
People had long been studying the possibility of creating a new magazine for Hispanics, but Selena's death kicked it into high gear, Ms. Ollinick said.
Si, Latina Style and People's entry will be in English, drawing on millions of Hispanic Americans who are more comfortable with English than Spanish.
Latina and Moderna, which are being compared to Glamour magazine in content, will be bilingual -- with a smattering of Spanish thrown into English stories, plus some pieces done completely in Spanish.
"I may be bilingual, but I prefer to read in English," says Mexican-American Christy Haubegger, publisher of Latina, based in New York. "The reason I started this magazine is that there wasn't one for somebody like me. Most of the Spanish magazines are about life in Latin America. I didn't find myself in there."
Si -- a $2.95 upscale magazine that has been called a Town & Country or Vanity Fair for Hispanics -- features Cuban-American Daisy Fuentes, MTV VJ and Pantene model, on its premiere cover. She is profiled by Miami Herald columnist Liz Balmaseda, who serves as a contributing editor for the magazine. There also are pieces on Jimmy Smits, Sandra Cisneros, affirmative action and Tejano music.
"In terms of the mix, our challenge is to cover the whole country . . . the whole spectrum of cultures that fall under that rubric of Latino," says Si publication director Joie Davidow.
Latina Style, which costs $2.50, is narrower, with a focus on the accomplishments of Hispanic women. The premiere issue's cover featured U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Nydia Velazquez of New York and Lucille Roybal-Allard of California. The summer issue featured designer Carolina Herrera.
Latina Style's circulation is up to 150,000 with its second issue.