Because true gender parity cannot be achieved until men and women feel equally, cripplingly insecure about their physical faults, men’s magazine Maxim has taken the historic step of putting Idris Elba on its cover. This is nothing new for the hoity-toity likes of GQ or Esquire, which regularly alternate between intimidatingly good-looking men and intimidatingly good-looking women on their covers. But it’s a first for Maxim, the Axe Body Spray of the men’s-magazine world catering to red-blooded males who prefer their editorial meat with a steaming side dish of objectification. (Men have appeared on the cover of Maxim before, but always with the reassuring presence of a half-dressed woman by their side; Elba’s is the first solo male cover.)
Unlike most Maxim models, Elba was not required to show any sideboob in his cover photo. Instead, he appears wrapped in a cozy and doubtless very expensive leopard-print coat, staring directly at the camera as if to say, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” He was, however, required to answer the same old questions about whether he will become the first black actor to play James Bond, because just because Maxim is putting guys on its cover doesn’t make it Interview all of a sudden.
The move is part of a new, classier editorial direction for Maxim; as new editor-in-chief Kate Lanphear tells Racked, “It just makes sense to have a man in fashion on the cover…For me, [Elba] was really the perfect embodiment of what I think the new Maxim man is.” Now to get Elba on the cover of Cosmopolitan.