It's Like, Hello!

By Ariel Leve.

How did it happen? Hello! has become the gay man's New Yorker. The British magazine, squeezed full of celebrities no one in America has ever heard of, sells 15,000 copies in the US every week. Maybe it started on Sex and the City. In one episode, Sarah Jessica Parker was spotted reading Hello! and instantly the magazine became the gay man's must-read. In Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, it's everywhere you look: Hello! Hello! Hello!

Recently, my best friend was invited to a high-profile birthday party for her friend, Dan. Dan and his friends are the toast of New York - all have glamorous jobs in film, TV and theatre. Every year, my friend panics about what to get the man who has everything. The latest Prada; he's got it. Kylie CD; got it. So this year she decided to be creative and make him a present - a copy of Hello!.

With the help of a gay colleague who had Photoshop on his computer, she planned to superimpose photos of Dan on the cover, next to Duncan James from Blue. When the colleague learned the project would include Hello!, it became as important to him as his university degree. By the end of the day she had a mock up of a cover, complete with photos and captions: "Dan's birthday bash: hot pics inside."

She walked into the party and saw all the heavy hitters. These are people who continually forget that they've met her before and always mispronounce her name, Liza. Only the same name as the patron saint of gay icons. Yet for some reason, the gay crowd she hangs out with can never get it right. They call her Lisa. They call her Laura. "Unless you have a penis," she says, "or a tan, or better yet, a tan penis, you're dead to these people."

But knowing she had the Hello! gift, she waited for her moment to strike. After Dan opened his DVD of Naked Men Doing Yoga and the satin Madonna underpants, she pulled the magazine out from her bag. You would have thought she pulled out Madonna herself. Suddenly the entire table was transfixed and the magazine was being passed around. Next thing she knew, Bob, the biggest of the high-powered gays, turned to her and yelled: "LIZA, did you do this?"

"I couldn't believe it," she recalls. "I sat motionless. I thought this must be what Cher feels like after an encore of If I Could Turn Back Time." Thanks to Hello!, Liza finally got some gay street cred.