Ms. Generation Mex:

Yvette Doss, a self-described ‘Mexican-American half-breed and
twentysomething,’ is on the phone with Time magazine in her
crowded San Francisco apartment, trying to persuade them to do a
story on her magazine. ‘There is a Latino publishing revolution
going on,’ she says. ‘That would be your national angle.’

Click. The conversation ends like so many others she has had
with members of the publishing world’s inner circle: in defeat.
Ever since this 26-year-old daughter of a Mexican immigrant and a
white military man from Virginia began publishing frontera
magazine in December last year, she has found the invisibility of
young Latinos like herself both frustrating and galvanizing. Her
splashy quarterly journal for English-speaking
Latinos–particularly Mexican-Americans–captures the vibrancy of
millions of young people who haven’t been able to find a reflection
of their lives in any of the mainstream media.

Caught between two worlds, this ‘refried nation’ (as the
magazine refers to its readers) is as fond of punk and apple pie as
it is of Mexican quebradita music and south-of-the-border sweets
like pan dulce. Doss’ magazine, which already has a circulation of
almost 20,000, is in an excellent position to ride the wave of
opportunity expected to hit in the next decade as Hispanics surpass
blacks as the nation’s largest minority.

‘I feel like we’re chronicling a generation from the trenches,’
she says. ‘Twenty years from now, I’m going to look back and say,
`Wow, I was part of that change.’ But for now, we don’t register on
the mainstream radar. We’re not even a blip.’ The name frontera,
which Doss thought up in the shower, reflects the pending change:
It’s Spanish for frontier, but it can also be read as two English
words: front era.

Doss, a philosophy and creative writing graduate of the
University of California at Berkeley, never intended to enter the
fiercely competitive magazine world. ‘I wanted to write books about
the big questions in life,’ she says, tugging at her short
pigtails, ‘but I also wanted to write the great American novel.’
When she soon learned that neither would pay the bills, she
enrolled in the graduate journalism school at Berkeley. There, she
took a class in magazine publishing from New York founder Clay
Felker and was inspired to launch frontera.

Frontera which Doss and co-publisher Martin Albornoz
financed from personal savings and loans from friends and family,
isn’t the only U.S. magazine aimed at the emerging Latino media
market, just the least circumspect. It’s miles away from
‘mainstream’ magazines such as Hispanic and Latin
. Doss’ readers wear nipple rings, dress funky, speak
Spanglish, and are open-minded about sexuality. They are enchulosos
(hot and spicy Latinos) such as Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist
Dave Navarro, who appears on the Summer 1996 frontera cover
bare-chested and preparing to gorge on a juicy watermelon

Doss is back on the phone, sitting on a couch made from salvaged
metal plates next to a lamp made from trashed heating vents. She
shares the apartment in a depressed area of San Francisco with
Albornoz and Cisco, their overweight Dalmatian. Being on the
publishing frontier has, so far, meant working 14-hour days and
living on a bare-bones budget until the magazine catches on.

But that doesn’t faze Doss. She has more important things on her
mind. Her goal, she says, is to ungag her generation, and to try to
rectify the raw deal she believes it has been handed by a
closed-minded society. ‘We’re pushing the boundaries of what it
means to be American,’ she says. ‘You can tell America to accept
us, or you can change the culture through Latino music and art and
popular expression. That way we are America.

$12 for 6 issues Send to: FRONTERA

PO BOX 30529 Los Angeles CA 90030

or send an e-mail order at

For subscriptions only: 1-888-FRNTRAX

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