MAIN SQUEEZE: Who says you can't judge a magazine by its cover? When we saw Vol. 3 of au Juice there on the rack, with its seductive Nagelesque cover art, we sensed good things were in store. We had to know more about this new gem touting itself as the "journal of eatin', drinkin' and screwin' around."

After leafing through glossy pages with gushing letters from happy readers, the inside scoop on your favorite consumer products (like Double Stout, a joint venture by Redhook Ale and Starbucks, bottling dark-roasted malt beer mixed with coffee), steamy short fiction, and hedonistic articles on the gender of food, arcane aphrodisiacs and the creamy world of fondue, we were compelled to call editor, art director and publisher Fred Dodsworth in his Berkeley, California, office. This is what he had to say:

What's in a name? The original name, Barley Juice, was shortened to Juice to avoid a lawsuit with another beer mag. This only complicated the situation, as O.J. apparently has a trademark in process for a Juice magazine. "This nasty little creep in North Carolina also has a magazine called Juice, so I said 'Fuck you all, I'll call it au Juice!,' which is basically the same but has a few different meanings, like au jus, or Gold Juice. Like everything else in the magazine, it's an inside joke."

Dodsworth, an ebullient fellow exhibiting the eager-but-harried tone of a man who spends all day alone in the office answering the telephone and coming up with new ideas for a truly bizarre magazine, unnecessarily explains: "I do this by myself. (Another phone rings, and Dodsworth becomes giddy with excitement.) This might be an advertiser...can you hold? I'll get right back to you."

The fledgling magazine, which he calls "sort of a quarterly" with Vol. 3 on the stands and Vol. 4 in the works for March, responds to a niche Dodsworth saw in the market. "I looked out there and all the food magazines were dull and boring...for middle-aged housewives who don't actually cook. To more fun, that's what I dedicate au Juice to. Eat dessert first and try to avoid over-exposure to noxious things."

In short, au Juice is intelligent and fun. Especially charming is its subversive aim to include an article on "something illegal" in every issue; this one features absinthe. Newsstand price is $4.95, subscriptions $24 for six issues. For information, call 1-510-548-0697. TW

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