It’s official: Peach ATL Media, LLC, Goliath Media LLC and Fenuxe magazine are all owned by the same person.
Brian Sawyer, who became listed as the registered agent for the former two earlier this summer, confirmed to Georgia Voice staff last week that he owned all three publications. Fenuxe appears to be a relatively new acquisition: articles of incorporation were filed with the Secretary of State’s office on Sept. 14, with the new company name Fenuxe Magazine Manegement, [sic] LLC.
Fenuxe was previously published by TW Media Group, which was administratively dissolved on Dec. 7, 2016, according to the Secretary of State’s office, though the magazine has been continuously publishing since. Tyler Calkins, owner of TW Media Group, was the publisher/editor-in-chief of Fenuxe, at least as of the Sept. 8 issue.
Sawyer also is the organizer and authorizer for BMSMedia, LLC, which was formed in July and is listed on the Fenuxe website as the design company for the publication.
The new ownership changes came along with most of the staff leaving Peach ATL and Goliath: Most recently, Russ Youngblood, who served a sales role, left that position and now works with Project Q Atlanta, along with former Peach ATL and Goliath Editorial Director Mike Fleming. Fleming co-founded Project Q, and was editorial director of Peach ATL and Goliath until Sept. 8. His departure follows that of William Duffee-Braun, who was publisher and registered agent of the two magazines until Sawyer took over. Art Director Tanner Gill is gone as well.
Allegations fly in David Magazine lawsuit
Georgia Voice previously reported on a lawsuit involving Sawyer and David Thompson, the owner of the late David Magazine, of which Peach ATL was a rebrand. It is unclear how much, if any, effect the suit had on the change in ownership, as requests for interviews have not been returned as of press time.
Sawyer, joined by fellow plaintiffs Charles “Chip” O’Kelley and Martin Marshall — known in the gay publishing world as Matt Neumann — sued Thompson in May 2014. According to the complaint, Thompson seized the assets of David Magazine and transferred them to DRT Media, of which he was the sole owner. The plaintiffs claim Thompson “breached several agreements and transferred assets to avoid fiduciary duties” to them.
The case is ongoing, and most recently Thompson was cited by the court for failing to produce documents regarding those assets, and involvement by the plaintiffs. That led to a court-appointed receiver going out to find what was desired. His report, issued in late August, showed less than $10,000 in now-frozen bank accounts for DRT Media, archived records from David and other publications, computer hardware and web domains as assets of Thompson’s company.
That report also noted billable hours for “receipt and review of Agreement between Sawyer et al and Peach ATL Media LLC.” Attempts to learn what that agreement entailed were unsuccessful as of press time.
The day it all began
To get to what led to the lawsuit, we must go back years earlier, to Feb. 8, 2010, when Gaydar Magazine, Inc. was incorporated. A man named Luis Francisco Lopez Rodriquez, also referred to as Luis Lopez, purchased 50 percent of the assets of Gaydar from Grady Odom. Odom, at the same time, transferred his remaining 50 percent to Marshall/Neumann. Shortly thereafter, Sawyer got involved as a part owner. According to court documents, Thompson was aware of the ownership transfers.
Gaydar famously outbid the former Southern Voice staff about a month later for the ownership of their former publication, which shuttered in Nov. 2009 after its parent company filed for bankruptcy. In that transaction, Gaydar also purchased the assets of David Magazine. This put Rodriguez/Lopez, Marshall/Neumann and Sawyer in charge of Gaydar, David and Southern Voice by March 2010. At the time, there was a lawsuit involving David Magazine and its printer.
DRT Media was formed in direct result of the lawsuits against David Magazine. When asked in his deposition what the purpose was for forming the company, Thompson responded, “Because David Magazine, Incorporated was damaged … from multiple lawsuits and bad credit. I mean, derogatory credit.”
Sawyer and his plaintiffs allege that Thompson, aware of that lawsuit, then began conniving his way to owning the magazine. He “fraudulently induced Marshall to sell his shares,” claiming “there were insufficient funds to satisfy the settlement amount due.” However, court documents claim that both David Magazine and Sawyer had enough money to cover that settlement.
“Thompson … deceived Marshall about the available funds and threatened that David Magazine, Inc., would lose David Magazine if Marshall did not transfer his ownership to Thompson in exchange for paying the settlement amount to the plaintiff in the printer litigation,” court documents state.
Marshall/Neumann then created a stock purchase agreement to transfer 100 percent of the David shares to Thompson for $100, which he claims he never received. He was also only a partial shareholder in David Magazine — leading the plaintiffs to charge that the ownership transfer never happened. They further allege that Thompson misled Sawyer into then selling his 25 percent stake for $2,000.
Sawyer also created a severance agreement for David and Southern Voice, requesting payment of $4,546.32. Thompson paid $757.72, then “opposed Sawyer’s claim for unemployment insurance benefits by falsely stating that Sawyer was terminated for misconduct.”
While all this was happening, Chip O’Kelley, another plaintiff in the Sawyer suit, was David Magazine’s chief operating officer. Thompson, according to court documents, entered into an agreement with him for 25 percent ownership in the magazine, “continuing his role … managing the day-to-day operations of David Magazine, including finances, printing, human resources and all management tasks.”
The lawsuit then alleges that because Thompson only paid for (and therefore owned) the 25 percent formerly belonging to Sawyer, and then transferred that 25 percent to O’Kelley, he no longer owned any part of David Magazine — but “converted … and transferred it to DRT Media.”
DRT Media started publishing David Magazine with some slight rebrands, “without the authority of the shareholders,” the lawsuit claims.
Will the real owner please stand up?
Sawyer, O’Kelley, Rodriguez/Lopez and Marshall/Neumann wanted the court to find that they were the rightful owners of Gaydar, Southern Voice and David, and they wanted to recoup both attorneys’ fees and the money they claimed to be owed, at least in the cases of Sawyer and O’Kelley. They also wanted it to be noted that David Magazine should have never changed hands to DRT Media in the first place. Thompson denied the claims, saying in a counter claims document that “plaintiffs are not entitled to punitive damages,” and that their “rambling facts are so vague, ambiguous, nonspecific and lacking in detail that Defendant cannot reasonably be required to frame a proper responsive pleading.”
In one paragraph, Thompson also says “O’Kelley currently disseminates information on the Internet to this day that he is COO of David Magazine which is a fabrication.”
Sawyer and O’Kelley were previously owners of Atlanta Pearl Day Committee, which hosted a nonprofit benefit at Six Flags Over Georgia, but allegedly never handed over the donations, according to Project Q. Pearl Day was created in 2007 and administratively resolved in 2011.