Gay Atlanta magazine Fenuxe denies allegations of inflating circulation numbers

Fenuxe magazine denies allegations it inflated circulation numbers to advertisers as alleged in a lawsuit filed by one of its larger advertisers, Pride Medical, and seeks to have the case dismissed, according to court documents filed in DeKalb Superior Court.

And in a counterclaim lawsuit, Fenuxe’s owner Tyler Calkins goes after Lee Anisman, 52, CEO of Pride Medical, alleging Anisman pursued a romantic relationship with Calkins, 27. The counterclaim lawsuit further alleges Anisman became angry when Calkins rebuffed his sexual advances and states Anisman also blackmailed Calkins, threatening to “destroy” him.

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Allegations of inflated circulation numbers 

Pride Medical sued Atlanta-based Fenuxe and its parent company TW Media Group last month stating the magazine’s representation that it printed and distributed 25,000 copies every two weeks was false. According to the Pride Medical lawsuit, the company spent nearly $73,000 with the magazine since 2010.

“Upon information and belief, Plaintiff avers that Defendant’s distribution levels are not now, and, at least since these parties’ Contract was signed have not been, as were represented to Plaintiff and to Defendant’s other clients and customers,” according to the lawsuit filed against Fenuxe by Pride Medical, as first reported by Project Q Atlanta. 

The Pride Medical lawsuit also claims Fenuxe did not follow through with its advertising contract with the medical company and demands Fenuxe turn over its circulation records.

Fenuxe’s official response dated Dec. 9 states, “At no time did TW Media’s [Fenuxe] contract with Pride Medical contain any representation or dependency on circulation of the magazine” and also that “From its inception through late-2013, Pride Medical repeatedly expressed its satisfaction with the advertisements in Fenuxe Magazine. Indeed, Pride Medical often disclosed the number of HIV patients referred from Fenuxe (and often including those patient names).”

Fenuxe’s response further states that Pride Medical provided camera-ready ads to the magazine from the beginning of its contract on April 27, 2010, just days after the magazine launched. When Pride Medical ceased offering massage services in September 2010, it pulled one half-page advertisement from Fenuxe Magazine” adding that, “Though space was reserved for Pride Medical, it never provided replacement ad copy for the one-half page.”

Counterclaim lawsuit filed against Pride Medical CEO 

Calkins, editor and owner of Fenuxe, states in his counterclaim lawsuit against Pride Medical CEO Lee Anisman that Anisman pursued him romantically and after being rejected by Calkins, Anisman began a “campaign to destroy” Calkins, including trying to get Calkins to resign from the magazine.

This alleged campaign to destroy Calkins as cited in the counterclaim included Anisman calling Fenuxe advertisers to “spread false statements about contract prices being dependent on circulation” and that Anisman said he would pay advertisers’ legal fees if they would also sue Fenuxe.

According to the counterclaim, Anisman also contacted former Fenuxe employees “with the intent to manipulate them into giving him confidential information in violation of their signed confidentiality agreements.”

“Anisman contacted former Fenuxe Magazine employees and encouraged them to notify the Internal Revenue Service and tell them had had [sic] been misclassified as independent contractors when they had, in his opinion, been employees of Fenuxe,” the counterclaim adds.

According to the counterclaim, Anisman invited Calkins to his second home in New York City on Dec. 26, 2012, and Calkins accepted but “Calkins was still under the impression that it was for the purpose of maintaining a business relationship with a loyal customer,” the counterclaim states. The counterclaim also states Calkins stayed in the guest bedroom.

In the counterclaim, Calkins also states he became a patient at Pride Medical as part of rewarding a loyal client to the magazine and that Anisman became involved in Calkins’ care, giving him access to his personal and medical history “which he would use later to blackmail Calkins.”

The counterclaim also states Anisman has a “long fascination with gay media” and that he, Calkins and TW Media entered into an agreement to purchase an Atlanta publication and the two men co-signed for two loans. The deal later fell through, however, and Anisman began “pursuing competitive ventures,” the counterclaim alleges.

The counterclaim goes on to outline allegations of Anisman’s “aggressive assaults” on Calkins, stating that “as Calkins and Anisman continued to develop their business and professional relationship, Anisman also “ratcheted up his assault on Calkins.”

For example, during a trip to Florida for an HIV conference and so that Calkins could look at his mother’s newly purchased hearing aids, “Anisman attempted to grope Calkins,” the counterclaim alleges. When Calkins said he did not want a relationship like “that,” Anisman left and got drunk, states the counterclaim.

“Throughout their relationship, Anisman threatened Calkins that if Calkins would not submit, Pride Medical would stop advertising with Fenuxe Magazine,” the counterclaim states, adding that Anisman “threatened to rape Calkins against his will.”

Calkins further claims in his counterclaim that Anisman demanded Calkins resign from Fenuxe and allow him to purchase his ownership interest for $30,000 or “Anisman would ‘destroy’ Calkins.”

Pride Medical denies Fenuxe allegations

J. Patrick McCrary, attorney for Pride Medical Inc., issued this response to the Fenuxe’s allegation and decried the magazine and its owner for making the lawsuit a “personal matter”:

On behalf of Pride Medical, Inc. is that we adamantly dispute the allegations contained in the Answer and Counterclaim, both as to Pride Medical, Inc. and as to Dr. Anisman personally.

Again, this is a lawsuit by Pride Medical, Inc. trying to obtain an accounting with regard to advertising services which it purchased from Fenuxe. It continues to be my client’s belief that the magazine printed and distributed considerably fewer magazines that it variously represented to its clients; and that Pride Medical’s account should be adjusted accordingly. We requested documentation of the actual distribution rates. To date, Fenuxe has not provided such documentation. We had no choice but to file suit in order to obtain such documentation.

It is unfortunate that Fenuxe and its owner have chosen to turn a simple matter of business litigation into such a personal matter. We will resist inclusion of such personal issues and/or Dr. Anisman in this litigation.

Beyond that, I cannot comment further at this time, except to say: If Fenuxe did print and distribute the number of magazines which it represented to its clients, why won’t it simply document that fact? If it had, this suit might have been avoided.

Todd Poole, attorney for TW Media and Tyler Calkins, declined comment on behalf of Calkins.