Fenuxe Magazine came under new ownership in September, but new litigation alleges that the transfer was a fraudulent business deal.
“It is Pride Medical’s contention that the transfer of assets by TW Media was done solely for the purpose of avoiding subjecting that asset to a judgment that they knew Pride Medical was about to get,” attorney Michael Shane Welsh told Georgia Voice.
Welsh represents Dr. Lee Anisman, retired owner of Pride Medical, Inc., which sued TW Media and Fenuxe Magazine over misleading advertising claims. [Editor’s Note: Lee Anisman is a Georgia Voice shareholder]
“Pride Medical, Inc., did get a judgment on TW Media and Fenuxe Magazine for an advertising fraud claim that we had pursued in DeKalb County Superior Court. We are in the process of collection action responding to that judgment,” Welsh said. “We have also learned that in the 12 months and maybe six months prior to the entry of the default judgment against TW Media and Fenuxe Magazine, the owner of Fenuxe Magazine transferred — or purported to transfer — ownership of the magazine to another entity.”
According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, Fenuxe Magazine Management, LLC was formed on Sept. 14, listing Brian Sawyer as its registered agent. TW Media — the company involved in the Pride Medical lawsuit — was administratively dissolved in December 2016, but Fenuxe Magazine continued to be published under its name.
Sawyer is also the registered agent of Goliath Media LLC and Peach ATL Media LLC, the latter of which is a rebrand of David Magazine that was owned at the time by William Duffey-Braun and Mike Fleming. Fleming, a previous editor of Goliath, David and Peach, also owns Project Q and the newly launched Q Magazine.
“We are also going to be pursuing a judgment individually against Tyler Calkins because we believe as the owner of the company he has personal liability for the judgment of the company,” Welsh said. “We’ll be pursuing it in conjunction with whoever he sold the magazine to because we don’t really believe that he sold it. That is a subject that’s going to be in litigation and the parties against whom we are going to be pursuing this fraudulent transfer case have not been identified officially yet.”
Calkins is still listed on the Fenuxe website as publisher and editor in chief, but on the masthead of the most recent digital issue, Sawyer is listed as publisher and Mikkel Hyldebrandt as editorial director. Hyldebrandt is also editor of Goliath and editorial director of Peach ATL.
A “Jerry Springer”-type situation
The original lawsuit included counterclaims defendant Tyler Calkins brought against plaintiff Lee Anisman and Pride Medical. Those counterclaims, Georgia Voice reported in 2014, included alleging that Anisman threatened to rape Calkins and ruin his business.
In those counterclaims, Calkins stated he became a patient at Pride Medical as part of rewarding a loyal advertiser. He said at one point he, TW Media and Anisman entered into an agreement to purchase Georgia Voice, but that deal later fell through.
As for the claims of rape threats, Anisman filed a motion accusing the defendant of “merely attempting to create a nearly ‘Jerry Springer’-like atmosphere to this litigation, in order to embarrass Plaintiff and its owners, and to conceal and obscure public attention upon the fraud which it and Mr. Calkins apparently perpetrated upon their clients and customers, including Plaintiff.”
Anisman also said in that motion he has evidence of a romantic relationship between he and Calkins, who denies such a bond ever existed.
Welsh said Calkins’ counterclaims were dismissed, so he chose to dismiss the case and re-file it.
“It’s around the time that we re-filed it that Mr. Calkins and TW Media began considering options to get around the lawsuit, and they decided to ignore that lawsuit,” Welsh said. “There was no attorney in the re-filed case. The attorney, Todd Poole, said he was not authorized to accept service and wasn’t representing TW Media at the time I communicated him.”
TW Media never responded to the re-filed suit, which is where the default judgment came from.
Pride Medical alleged that TW Media entered into an advertising contract with them by sharing false information, including the number of issues printed and the number of people seeing each issue. That led to Pride Medical “paying significantly more for advertising revenue than it was getting,” Welsh said.
On Oct. 20, Pride Medical came before the Superior Court of DeKalb County for a final hearing on the suit against TW Media and Fenuxe Magazine. Judge Fatima A. El-Amin ruled that Pride Medical was entitled to damages for breach of contract and attorney fees, totaling $101,391.92.
The next actions will happen in about 90 days, after which Welsh anticipates being in “full collection mode.”
“At this point Pride Medical simply wants to get its money back and it wants to get paid on the judgment it has on these entities,” Welsh said.
“If we can do that without having to file suit for fraudulent conveyance, that’d be fine.”
Calkins and Sawyer were unable to be reached as of press time.
Atlanta, gay and glossy
If the transfer of ownership of Fenuxe Magazine is found by the courts to be fraudulent, it is unclear what the fate of the publication will be. Fenuxe claims a tenure as “your longest published & only source for Edgier [sic] content,” according to an email blast sent around Thanksgiving from the “Atlanta Peach, Goliath, and Fenuxe Magazine Team.”
Atlanta’s LGBT media scene found itself in a tizzy earlier this year when David Atlanta disappeared from newsstands and was replaced by Peach ATL. At the time, David Atlanta and its owner, David Thompson, were embroiled in another separate legal matter with the now-owner of Peach, Goliath and Fenuxe, among several other individuals.
Now, the three are joined by a fourth glossy: gay news website Project Q launched Q Magazine this fall, a nightlife- and features-heavy publication that includes news and columnists.
Q Magazine co-owner Mike Fleming told Georgia Voice that he and co-owner Matt Hennie felt this was the right time to go to print because they wanted to deliver a glossy magazine that took into account the skills and experience of Project Q’s staff. That’s in part where their new podcast component comes in, as Hennie has a voice for radio and enjoys in-person interviews. To expand that into a podcast was a natural thing, Fleming said.
And as a new year approaches, Atlanta’s LGBT media landscape continues to evolve, with signs pointing to more changes to come.