On Friday, Soldier of Fortune, ostensibly a trade magazine for mercenaries that was actually this country’s strangest male fantasy rag, announced that it would be ending its print edition in April, after more than 40 years. The reasons for its demise are both familiar and specific. Soldier of Fortune’s identity is tied to its origins as a magazine for Vietnam vets—think of it as Rambo without the nuance—and changing demographics appear to have helped do it in. The Wall Street Journal reports that “aging readership” and “changes to the business of freelance warfare” had “taken their toll on circulation and the number of ad pages.”
But Soldier of Fortune was not just a magazine for soldiers of fortune. While some real-life mercenaries undoubtedly made up its subscriber base, it mostly offered a fantasy of hyper-violent male empowerment, while also catering to those on the fringes of Second Amendment advocacy and anti-communism (again, Rambo minus nuance). Its classified section, where people would advertise to be hired as mercenaries, was the stuff of legend. At once silly and terrifying, its ads were often too ridiculous to be believed, even though they were undoubtedly conceived in earnest.
And then there was the cover. While it mostly followed a pretty boring formula (man in fatigues holding big gun), it had moments of homoerotic brilliance, like this:
Soldier of Fortune was never the magazine America needed, but it was always the one it deserved.