What’s in a name? More than you think.


The Horse and Iron Horse are synonymous with each other, to the point where most readers just refer to us as Iron Horse. Well, right now it doesn’t matter, not that it ever did.

Iron Horse magazine was founded by Lou Kimzey in 1978 under Paisano Publications, which most of you know as Easyriders. The idea was to use Iron Horse as a test bed expanding coverage to bikes otherwise not printed in Easyriders. The problem was no one took Iron Horse seriously and it showed. Lackluster sales and with no clear direction, the trademark was eventually sold to J.Q. Adams in about ‘84. Around 96’ J.Q. Adams sold Iron Horse trademark to Princeton Publishing. Then when Princeton went under, Murray Traub, who was a publisher and printer known for “sophisticated” magazines, meaning skin magazines, purchased the Iron Horse trademark.

Until David Snow became editor in the 90’s, Iron Horse was just an Outlaw Biker style magazine. Then Snow turned it into serious magazine with a cult-like following. The readership numbers were not impressive, but the core followers were intensely loyal, gaining the attention of Malcolm Forbes (being a Harley enthusiast) who asked Snow to ride with him on one of his rides. Snow showed his thanks by presenting him with an original drawing, although I don’t recall if it was of Malcolm or what exactly. Anyway, the red-haired step child, Iron Horse, was all of a sudden gaining a great deal of respect.

The Princeton office was chaotic at best. Magazines littered the floor, wooden desks were carved up with peoples initials and 38 out of approximately 40 publications were sophisticated, with a knitting magazine and Iron Horse being the only exceptions. The director, I’ve been told, a drunken Irishman, who was out on a drunken lunch more often than not. Snow once wrote, “The working environment was nutty, like something out of a 1940s newspaper- bullpen click— clattering typewriters, clouds of cigarette smoke, stale beers and coffee, and a daily parade of wacky industry characters affiliated with Murray’s diverse cheapass publishing empire of exploitation mags— gay and straight porno, bodybuilding, martial arts, rock’n’roll.”

The director did not like Snow’s right hand man, Fritz, which caused friction. Snow had the magazines delivered to the floor below, the fourth as I recall, so the director couldn’t see how Snow mocked him in almost every issue. Eventually Snow left in about 1997 along with Fritz.

Wendy, the lady who worked under the Drunk, was responsible for hiring a replacement editor and rehired Chris Pfouts who had worked with Snow on Iron Horse towards the beginning of his tenure. You may recall his moniker, Top Hat, in older issues of the magazine. Anyway, with Snow’s departure the readership wasn’t too accepting of Pfouts, even though he was a bona fide biker with talent and experience. The problem was he didn’t fit in with the in-your- face, socratic journalism Snow had lured his readership on. They wanted Snow and Pouts was no Snow.

Hammer eventually wrote a scathing letter to Wendy telling her how Princeton had ruined the magazine by firing Snow. She retorted back saying he quit, he wasn’t fired and so on. She asked if he could do better and he said anyone could do better so she flew him into New York for an interview and offered him the job. Now, mind you, Hammer readily admits he was no Snow, but his loyalty to the Snow era Iron Horse ensured he would at least try to continue the legacy created by Snow. So Hammer produced several issues of Iron Horse before the Irish drunk called and told him it’s over, the owners of Princeton took whatever money was remaining and left town, leaving all 40 titles in dismay. During this time Murray had passed away and his daughter Susan Traub secured the trademark to Iron Horse. This is all cloudy because looking on the trademark website, no one had the rights for a few years.

After a month or two of Princeton fleeing with the loot, Hammer and the drunken Irishman decided to launch their own magazine called The Horse Backstreet Choppers because Susan would not give up her rights to Iron Horse. And maybe because at that time it the trademark wasn’t registered to Murray T. But since everyone referred to Iron Horse as The Horse, it made sense at that time.

Susan tried to revive Iron Horse a few years later hiring Snow and Fritz to put it together but that failed miserably. According to Susan, Snow never picked up the cell phone she bought for him for business, he was always late and had zero interest in its resurrection. I’m sure Snow has another side of the story, but I have no idea what it is. Eventually Susan hired Todd Ingram to put the magazine together. Sales were so and poor her direction to Todd was so bizarre that the magazine looked more like a crackhead writing a thesis on sober living.

So once again, Iron Horse went in hiatus. Hammer had tried on several occasions to buy the title from Susan but she wanted $90,000. He offered her $2,000 as a token of generosity but she declined. I offered to buy it from her a few years ago but she once again declined. But time has a way of making things resolve themselves.

In this case, it did.

Susan and her expensive lawyers let the trademark lapse and as soon as it became available, I grabbed it. So as it stands now, I own Iron Horse, Another addition to my family of trademarks.

Iron Horse is now under The Horse and I own all rights to the name. So now what do I do? Do I change the name The Horse to Iron Horse? I think probably not since it has taken Hammer 20 years to build The Horse plus it has already established a good foothold and is more recognizable than Iron Horse was for it’s 40 years. So… Do I start a new publication as Iron Horse? Do I do maybe a few special issues to see the reaction? We’ve already started selling Iron Horse t-shirts and will start with other merchandise.

Well fellow horsemen and ladies, what do you think? Iron Horse is where is belongs, where it has always been, and the legacy will live on. 40 year family reunion!

People: Mz. Debo

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