Having just rinsed off the suds of a wildly enjoyable bath-themed party, Leonard Koren sat in his tub, thinking. His wild artist friends had come in towels, as the invitation had requested, and not long after arrival,were running around completely nude. Meanwhile, his art collector friends had turned up to hang out with the artists and stood around in suits and ties. He marveled at the twist on social interaction at the party—wet ‘n’ wild vs. prim and proper. Everyone had a ball. It was an unmitigated success. And thus, thought Koren, will be the event that begets Wet Magazine, “the magazine of gourmet bathing.” Little did Koren know that Wet Magazine, the culmination of a long-standing interest in the art of cleansing, would reach eyes outside of his Venice home, let alone become an internationally distributed arts and culture publication that ran for 34 issues over five years in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. It became home to early cartoons of Matt Groening and photographs from a then up-andcoming Matthew Rolston. “The first issue,” Koren says from his home north of San Francisco, where he authors modest design books, “I rode around on my bicycle giving them away free to people.” He must have gotten them in the right hands, because soon hip bookstores were making orders. “I’d get a call from some store in New York that said, ‘We’d like to carry your magazine,’” he recollects. Yet never once did the magazine stray from its original intention of being a clever, hilarious, and brash (not unlike Flaunt, n’est-ce pas?) journal about bathing. For the Greeks and Romans, baths were a way of life (and of sexual dalliance). For the Japanese, the hot springs are ingrained in the culture as a way to let off steam. For Koren, who attended the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design, baths represented a “sensual experience in small, intimate environments. In architecture school, most of my friends were interested in monumental, grand architecture. I went the other way. And I found some amazing thing in L.A.” Riding his bike one day he stumbled upon a friendly commodities trader watering his lawn outside his deco house. “I asked him, ‘Do you have an interesting bathroom? He said, ‘Oh! You wouldn’t believe my bathroom. Inside, the bathroom was “like Mayan alters with beautiful tile.” On the other side of the coin, his artist friends in Venice would convert the grease pits in their gondola garages into soaking trenches. “[One artist] planted banana trees and ferns and put in these two huge showerheads 15 feet above. He’d invite people over, two or three people, usually girls, to party in his bathtub.” Following graduation, Koren progressed to artworks—a fold-out book called 17 Beautiful Men Taking a Shower and a silkscreen print of “23 Beautiful Women Taking a Bath”—which met with his famous bath parties that he held all over the city. Wet Magazine, crazy as it sounds, was inevitable. And then came Groening and Rolston. They were breaking new talent and fostering careers. “Once, a photographer brought us all these pictures of this young actor he had photographed,” says Koren. “It was Richard Gere.” From its humble beginnings as a six-page newsprint giveaway, Wet expanded into a fullfledged lifestyle magazine, with worldwide distribution, and private investment. It was punk and graphic and irreverent. There were reviews on tubs, photo essays on mud bathing, ads for bath and kitchen accessories. And it was, like Flaunt, a sort of last bastion of magazines that cared about humor and style, with an acuity for items uniquely L.A. “There was a kind of awe and jealousy of Los Angeles back then,” says Koren. Some things never change.