Men’s magazines: lads’ sex mags I In the history of men’s magazines, the launch of Loaded in 1994 is the stuff of legend. It revolutionised magazine publishing in the UK – and the US when Dennis took ‘lads’ mags’ there in the form of Maxim. In between came FHM, which trounced Loaded in the sales stakes in the UK and launched overseas.
Building a new market -Cut and KO! The Gentleman’s Magazine is often considered the first modern magazine. Early evolution Men’s magazines have existed for centuries. In terms of identifying the first one, it depends on how the terms ‘magazine’ and ‘journal’ are defined.
It sought ‘bright articles on current male topics’. The cover was ‘yapped’, meaning it was slightly larger than the inside page size. Pearson was taken over by Newnes, and Men Only, which had become mildly saucy, faded from the mid-1950s, though not before it had taken over rivals such as The Humorist, The Strand and London Opinion. Stefan Lorant, who was later to create Picture Post, at Hulton Press. At sixpence, it was half the price of Men Only. It was intended for a general audience – subtitled ‘The Pocket Magazine for Everyone’ – but became a men’s magazine after the second world war. In the US, Esquire was founded in 1933.
It always stressed its intellectual side, but really established itself in the war years with its pin-up illustrations and calendars by Peruvian-born Alberto Vargas. The first fold-out pin-up appeared in October 1940 and his calendar that year sold 320,000 copies – by 1943 a million calendars had sold. It was his work that inspired aircrews to paint women on the sides of their planes. In 1953, Esquire made its first attempt to launch a British edition, but this folded after six years of trying.
In the mid-1950s, all of the big men’s magazines in the UK were in trouble because of the loss of advertising to television. However, there was a resurgence from the mid-1960s with launches such as King, Penthouse and Club, building on the growth in products aimed at men. Conde Nast launched Men in Vogue in November 1965. Men Only limped on to be taken over by Paul Raymond, who developed a strategy of buying up failed titles such as Razzle. It was launched in 1952 by editor John Taylor. MAT mainly covered fashion but included other areas of lifestyle and became something of a cult publication. In 1965, King from Europress arrived.