Conde Nast’s cruel decision to stop my freebie monthly World of
Interiors without explanation has forced me to seek media asylum
elsewhere. But where? One magazine is clearly setting the agenda right
now, but the question niggled: is the biggest fan of Sainsbury’s the
Magazine lad enough for Loaded?
I remember being half-hearted about it in a launch review (Campaign, 22
April 1994). I’m also way too old to be in the target audience. But
surely there’s a place in the Loaded universe for someone who dreams in
stereo about Tony Yeboah and Nastassja Kinski, but can’t be doing with
the Groucho set?
The way in, as ever, is sex. Is GQ going to have less of it under its
new editor (Campaign, last week)? Will Esquire have more of it? It’s
mulled over in the media’s media because Loaded has become the biggest-
selling men’s magazine just 18 months after launch.
It’s less overtly sexual than GQ; its coverage is so much more tongue-
in-cheek (often literally) than GQ’s arty/neo-Helmut Newtony approach.
Look at this month’s covers: GQ - scantily clad Eva H, Esquire -
scantily clad Liz H, Loaded - Suggs with kit on. Loaded is eminently
‘why am I reading this rubbish at two in the morning?’ readable, with
unmissable features on Keith Chegwin’s battle against drink and all-time
top gameshow totty. Its regular features have passed into the culture:
‘Greatest Living Englishman’, ‘Platinum Rogues’, and ‘Most Wanted’ (this
month: Katy Haswell, a babe TV news journalist, happy to dress up in
black velvet and leather). While the tales of Loaded journos ligging
their way round parties and rock tours can get wearisome, it’s clear
these brave reporters are having a ball. Loaded’s enthusiasm is its main
strength, be it in the vodkathon taste test or the excellent piece on
the top sports writer, Hugh McIlvanney.
Loaded is written with great energy and a huge dollop of wit - albeit
pretty basic stuff. It’s an extremely well-paced magazine, with a life
of its own that pulls you through towards the back. This is partly due
to the absence of all those ‘continued on page 229’ features, designed
beautifully on page 57, but on page 229 unreadable masses of text
sharing spreads with the same.
Loaded is funny, but is it harmful? Like the Sun at its best (and
worst), Loaded appeals to the lowest common denominator in all of us. It
is futile to criticise it in serious terms. Nevertheless, one effect of
its success is that sentiments like the blatant lusting after the likes
of Katy Haswell, and the canonisation of hard drugs and blind
drunkenness, soon pass out of the ironic and back into the everyday
unthinking. It breeds an environment where rivals can boast blithely to
be ‘less ‘fuck a girl’ more ‘make love to a woman’’. Many magazines
start out fun, and end up their own backsides. That’s how Loaded found
its niche. Let’s hope it remembers that it’s not supposed to be taken