Maxim closes
I don’t normally blog about serious things, largely because a) I’d rather make sneering jokes about posh boys slumming it in Hoxton and b) see ‘a’. But today, it seems like the men’s magazine market was dealt a fatal blow with the news that Maxim magazine is no more. And for me, that’s something I think I should mark.

Magazines have always closed, in fact it’s the one thing you could always rely on them to do. But in the past, when a title was shut down there was always a new one to take its place. So Pretentious Architect would be replaced by Stunningly Trendy London Apartment Monthly and so on and so on.

Not any more.

Mags are falling like Cristiano Ronaldo after a crunching tackle in front of the cameras at Old Trafford. And it’s men’s publications that are the ones doing the rolling around the pitch in agony.

The first – and perhaps, best – British men’s mag of the modern era was the style-with-substance Arena, which launched in 1986. After that, in 1994, came Loaded, a publication based on the philosophy that you could love good music, great journalism and football at the same time – as anyone who’d read soccer fanzines during the ’80s would have been able to tell you. Sensing a cash cow, EMAP re-branded For Him Monthly as FHM, and a slew of other titles like Front, ICE and Maxim all appeared. The zeitgeist was truly being tapped into.

I’ve worked in this sector for years, editing ICE up until its closure in 2007, and more recently as Contributing Editor on the now-defunct Arena – and Maxim’s demise really does feel like the end of an era. An era that started in the late 1970s with football fans dressing in designer gear to go to the match, exploded with acid house and delivered the beery good times of the 1990s. That particular part of social history – clothes, clubs and all, is now over.

None of the men’s magazines that are left sit in that uniquely cheeky British middle ground that the original Loaded made its own. Instead you have the safe-but-professional GQ, the beautifully designed Esquire – and Loaded, FHM, ZOO and Nuts, all left wondering how they’re going to keep hold of the readers that have deserted them for the internet.

In the days before Arena heralded the men’s mag era, British males bought publications that reflected their passions, be it carp fishing, caravan touring or wearing camouflage sun-hats and storing high-grade weaponry in caves in north Wales. The demise of Maxim and Arena signals a move away from the general interest men’s magazine and back to this older model. The fishing and bird-watching titles, like cockroaches in a nuclear war will be here long after Nuts has unveiled its last girl-next-door. While some – and I’m thinking of the Guardian readers who left sneering remarks about Maxim’s end on the paper’s website – will take delight in another lad’s mag going to the wall, others will see that we are close to losing something very special here. A sector of publishing that really reflected the humour and ideals of the sharp, young British male, a million miles away from the privileged, safe world of so much journalism.

As writers we’ve all relished working in an industry which is, as Julie Burchill once said, a doss – and for some there is the creeping realisation that the party may really be over. Up until recently we’d never had it so good. And some of us – journalists and readers alike – may never have it that good again. A shame.


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