Why The ’90s Was The Golden Age Of Magazines

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1. Sky still existed.

Running from 1988 to 2001, Sky was unusual in that it appealed to both sexes equally. It was sex-obsessed, but in a fun rather than a leering way. It was edited in the mid-’90s by Mark Frith, who established a clubby tone that he later took to Heat.

2. So did Select.

The one fact most people know about Select is that the term Britpop was coined in its pages, in the 1993 ‘Yanks Go Home’ issue. It was always full of inventive feature ideas, and many of its contributors have gone on to big things, not least Father Ted creator Graham Linehan. The mag folded in 2000.

3. And The Face.

The Face ran from 1980 to 2004, but its most successful period was the mid-’90s.

4. And Arena.

Arena was created in 1986 by Nick Logan, who had started The Face in 1980. It had a good run in the ’90s, before declining in the ’00s as the men’s magazine market became over-saturated.

5. Men’s magazines occasionally had men on the cover.

Launched in 1994, Loaded was the publishing phenomenon of the decade. These days it’s just another babe-worshipping lads’ mag, but back then cover stars included Noel Gallagher, Kevin Keegan, and - on the very first issue - Gary Oldman.

6. And they were as much about humour, as they were about boobs.

Comedy characters who graced the cover of Loaded in the ’90s include Waynetta Slob from Harry Enfield And Chums, Homer Simpson, and Trigger from Only Fools And Horses.

7. Meanwhile, Jane offered a punchy alternative to mainstream women’s mags.

Launched in the US at the tail end of the ’90s, Jane displayed an irreverent sense of humour that set it apart from the more pompous and formulaic titles on the newsstand. It was never huge in the UK, but was much loved by those in the know.

8. And Rolling Stone was on a roll.

Photograph by Matt Mahurin.

9.

Photo by Mark Seliger.

10.

Photo by David LaChapelle.

11. There was so much choice. If you didn’t fancy NME that week, there was always Melody Maker.

Melody Maker had an extraordinary seventy-four year run, starting out covering jazz in 1926, and eventually closing in 2000.

12. If Q didn’t tempt you, Vox was worth a punt.

A close competitor to Q in its heyday, music monthly Vox launched in 1990 but folded before the decade was out.

13. Video game mags were funny, and snarky, and sold in staggering quantities.

Launched in November 1995 to coincide with the launch of the PlayStation console, Official UK Playstation Magazine swiftly became the biggest selling games mag ever. By the end of the decade it was shifting half a million copies a month - more than the likes of FHM.

14. And there was one to suit every taste. Remember Mean Machines?

17. Smash Hits’s glory days were in the ’80s, but it carried on being quite good into the ’90s.

Smash Hits ran from 1978 to 2006. The fortnightly magazine regularly sold 500,000 copies in the early 1980s, but its biggest-selling edition featuring Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan was bought by more than one million readers in 1989.

19. Apart from anything else, Smash Hits gave you plenty of TOP-NOTCH posters for your bedroom wall. Like this one.

20. And, er, this one.

21. Though admittedly not every issue was a stormer.

22. Of course it helped that magazines had plenty of larger-than-life cover stars to choose from back then.

24. But the fact is, magazines were simply a bigger deal in the ’90s.

In 1997, FHM overtook Loaded to become the UK’s biggest-selling men’s mag, a position it held until 2009, when it was eclipsed by Men’s Health.

25. More people bought them, so they had budgets to do stuff like this.

images.businessweek.com / Via http://Photo%20by%20Laurence%20King/Chronicle%20Books

To promote the 1999 Sexiest Women In The World issue, FHM came up with a blockbuster marketing stunt: they projected a nude photo of Gail Porter onto the Houses Of Parliament.

26. Those days aren’t coming back, but if you grew up in the ’90s, you’ll understand.

27. Magazines were things of tactile beauty, crammed with creativity, wit and excitement.

28. Never forget.

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