To me loaded is right up there with Playboy in the 1950s and Rolling Stone in the 1960s. It changed the magazine industry completely and even more than that it weaved itself into the fabric of society.
Derek Harbinson, editor of loaded between 1997 and 1998.Who remembers loaded magazine? During my weekly browse through amazon I came across a book called Getting Away With It: The Inside Story of Loaded by Tim Southwell. Along with the infamous James Brown (journalist not the singer) and Mick Bunnage, Southwell created loaded which was a publication that celebrated British men having the time of their lives. Unlike their counterparts, Arena, GQ, Esquire and For Him (later rebranded as FHM and found success as a loaded imitation) which took themselves very seriously, loaded took a lot of pleasure in making fun of themselves. The publication launched in 1994 selling just over 59,000 and went on to sell an almighty 400,000 plus in 1997. This was in an era where men's magazines were relatively new so it is no surprise that Southwell has touted loaded as the greatest magazine that the world has seen and of course being a respectable journo he set out to document his experience in a book which was published in 1998.
Cool Britannia what with the explosion of Oasis, Euro 96 and loaded were right in the midst of it all and capturing it. The publication was so influential that not only did male magazines start copying them it also inspired the launch of female publications such as Minx that were aimed at ladettes. Tim Southwell and James Brown became friends in 1992 while celebrating their beloved Leeds United defeat Stuttgart in the European Cup in Barcelona. Whether it was the elation of seeing their team win or the high energy of all the drink and atmosphere in Spain but this got their creative juices going and they came up with an idea for a men's magazine.
Southwell takes us through his experience with loaded from working on the dummy in order to test the viability to working round the clock to launch the first issue and recruting talented writers, editors and designers. He also shares with us the highlights of working on a publication which was a huge cultural phenomenon and gave birth to the lad culture which became a manifest of the 90s. Interviewing many a celeb and being interviewed by the media to talk about the success of loaded or on lad mania. He comments on what it was like being part of the loaded team with the plethora of titles at IPC towers and how inspiring it was to bump ideas with a crazy, wacky, creative bunch of like minded misfits. The book is a compelling look into the world of magazines especially the synergy it takes to run a successful one. Oh and let's not forget the politics that were involved and creative differences, Southwell bumping heads with Brown in the typical deputy editor does all the slog while the editor takes all the credit scenario. There are stories from members of the loaded crew such as Martin Deeson, Michael Holden and Bill Borrows. Southwell"s writing is just right and his prose is totally engrossing and I was hooked from page one. In addition, loaded really takes me back to the 90s when magazines were being launched all over the place and when things were pretty damm cool. loaded is still being published but is now a mere shadow of itself with circulation figures of 50,000 recorded this August.
Getting Away With It: The Inside Story of Loaded is available to buy from amazon.
Check out the clip above with James Brown from the Inspiring Entrepreneurs event at British Library, called Hot Off the Press from a few years back.