From Playboy’s game-changing success in the sixties and seventies to the US-advance of popular UK lifestyle publications like Maxim and FHM, the journey of the men’s magazine has been an intriguing one. Where women’s mags traditionally revolved around homemaking and social decorum, only to shift towards sex tips and body shaming in the 70s and 80s, men’s lifestyle publications seemed to diverge into outright pornography or thinly-veiled pornography (no nipples) and five-page guides to curing a major hangover. Now, with the closure of UK-based rags FHM and Zoo, it seems the end of this era of male-focused lifestyle publication is nearing its end.
Launched in 1985, For Him Magazine (FHM) led the new wave of lad culture combining intense alcohol consumption, a fondness for near-naked chicks. With circulation declining notably in 2015’s first half – 67,000 units; down 20% from last year – FHM regrettably seems to be closing down publication for good, announcing the closure on its website Tuesday. The weekly-published Zoo, too, is ending its assault on modesty and puritanism by shutting down its presses after 12 years and more than 600 issues, shattering the spirits of what few readers it had managed to retain after the great migration of horny dudes to the World Wide Web, the new (digital!) den of iniquity.
The announcements from FHM and Zoo come just one short month after Playboy Magazine announced it would not feature fully-nude women on its pages after March 2016. With Playboy neutering itself and Loaded, Front, Bizarre, Nuts all knocking back brewskies in magazine heaven, and now the announcement that Zoo and FHM are going down for the count, could the entire men’s magazine industry have kicked the proverbial bucket? Former FHM Features Editor Martin Daubney doesn’t seem to think so, insisting that lad culture will survive, even thrive, online. “The anti-lad mag campaigners are deluded if they feel this represents some hollow victory against ‘lad culture,'” Daubney told The Telegraph. “It is my prediction that, in time, the campaigners who despised the lad mags’ lifeblood will look back on these magazines as a period of relative innocence, that they would welcome back in a heartbeat.”