Bikini girls and tabloid sensationalism in the pioneering men’s magazine.
The history of men’s magazines in the UK might be written through the long run of Parade magazine, which began life back in 1916, under the title Blighty, where it was pitched at servicemen in the first world war as a humorous, slightly ribald rival to Titbits and Reveille, two other long-running publications. Although it initially only lasted until 1920, the second world war saw it revived as a weekly publication in 1939, and this time it lasted far beyond the war. In 1958, it was rebranded as Blighty Parade and had the emphasis changed to make it a pin-up magazine, before finally becoming simply Parade in 1960. By this time, a format that mixed glamour girls, humour and tabloid-style scandal and sensationalism was in place and would remain that way for the next couple of decades. As time went on, the magazine became more risqué – reflecting the changes to tabloids of the era, it would be featuring topless glamour models by the 1970s. In the 1980s, the magazine was bought by David Sullivan and rebranded as a monthly software girly magazine, less explicit than his other magazines like Playbirds and Whitehouse, but a world away from the magazine of a decade earlier. By 1999, as British obscenity laws finally loosened, it went hardcore, as far removed from its original as could be imagined.
Connoisseurs might argue the point, but for us, the glory days of Parade were the 1960s. The combination of sexy starlets and scandal – often moralising stories and campaigning outrage – was a fascinating one, but it is the covers that really stand out as a genuine parade of 1960s glamour. If you want to see how sex symbols, movie starlets and international top totty – not to mention public tastes and moral attitudes – evolved during the decade, this is as good a place to start as any, as film stills featuring big names like Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida give way to bikini shots of continental models and, eventually, near-topless cheesecake images. Along the way, the international starlets with exotic names mix with big-name movie stars like Raquel Welch (whose name is misspelt at one point as Rachel), Charlotte Rampling, Ann-Margret and Ursula Andress; cult Euro movie stars like Silvia Koschina, Marissa Mell, Pamela Tiffin, Janet Agren, Margaret Lee and Claudia Cardinale; Hammer glamour girls Veronica Carlson, Yutte Stensgaard and Yvonne Romain; and legendary British nude models Margaret Nolan (still in her Vicky Kennedy persona), Annette Johnson and June Palmer – all featured on a virtually unchanging design throughout the decade. It’s a fascinating archive – and our gallery here only scratches the surface of a decade that saw over 600 editions published.
Click individual images to see the full version.
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