The Adult Magazines Guide: Past and Present

The world of adult magazines has changed a lot over the last hundred years. From their humble but risqué beginnings as explorations of art and naturalism to their heyday of pushing the boundaries in the 1970s and today, where top shelf porn includes some hardcore and extreme action.

In this feature, we look at the world of adult magazines, past and present to understand their influence on social issues and why, despite the immediate access of online sex, we still continue to buy printed pornography.

Adult Magazines: A Brief History

Though pornographic images have been produced since the dawn of civilization with the Ancient Greeks depicting the goings on from inside brothels on pottery, the adult magazine (as we know it) first took shape in the 1880s.

The introduction of halftone printing in 1880 allowed photographs to be replicated relatively inexpensively and it wasn’t long before the adult industry sat up and took notice; here was a method to mass produce erotic imagery and circulate these to a wider audience.

France was the first such market and nude models were photographed in the name of ‘art’ and appeared in titles that celebrated naturism.

Early 20th Century

In the 1920s, the British title ‘Health & Efficiency’ began publishing images of the naked female form in the name of naturism. A cultured periodical that was already considered by many as being obscene was largely regarded as a softcore adult magazine by the time of the Second World War.

Around the same time in the states, explicit comic books were growing in popularity. Known as ‘Tijuana Bibles’, these crudely drawn but bawdy images were the forerunner to glossy top-shelf magazines in America.

early adult magazines

Crude but popular Tijuana bibles were a pocket sized dose of filth. Image via Wikipedia.

In 1935, the predecessor of the adult magazine, as we know it today, was launched with Men Only. Covering male issues from a male perspective the publication ran with a tagline of ‘We don’t want women readers. We won’t have women readers’. The title had plate prints of artistic nudes but was mainly text based. Undergoing many changes throughout the years, the title was relaunched in 1971 as a top shelf magazine.

During the Second World War, many American glamour magazines were beginning to feature provocative images of popular screen stars. The focus of attention during this time was very much on the legs and these photographs were often torn from the pages of magazines and pinned up on the walls by US soldiers; the term ‘pin-up’ was coined.

The Fifties

By the 1950s, the magazine in general was becoming a growing industry as mass-market production costs became lower. The period saw several big name entrants to niche men’s interest with the world’s first softcore porn magazines introduced in 1952, Modern Man and Playboy in 1953.

The first edition of Playboy was to coin another phrase synonymous with the adult magazine world; the ‘centrefold’. This premier publication from the world’s most enduring porn empire featured a nude photograph of Marilyn Monroe in a double page spread at the centre of the magazine. Owner, Hugh Hefner was well aware that the image would be stripped from the page and pinned up so he thought he would make this easier for his audience by placing it in the centrefold.

The Sixties

These two powerhouses of pornographic print remained the only mainstream titles widely available on the market until the 1960s saw some new entrants; Lui, a French title launched in 1963 and Penthouse, a British magazine in 1965.

Penthouse saw a new kind of image with the models being posed to look indirectly at the camera and the magazine had the appeal of voyeurism. The title was also the first to publish a full frontal nude image or images that showed some pubic hair. Causing a good deal of controversy at the time, this development of mainstream publishers opened the doors for new entrants to the market including fellow UK title, Mayfair.

mayfair 1960s adult magazine

The 1960s saw many new entrants to the adult magazine market, including British publication Mayfair. Image via Pinterest.

In 1969, Penthouse published an American version of its magazine which was in direct competition to Playboy forcing the old guard title to start using full-frontal images. What followed was an increasingly more risqué attempt to push the boundaries of obscenity laws in the US sparking what was known as ‘Pubic Wars’.

The Seventies

As explicit images were becoming more common the seventies saw yet more titles hitting the top shelf with Hustler in 1974 in the USA and Men Only and Club International in the UK.

Playboy further upped their game in 1971 with the world’s first fully nude centrefold.

Both Penthouse and Playboy continued with their war of images during the 1970s with ever more racy material causing public offence. By the 1980s, with the emergence of more hardcore titles both magazines had subdued their offerings to provide more suggestive than explicit content and focus on an upmarket and sophisticated audience. Playboy decided to do this by concentrating on their serious articles and fiction content.

The Eighties

With the rise of the pornographic movie being widely available on VHS, sales of printed pornography began to decline and during this decade the US alone saw a 50% fall in circulation numbers.

In the UK, Escort, Men’s World and Razzle were launched.

The Nineties

As the lines of public decency became more liberal, saucy publications called ‘Lad’s Mags’ were becoming more and more popular. Widely accepted as not being top shelf material, the front covers of many of these titles would have caused widespread uproar just a few decades ago.

Magazines like Loaded and FHM were all competing for shelf space but doing a better job at appealing to the masses who preferred to avoid the stigma of reaching to the top shelf for dirty magazines. Not only that but the growth of the internet was fast fulfilling the need for pornography a lot more discreetly.

However, magazines like Hustler were producing more hardcore content including images of penetration, group sex and fetish scenes.

Present Day

Over the last few decades the fall in the number of available magazine publications in all markets is undeniable yet the stalwarts of the adult industry that remain enjoy some of the highest circulation figures in the publishing industry.

adult magazine guide

Top shelf magazines, or ‘Men’s Interest’ remain a rite of passage.

Adult Magazine: A Social Perspective

Top shelf magazines have been a rite of passage for many teenage boys from as early as the 1960s and even today, despite the ease of access offered by the internet. Though pornographic in nature, many titles have been credited with pushing the boundaries of public discourse on some important social issues and not just those relating to sex.

Playboy, in particular, has a reputation for publishing insightful written content including some award winning and famous authors including Ray Bradbury, Road Dahl, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and celebrated feminist, Margaret Atwood. See? We were buying it for the articles!

Adult mags have launched the careers of many well-known models and continue to be a popular medium for stars to reach their audiences; and not just in the adult industry. Famous celebrities who have appeared nude in Playboy include Elle McPherson, Jenny McCarthy and Farah Fawcett.

Celebrities queue up to be photographed nude for Playboy. Image via Playboy.

Playboy: A Reflection of Where Adult Magazines Are At Today

When the iconic founder of Playboy, Hugh Hefner, sadly passed away in September 2017 many journalists tried to draw a comparison with his demise and that of the adult magazine. This, despite his flagship publication recently bringing back nude models after just one year as a non-nude title.

The surprise decision in 2015 saw the January/Feburary 2016 Edition free from any naked women for the first time in the publication’s 62-year history. The move failed to see any upturn in the magazine’s sales but, rather, resulted in decreases in circulation.

As one industry analyst commented:

Nudes were the brand, so if one day you remove them, then you technically kill the brand image. Playboy with no nudes was an oxymoron.

The return of the naked form in the March/April 2017 was launched with the much heralded marketing statement that ‘Naked is Normal’ and that sentiment has lain at the heart of Hefner’s vision for Playboy from its inception in 1953.

Cooper Hefner, heir of the Playboy empire and Chief Creative Officer of the magazine, admitted that the move had been a mistake but that times have changed since the title was first launched. In an illuminating essay on the subject, Hefner Jr insisted that his father’s intentions for the magazine had always been widely misinterpreted. He went on to suggest that Playboy’s philosophy from the start had always been “to promote a healthy conversation about sex while also encouraging dialogue on social, philosophical and religious opinions”.

Whether this is true or not is beside the point, Hefner’s magazine (and other adult titles) have certainly, and continue to, spark debate on the subject of sex in the public arena.

Past Adult Magazine Publications

Sadly, these influential titles are no longer being published but all, in their own way, have helped shape the adult magazine markets across the world.

adam film world adult magazine guide

Image via Wikipedia

Market: USA

Founded: 1966

Final Issue: 2008

 

Adam Film World

This magazine commenced publication in 1966 as the ‘Adam Film Quarterly’ and launched a second title, ‘Adam Film World Guide’, in 1981 which eventually became the flagship title

Designed to be a companion guide for pornographic movies (and mainstream releases), Adam Film World was considered to be one of the leading titles in the industry during the 1980s and 1990s.

The editorial team also put together an annual Directory of Adult Films from 1984 detailing all information, statistics and data on the previous 18 months releases. The final issue of the ‘Adam Film World Guide’ (Volume 21, No. 6) was released in August 2008.

asian babes adult magazines guide

Image via Wikipedia

Market: UK

Founded: 1992

Final Issue: 2012

 

Asian Babes

Remaining in circulation for twenty years, Asian Babes was initially launched as an experiment. Depicting erotic images of women of Pakistani and Indian origin, the title later went on to include Thai, Korean, Chinese and Japanese models. Circulation for the new title proved a hit with 160,000 copies being sold.

Though the readership was mainly white British males, the Asian community of the UK were well aware of this top shelf favorite and it was a regular source of controversy with boycotts being held against resellers.

Celebrity Skin adult magazine guide

Image via Amazon

Market: USA

Founded: 1986

Final Issue: 2009

 

Celebrity Skin

A case of ‘another one bites the dust’, Celebrity Skin was a niche magazine showcasing nude and semi-nude pictures of celebrities. With the rise of such material now being freely and widely available on the internet it is little wonder that circulation figures dwindled over the last decade making the title unviable.

Originally a spin-off title of the more popular High Society magazine, Celebrity Skin was the first publication of its kind to introduce the nude celebrity scandal. It is likely that the tolerance for mainstream publication of such images also helped to seal its eventual consignment to history.

The history of the magazine is not without controversy as several celebrities unsuccessfully tried to sue the publishers.

chic porn magazine guide

Image via Pinterest

Market: USA

Founded: 1976

Final Issue: 2001

 

Chic

Now the name of a Spanish language fashion magazine, Chic was originally  the title of one of Larry Flynt’s publications in the 70s through to the 90s.

It was originally intended to be offered as a more upmarket version of Hustler. The magazine had strong art direction and less explicit images.

Chic was famously sued in 1984 after the editorial team misrepresented the publication as a glamour magazine to an interviewee.

chick dutch adult magazine

Image via Catawiki

Market: Netherlands

Founded: 1968

Final Issue: 2008

 

Chick

This Dutch magazine was founded by the notorious pornographer Joop Wilhelmus and his business partner, Jan Wenderhold in 1968.

Aimed at the common man, Chick was a popular title and reached circulation figures in excess of 140,000 by the early 1970s.

A controversial publishing group, Chick eventually closed its publications in 2008

color climax adult magazine guide

Image via Image Fap

Market: Denmark

Founded: 1967

Final Issue: Varies by title

 

Color Climax

Though this was the title of the popular Danish porn magazine, the Color Climax Corporation (CCC) has produced dozens of publications including Blue Climax, Rodox, Lesbian Love, Teenage Sex, Teenage Schoolgirls, Exciting, Sexy Girls, Teenage Gold, Sex Orgies and Sex Bizarre.

The company still exists through the archive of its vintage pornographic material though the magazines themselves were sold to a German company in the 1990s

The content of their magazines was varied according to the title but were always hardcore and extremely explicit. They were published in English to gain maximum export revenue to international markets.

A controversial company from the very start, CCC released its first publication of Color Climax two years before pornographic material was legalised in Denmark.

genesis adult magazine guide

Image via Amazon

Market: USA

Founded: 1973

Final Issue: 2012

 

Genesis

Despite being a popular title, Genesis has stopped producing copies of its physical magazine and has moved to become an internet based provider of pornographic material.

The title ran from 1973 until 2012 and featured only the female stars of adult movies. Columnists were also selected from the same stable and content was written by Tera Patrick, Tyler Faith and Jasmin St Clair.

The title featured a regular search for an amateur star as well as producing an annual list entitled ‘Porn’s Hot 100;’ a list of the best adult movie stars.

Genesis also created the F.A.M.E. awards, an event which ran for four years celebrating porn movie stars.

gent adult magazine guide

Image via Amazon

Market: USA

Founded: 1956

Final Issue: 2010

 

Gent

Another publication that now exists only on the web, Gent was one of the founding ‘skin magazines’, starting up a few years after the launch of Modern Man.

Celebrating women with larger breasts, the magazine ran until 2010 when it’s busty action moved exclusively online.

Like Playboy, Gent had a reputation for fiction during the 70s and 80s and featured writing from authors like Stephen King.

juggs adult magazine guide

Image via Wikipedia

Market: USA

Founded: 1981

Final Issue: 2009

 

Juggs

“Breast Men” in the US from the early 80s were offered this softcore adult magazine to satisfy their tastes for mammoth mammarys.

The title of the magazine fast became part of the common lexicon when the title of a porn mag was needed and references throughout popular media are rife.

At its peak, the magazine was selling around 150,000 copies with the success of the title owing largely to the fact that the models were regular women, often with more ample bodies.

Interestingly, the original editorial team were said to all be homosexual men who would purposefully choose uglier women to feature in the magazine.

Sadly, the title folded in 2009, briefly returned in 2015 but has since fallen by the wayside.

knave adult magazine guide

Image via Amazon

Market: UK

Founded: 1968

Final Issue: 2015

 

Knave

The ‘upmarket’ sister title to the UK’s ‘Fiesta’ (see below), Knave ran for 45 years before failing to keep up its circulation.

In the 70s through to the early 80s the title was known for its non-pornographic content and attracted the writing of many popular authors including Neil Gaiman.

Gaiman also worked as a journalist for the magazine and wrote film reviews.

Eric Fuller (creator of the lad’s mag, Maxim) worked for Knave.

leg show fetish adult magazine guide

Image via Etsy

Market: USA

Founded: 1980s

Final Issue: 2012

 

Leg Show

A niche fetish magazine aimed at those with a penchant for (you guessed it) legs, Leg Show was published in the USA from the 1980s and a German edition was produced in the 1990s.

Content usually focused on dominant female models wearing pantyhose, high heels and corsets.

modern man adult magazine

Image via Flickr

Market: USA

Founded: 1951

Final Issue: 1967

Modern Man

One of the original adult magazines to hit the market, the success of Modern Man was short-lived.

The focus of the content was on a more general mix of articles as well as softcore porn and images of famous women. This format proved not to be as popular with their audience and their editorial pieces on motoring, popular culture and humorous anecdotes left the magazine foundering just a decade after it started.

Famous models to appear in its pages before it closed included Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Pat Sheehan.

oui adult magazine guide

Image via Etsy

Market: USA

Founded: 1972

Final Issue: 2007

Oui

Originally published in France as a European equivalent of Playboy, under the name Lui (see below), the first edition of Luhit the newsstands in 1968.

The success of this continental magazine did not escape the attention of Playboy Enterprises and, in 1972, the company purchased the rights to market a US version. They changed the name to Oui and ran the magazine alongside its main title to target a younger audience.

Oui was marketed to the under 35s and was intended to be less mature than Playboy. However, the editorial team ran with some great content including pieces on the C.I.A., an interview with emerging actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the infamous article entitled ‘Is this the man who ate Michael Rockefeller?’.

By 1981, the title had claimed a growth in readership which was primarily coming from those who previously read Playboy. The title was sold and the focus of the content became less sophisticated with more youth-centred features.

Despite bowing to popular demands to increase the hardcore content by the 2000s, the magazine’s circulation dwindled and eventually closed in 2007.

perfect 10 adult magazine

Image via Amazon

Market: USA

Founded: 1972

Final Issue: 2007

Perfect 10

Though still operating as an online magazine, the print run of Perfect 10 ended in 2007 after 25 years of publishing.

The magazine was famous for getting in on the ground floor with emerging talent, often having featured models who went on to become Penthouse Pets or Playboy Playmates.

The internet version of the magazine has been fighting multiple lawsuits since it left traditional publishing and the founder is reported to spend just 40-50 hours a year creating content but spends up to 8 hours a day dealing with litigation issues.

screw magazine adult market

Image via Pinterest

Market: USA

Founded: 1968

Final Issue: 2003

 

Screw

Published weekly for 35 years, Screw was a tabloid style adult magazine that regularly featured controversial news items.

The title gained notoriety in 1969 by questioning the sexuality of J Edgar Hoover and later in 1972 by publishing unauthorised photographs of Jaqueline Kennedy in the nude.

The editorial team faced several court charges of obscenity as well as defamation of character.

Current Adult Magazine Publications

These titles are all still producing regular content for the mainstream markets and most have been publishing for decades. Despite a worldwide decline in the sale of printed pornography they all enjoy a good readership both in their home markets and with strong international sales.

Aktuell Rapport adult magazine guide

Image via Pinterest

Market: Norway & Sweden

Founded: 1976

Publisher: Tre-mag Sweden AB

Frequency: 26 titles per year

Aktuell Rapport

Originally called Rapport 76, this Swedish owned company produces titles in both Norwegian and Swedish. This is due to the fact that the original title was a Norwegian brand but later sold to Swedish publishers.

Aktuell Rapport was originally produced monthly then changed to weekly in the 1980s before settling on its current bi-weekly format.

The magazine spawned several DVD titles of the same name during the 1990s.

Still published today, Aktuell Rapport covers news, sports and humour as well as featuring softcore porn.

asian fever adult magazines

Image via Wikipedia

Market: USA

Founded: 1999

Publisher: Larry Flynt Publications

Frequency: 13 titles per year

Asian Fever

First issued almost twenty years ago this niche magazine aimed at the Asiaphile, Asian Fever is a part of the Larry Flynt Publications empire which also produces Hustler and Barely Legal.

The magazine features models of East Asian descent and has a mix of content including adult film reviews, features as well as explicit photographs.

The magazines has also spawned a popular series of movies, also entitled Asian Fever.

barely legal adult magazines

Image via Amazon

Market: USA

Founded: 1993

Publisher: Larry Flynt Publications

Frequency: 13 titles per year

Barely Legal

Another title in the Larry Flynt stable of publications, Barely Legal is a softcore magazine with the focus on models who are 18 and over. Some models are in their mid-twenties though have been photographed to accentuate their youthful looks.

The magazine features a centrefold who is named Barely Legal Teen Queen.

The magazine format was brand new when it was launched in the early 90s and quickly gained an avid readership. The title is the second bestselling magazine in the Flynt publishing group, behind Hustler.

beppin bejean japanese adult magazine

Image via Twitter

Market: Japan

Founded: 1984

Publisher: GOT Corporation

Frequency: 13 titles per year

Bejean (aka Beppin)

This Japanese adult magazine has been one of the bestselling porn magazines in the country since it was launched over thirty years ago. Online retailer, J-List, hailed the title as one of the ‘cornerstones of the Japanese AV magazines market’.

The magazine’s selling point has always been its association with promoting new talent in the AV industry as well as its unfussy centrefolds.

Photographed without clothing, props or jewellery the centrefold is double-sided and the reverse shows the same model at a 45 degree angle.

club adult magazine guide

Image via Wikipedia

Market: USA

Founded: 1972

Publisher:  Magna Publishing Group

Frequency: 6 titles per year

Club

Club is the American sister publication of the Club International title.

Unlike its British cousin, the American version contains hardcore content including insertions, lesbianism and masturbation.

Club also produces several spin off titles including Club Extreme, Club Raw, Club Explicit, Club Kink, Club Asian, Club Letters, Club Confidential and Club Chicas. There is also an annual Best of Club publication.

The publishing group are keen to retain an active audience and much of their focus is on developing the content on their website.

Club international adult magazine guide

Image via Paul Raymond

Market: UK/Europe

Founded: 1972

Publisher: Paul Raymond Publications

Frequency: 13 titles per year

Club International

The UK and European sister of the American title by the same name, Club International is one of the top selling British porn magazines. It is considered one of the publishers more upmarket publications.

The title has regular features including a readers letters page where subscribers share their exploits as well as softcore pictures of the latest adult stars.

In an effort to boost sales, Club International has offered a free DVD with its magazine since 2008.

The magazine has a popular web spin off which can be found on the Paul Raymond XXX site.

debonair adult magazine guide

Image via Pinterest

Market: India

Founded: 1973

Publisher: Pinpoint Media Group

Frequency: 12 titles per year

Debonair

Modelled after the success of Playboy, Debonair is an English language magazine produced in and for the Indian market.

Though a much tamer version, the original magazine featured semi-nude centrefolds at the heart of its drive to capture the adult market.

In 2005, Debonair underwent a major shift and removed nudity from its publications. The change was a result of an editorial decision to move the magazine to a more upmarket men’s magazine targeting a younger audience. The magazine is now seen as a men’s luxury title to rival GQ.

escort adult magazine porn guide

Image via Pinterest

Market: UK

Founded: 1980

Publisher: Paul Raymond Publications

Frequency: 13 titles per year

Escort

Escort’s USP is the publication of amateur models and, more specifically, reader’s wives and girlfriends. Emulating the success of the popular format made famous by fellow British magazine, Fiesta (see below), Escort features softcore images of women in public locations.

The magazine is produced by the UK powerhouse of porn publishing, Paul Raymond Productions who also distribute Razzle, Mayfair and Men Only.

Escort is in the top ten adult magazines sold in the UK and has enjoyed a solid readership due to its widespread availability since 1980.

fiesta adult magazine

Image via Amazon

Market: UK

Founded: 1966

Publisher: Galaxy Publications

Frequency: 13 titles per year

Fiesta

Fiesta is the best-selling adult magazine in the UK and has been publishing top shelf material for over fifty years. Partially credited as an ingredient to its success is the popular ‘Reader’s Wives’ section. An opportunity for subscribers to submit photographs of their other halves in various states of undress, this section was the print forerunner to amateur cam action. Though emulated in dozens of other titles worldwide, Fiesta was the first adult magazine to feature ‘Reader’s Wives’.

A softcore magazine dubbed the ‘magazine for men which women love to read’, Fiesta’s owners also produced ‘Knave’.

gallery adult magazine

Image via Amazon

Market: USA

Founded: 1972

Publisher: Magna Publishing Group

Frequency: 13 titles per year

Gallery

Producing over 200 issues to date, Gallery had suffered from a stream of financial problems before being bought by the Magna Publishing Group in 2008.

Founded in the early 70s, the magazine was originally styled so closely on Playboy that Hugh Hefner was forced to write to the publishers. This first close shave resulted in a rapid reformatting but despite several successive problems including bankruptcy Gallery is still in print.

It is likely that this is mainly due to its excellent content and format along with the popularity of its ‘Girl Next Door’ feature.

high society adult magazine

Image via Etsy

Market: US

Founded: 1976

Publisher: Magna Publishing Group

Frequency: 12 titles per year

High Society

Running for forty years this popular title has built on a format of hardcore images with feature celebrity pieces and strong articles.

The first editor of the High Society magazine was former porn star, Gloria Leonard who is credited with creating the first phone sex lines.

The magazine has produced some popular spin off publications including Celebrity Skin.

hustler adult magazine guide

Image via Catawiki

Market: US

Founded: 1974

Publisher: Larry Flynt Publications

Frequency: 12 titles per year

Hustler

Hustler’s original USP was in the production of more explicit imagery than its competitors and its launch in the 1970s saw evermore hardcore content.

Considered a lowbrow version of Playboy, the magazine has created a solid readership over the years and continues to produce graphic depictions of penetrative sex, masturbation and lesbianism.

The magazine has included many popular features over the years including ‘Beaver Hunt’ (a search for the best amateur models), ‘Asshole of the Month’ (a public figure is selected for criticism) and ‘Ad’s We’d Like to See’ (creative reinventions of popular advertising)

At its peak, Hustler is reported to have had circulation figures in excess of 3 million but the general decline in printed pornography has seen this fall to around 500,000.

The magazine has created controversial issues including the first ‘Scratch n Sniff’ centrefold in 1977 and the ‘Chester the Molester’ cartoon.

lui adult magazine guide

Image via Pinterest

Market: France

Founded: 1963

Publisher: Hachette Filipacchi Médias (HFM)

Frequency: 12 titles per year

Lui

A French magazine which was set up to rival Playboy in Europe, Lui sold the US franchising rights to Playboy in 1972 (see Oui, above).

The magazine is printed in Italy, Germany, Spain and Brazil as well as in France.

Lui has undergone several new formats over the years but retains a sophisticated and mature title.

In the period 2001-2010, the title was considered a pornographic publication

Attracting an artistic approach to its nudes, Lui now has a reputation for being more of a glamour/adult magazine.

In recent years it has attracted cover girls including Rihanna, Naomi Campbell and Rita Ora; all have appeared nude or topless inside their respective editions.

mayfair adult magazine guide

Image via eBay

Market: UK

Founded: 1965

Publisher: Paul Raymond Publications

Frequency: 13 titles per year

Mayfair

Mayfair was the British response to the launch of Playboy and was once the premier adult title in the UK.

The content of the magazine is considered softcore but has grown more explicit since the title was purchased by the Paul Raymond group in 1990.

The original format featured serious articles but these have gradually been dropped.

men only adult magazine guide

Image via Amazon

Market: UK

Founded: 1935, but only considered ‘top shelf’ in 1971

Publisher: Paul Raymond Publications

Frequency: 13 titles per year

Men Only

Originally published in the 1930s as a saucy cartoon, Men Only was launched as an adult magazine in the early 1970s.

The title was picked up by Soho club owner, Peter Raymond, and revamped to offer softcore pornographic content and was an instant hit. This proved to be the first success for Raymond who went on to create and publish some of the best selling British adult magazines of all time.

Men Only continued to produce comic strips in its pages albeit more saucy in content and graphic in depiction.

The title continues to be produced but is now a full-glossy magazine mainly featuring nude and softcore images of well known models.

Mens world adult magazine

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Market: UK

Founded: 1988

Publisher: Paul Raymond Publications

Frequency: 13 titles per year

Men’s World

A British magazine celebrating well-known erotic and porn models, Men’s World is a softcore publication.

Originally produced in a larger format, the magazine’s big centrefold was the main selling point. The title has since reverted to a standard size.

In common with all of Paul Raymond Publications, Men’s World is also available online where members can excess more explicit imagery.

penthouse adult magazine

Image via Wikipedia

Market: UK

Founded: 1965

Publisher: Penthouse Global Media

Frequency: 12 titles per year

Penthouse

Though founded by American Bob Guccione, Penthouse is a British publication that features softcore pornography and lifestyle content.

A brief spell in the 1990s saw the magazine try a more hardcore approach but has since reverted to the more popular and mainstream format, similar to that of Playboy.

Penthouse has spawned many international variations of its title including Penthouse Forum in the US. Other secondary titles include Girls of Penthouse which features more explicit content.

Though circulation has dropped in recent years to just 100,000 copies, the magazine remains popular. The print format complements the company’s stable of porn films, television channels and even wines and spirits.

playboy adult magazine guide

Image via Flickr

Market: US

Founded: 1953

Publisher: Playboy Enterprises

Frequency: 12 titles per year

Playboy

There is no introduction needed for this infamous adult magazine title and no other publication has achieved the same level of success as Hugh Hefner’s ‘baby’.

Launched in 1953 using a loan from Hefner’s mother, Playboy owes much of the success of that first issue to its choice of model; Marilyn Monroe.

The magazine is published in multiple languages and has even appeared in Braille.

Now a symbol of the male culture, the famous bunny logo is one of the world’s most recognized brands.

At the height of its success, the flagship magazine was selling around seven million copies each month.

As well as strong editorial content, Playboy manages to keep a steady supply of famous names who are prepared to pose nude for the magazine. Famous faces who have featured in Playboy include Nancy Sinatra, Ursula Andress and Linda Evans.

The magazine has had its own fair share of controversy and censorship over the years and remains one of the brands at the heart of the debate over the availability of sex and pornography in the mass market.

Despite focusing much of its content on serious articles that provoke interesting debate and less on the naked female form, Playboy  continues to be the granddaddy of the adult magazine.

In 2016, the publishers removed nudity from the pages of the magazine but returned to its usual format just 12 months later.

private adult magazine guide

Image via eBay

Market: Sweden

Founded: 1965

Publisher: Private Media Group

Frequency: 13 titles per year

Private

Private was the first adult magazine to be printed in full colour and was the brainchild of Berth Milton, a Swedish entrepreneur. In the 60s, Milton produced some super-8 adult movies which were unsuccessful but his home collections of sets of colour nude photographs were an instant hit with customers at his shop.

Milton came up with a plan to produce a 36-page full colour magazine featuring his photographs and Private was born.

Creating all of the layout and artwork himself as well as sourcing content, the first issue featured his own secretary on the cover.

At the time, Sweden’s porn laws were being liberalised and Milton pushed the boundaries all the time.

Private grew an immediate domestic audience as well as internationally and has grown to become an important title in the adult market.

razzle adult magazine guide

Image via Amazon

Market: UK

Founded: 1983

Publisher: Paul Raymond Publications

Frequency: 13 titles per year

Razzle

Despite the UK market for softcore porn declining, Razzle is still a good seller for the Paul Raymond Publications Group.

The current magazine was launched in 1983 but it is predated by a pocket magazine of the same name which was published in the 40s and 50s.

The format of girl-next-door, amateur style content is a popular one and includes features on reader’s wives and true confessions as well as glamour models.

The magazine is widely available in newsagents and has become part of the national psyche with multiple references across British popular culture.

swank adult magazine

Image via Catawiki

Market: USA

Founded: 1941

Publisher: Magna Publishing Group

Frequency: 6 titles per year

Swank

The early years of Swank magazine are a little fuzzy with publication ceasing for several years and the direction of the content being confused.

Issues in the seventies were styled more on GQ magazine than a comparative skin publication. Since being sold to Magna Publishing in 1993 Swank has evolved to be a fully fledged citizen of the top shelf.

The magazine employs porn legend, Ron Jeremy as Porn Director and includes Tanner Meyes as Sex Editor.

Adult Magazines: The Future?

As for the future of adult magazines? The fact remains that the internet can provide only so much when it comes to fulfilling the demand for content and adult magazines are a tangible and private way to enjoy both erotic and hardcore imagery. The focus varies by title but all of those publications still in existence appeal to an audience that doesn’t want to sit in front of their laptop searching endless results for suitable material. Some prefer the idea that their search history won’t be sullied whilst others are sick of the overly graphic and explicit content they find.

The internet is a noisy place and adult magazines offer a calm and restorative way to enjoy legalised porn from the comfort of your own home. The benefits of printed material over the web mean magazines will never lose a WiFi connection at just the wrong time.

As aficionados of the printed celebration of porn we hope that the ritual of furtively reaching for those top shelf magazines is a pleasure that isn’t denied the next generation.

Staff Writer

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