Ping! An email arrives with news from inside Loaded headquarters talking about producing an issue with hardly any staff (“one full time writer working alongside a junior designer”), a lack of investment, and morale at, unsurprisingly, subterranean levels. My correspondent was particularly struck by the embarrassment that is the magazine’s latest cover.
You have to feel sorry for poor old Loaded. Once a title that sold nearly half a million copies an issue and which established a whole new category of publishing, it was dumped by IPC to the supremely dodgy Vitality Publishing whose own fire sale of assets passed the title to Paul Baxendale-Walker, a character for whom the epithet ‘colourful’ hardly does justice.
Whether you liked the content or not, the early Loaded was a product that had energy, wit, daring and flair. Unfortunately its later iterations, and the me-too publications that were spawned, failed to capture this spirit, each product chasing the others down to the bottom of the market.
And sales have followed suit. Down, down, down have gone the sales for FHM, Nuts, Zoo and the others; it’s a category in terminal decline.
The most telling fact is that whether Loaded survives for six months or six years longer is an irrelevance to almost everybody. Where once it was admired, hated, copied and discussed, it is now ignored or pitied, which is a tragedy of sorts.