Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Remember (t)his?

I surely do. Before FHM landed here and stirred all sorts of, um, discomfort, this little magazine shocked and delighted (alert) Malaysian males during its one-year existence some 10 years ago.

First off, look at that cheeky masthead. That’s a sperm dotting the ‘i’. A sperm!

Now, read the cover-lines of the inaugural issue above. ‘Do women masturbate?’ ‘Wet Dreams’. ‘Andrea’s Ready To Play. What About You?’. Holy it’s-so-not-appropriate-for-conservative-Malaysia, Batman! And yes, the articles WERE as saucy as the cover-lines wanted people to believe!

That issue also featured a 10-page swimsuit pictorial shot in – would you believe it – Templer Park.
So it was no wonder that the editor Ms Helena Hon was hauled up by the almighty KDN. The sperm disappeared after issue 3 (boo! hiss!) and the saucy stuff was then greatly minimized, to put it mildly.

Helena’s a good friend of mine who worked for Men’s Review (MR) before launching EM (Exclusively Male) in 1995, a classy men’s mag that had Esquire ambitions. She was the one who gave me my first break so to speak, by hiring me as a freelancer writer (and model, in fact; but more of that some other time).

After EM came to an abrupt end (magazines generally have a rather short lifespan here in Malaysia), I remember her talking about producing a completely different sort of men’s mag – a straight up trashy and sexy rag with no apologies attached. And that’s what Helena eventually came up with in the form of ‘his’, which was short for ‘his intellectual supplement’. Yeah, the irony was indeed intended.

She also managed to convince quite a number of big-name babes to grace the cover including Paula Malai Ali, Camelia and Lina Teoh. I doubt if Camelia would even think about posing for such a rag now, seeing how she’s turned into a style icon.

Oh yeah, that inaugural issue with all those fantastic features and pictures sold out within days and had to be re-printed; something that doesn’t happen that often in the local publishing industry. The mamak vendors were truly happy.

I wrote the occasional feature story for ‘his’ and maintained a regular column called Dry Wit, using a pseudonym though, since I had a different sort of day job back then. I will definitely post some of the pieces here in the future.

For now, I’m thinking of putting that classic first issue up for auction. Bidding starts at RM100. Anyone?

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