Token Bloke

1 year ago by in Columns, Men

Token Bloke

Michael Hogan says goodbye to More! magazine, where he wrote, laughed and tested implausible sex positions for money.

This well-appointed website isn’t the first time I’ve been “Token Bloke”. I was also TB at the first consumer magazine I was lucky enough to land a job on: the mighty More!. I worked there from 1994 (“nineteen-ninety-phwoar”, we called it) until 1996 (you guessed it, “nineteen-ninety-sex”).

Sadly, More!’s closure was announced this week. The news brought back a Proustian rush of memories. Being one of three male members of staff out of 30. The office ringing to the sounds of cackling women, pounding pop on the stereo and bottles of Hooch being opened on the stroke of 6pm. Nipping to the pub across the road for a pee on the afternoon of staff parties because the office loos were hogged by girls getting ready. Editing the legendary “Position Of The Fortnight” and, when we did a special full-page, gymnastically elaborate position for the 200th issue – a manoeuvre called “The Twister” – having to get down on the office carpet with the female sub-editor and check it was anatomically possible. Fully clothed, I hasten to add. And it was just about possible, provided you were a yoga-trained Russian gymnast, he had an eye-wateringly flexible penis, your bedroom was structurally sound and the neighbours were deaf.

So what did I learn from those heady days of alcopops, Britpop and Token Blokehood? That women en masse are just as filthy and witty as men, if not more so. That contrary to popular myth, an office full of women isn’t bitchy and backstabby but warm, supportive and sisterly. And that no team anywhere has a better, boozier, funnier time than 27 young women and three slightly terrified (but mainly loving it) blokes.

All this made it all the more infuriating this week when certain feminist factions gloated over More!’s demise, just because it didn’t fit into their narrow, elitist and rather joyless worldview. Regardless of your politics, a bunch of skilled people losing their jobs is never something to celebrate. Especially if they’re mainly women in an extremely tough industry and you purport to be a feminist (as would any More! staff member, I’d wager).

Besides, I genuinely believe that magazines for young women back then – More!, Just 17 (which I also worked on), Sugar, Bliss and Minx – were a tremendous force for good. They didn’t snark at other women, make readers feel rubbish about themselves or gleefully put red rings round celebrity cellulite. Instead we were the reader’s slightly older, more worldly-wise best friend – full of high street fashion and beauty, saucy sex tips, problem-solving agony columns, smart careers advice, shirtless men to ogle and most of all, cheeky humour.

We tried to make sure women were well-informed and confident, always used condoms (whenever and with whomever they chose to have sex), looked the best they could, knew that their mates were more important than rubbish men and had a great time all of the time. Judging by More!’s bulging mailbag and buoyant sales – we were selling well over 1m copies a month at our peak – we largely succeeded. But times have changed and the digital age of young women getting their celebrity fix from Mail Online; or Perez Hilton, TMZ, Twitter and a host of other less-regulated gossip sites means that mags like More! struggle to maintain their position (ahem). It’s certainly not feminism that won today – it’s the Sidebar of Shame that triumphed.

So R.I.P. More! magazine, condolences to its readers (it’s always horrible when you lose your favourite mag) and good luck to its team. If my experience was anything to go by – and I suspect little has changed – they’re talented, hard-working and now a bit heartbroken. But they’ll bounce back, go on to big things and remember More! as some of the best days – not just of their career, but of their life. Ignore the haterz, More! girls and Token Blokes, and have a Hooch on me.

Michael Hogan

Michael Hogan is a writer and editor. He writes regularly on TV & Radio for The Telegraph.

  • Published: 5 posts
  • http://www.facebook.com/marina.gaskajani Marina Gask-Ajani

    A lovely and fitting tribute, Mr Hogan. Blub.

  • Kath GTL

    I loved More and Just 17, it’s a sad day.

  • Rachel Grundy

    Well said, Michael.

  • Kate J

    I agree that this is a lovely tribute and it’s sad that people have lost their jobs. But disagree about the likes of such magazines making readers feel good about themselves. Let’s be honest – More was utter trash, produced cliched content and did draw on the insecurities of women with articles like ‘ten ways to keep your man’ or ‘ten signs he’s cheating’.

    • http://twitter.com/katbrown82 Kat Brown

      I think the point is that when he was working there (1994 to 1996) it was a kinder magazine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicola.ridingswatson Nicola Ridings Watson

    At some point before I cark it I’m going to try my best to actually disagree with something that Hogan writes. Today is not that day.

  • Emily Murray

    Best place I ever worked. Thanks for the mammaries.

  • http://twitter.com/iamalisonperry Alison Perry

    As an ex staffer myself, this made me feel a bit emosh. Well put.

  • Fi Nightingale

    :( Good work, Hoges.

  • Gemma Turner

    I loved working at more! for four years and this made me cry and laugh! Thank you Michael xx

  • Becky Howard

    Fantastic words about the latest in a long line of epic titles to bite the dust. Very sad

  • katycoo

    my dad refused to buy me more! when i was in hospital because he said it was pornographic, my mum stuck up with me “but Dave it’s educational and kind”

  • gaz

    marie did get away with her leather kecks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/helen.roberts.140193 Helen Roberts

    Perfectly said :)

  • http://twitter.com/Pat_McNulty Pat_McNulty

    Love it Michael! Wonder if I ever encountered you there during your token blokehood – remember hanging out there one Friday night when a pal was doing work experience. Needless to say, it was raucous.

  • Charlie O’Connor

    I loved More! when I was growing up and am sorry to see it’s demise.
    More from Token Bloke please!

  • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.azzopardi Suzanne Azzopardi

    This just nails it really. I remember reading it, thinking it was liberating and it was great knowing that others had as much of a filthy mind as me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emma.crisp.37 Emma Crisp

    I think its really sad that we seem to be over the golden age of magazines. I read all the womens magazines in the 90s when i was a girl trying to be a woman (and failing!) and i always found the magazines back then less scathing of women, and just more fun than the horrible slant magazines like Heat and Closer are taking, in which is pulling women apart and making people feel bad about themselves. I am sad to see More go as it was always a giggle back in the 90′s and 00′s, but i think it had sadly lost its way and there are far too many magazines in print that say and do the same thing. RIP More.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wendy.rigg1 Wendy Rigg

    You didn’t mention the time you dressed up as a gameshow host, named Loose Foreskin, for a
    more! conference. Aw Hogie, this beautiful piece of writing makes me feel so sad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rachel.askham.king Rachel Elizabeth King

    Magazines and music meant everything when I was a teenager. It’s a lovely tribute, Michael.

  • Cuntpuffin

    I loved more years ago, haven’t read it recently though. Did they do position of the fortnight right upto the end?

  • Steph Stevens

    Lovely tribute Hogey