Loaded magazine: the finest features (part one)

Ten of Loaded’s most divine features that made the magazine a British publishing sensation.

Loaded magazine finest features searching for Jesus
The holy grail of publishing One of Loaded’s finest features sent ‘three not very wise men’ in search of Jesus. Image Picture Mario Tama/Getty Images

Soul-searching piss-ups, a quest to find Jesus and the world cups of crisps and breakfast cereal. Just some of the investigative journalism in the finest features from the magazine’s glory days.

 


 

1

Wine Tasting: Into The Valley Of The Ponce
July 1994

This was a high-minded investigation by Loaded’s staff feature writer Martin Deeson. (His first probing article in the magazine’s debut issue got to the bottom of the joys of hotel sex.) Two months later, he got away with proposing a feature where he investigated drinking. It led him to the Oddbins wine tasting of 200 wines at London’s Park Lane Hotel and the results surprised the intrepid reporter, who admitted he had been expecting ‘a quiet room filled with ponces in smoking jackets’. He was pleasantly shocked to see ‘prostate bodies lying in the hallways’ and debauchery. In a bid not to appear rude, he was soon knocking back Bollinger, lighting up cigarettes indoors and telling people if they bared their arses he’d include them in his story. They obliged. 

2

The Crisp World Cup
September 1994

An office dispute over the merits of Kettle Chips compared with Walkers led to Loaded’s inaugural Crisp World Cup. Editor James Brown, deputy ed Tim Southwell and writers Martin Deeson, Adam Levi and ‘Filthy’ Clark were the crisp connoisseurs with the task of determining the best. Early favourites for the final included Walkers cheese and onion and Pringles original. In the battle of the divisive prawn cocktail flavour, Tavern prawn cocktail triumphed over Golden Wonder – as they decided Golden Wonder’s fish option ‘smelt like shite and tasted worse’. After a tense tournament, the competition drew to a drunken close with calls being made to cab companies near crisp factories to judge who had the best answerphone (they couldn’t get through to the crisp factories.) McCoy’s crisps were named No 1. The decision was as much to do with Loaded’s tasting team deciding they were too off their faces and on the verge of puking to manage sampling any more varieties. 

3

Capital Punishment: By Drinking
April 1995

Martin Deeson was considered the best man to send to Dublin to attempt something not even Dubliners would try – drinking in 40 pubs in one day. Packing just a hangover, Deeson and a photographer landed in Ireland in a bid to complete what the woman in the local tourist office said would be “impossible”. They bumped into Paula Yates at the airport, missing a world exclusive in the process (News Of The World reported the day after Deeson landed she had split from husband Bob Geldof.) Deeson tried to take it easy – drinking half pints of Guinness in each pub. It worked and the fearless adventurer managed to hit all 40 establishments. Deeson vowed to complete the entire route in reverse the next day, before he passed out. That didn’t happen. 

4

Piss-up In A Brewery
June 1995

Somewhat predictably, the Loaded team once endeavored to discover if they could organise a piss up in a brewery. Turns out it proved more difficult than it sounded and they had to (yes, had to) go further afield to Prague to complete the mission. Highlights from their organizing of a piss-up in an actual brewery included a rejection letter from a Guinness boss. It read, ‘I can’t have you drinking near the copper barrels’.

5

The World Cup Of Breakfast Cereals
November 1995

Following on from the Crisp World Cup, Loaded set out on a quest to determine which breakfast cereal was the finest. Five members of the editorial team lined up 35 cereals for the competition. They took it seriously, with Coco Pops finding itself in a tie against Fruit ’n Fibre. The eventual final was between Ricicles and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, with Ricicles emerging as the controversial victor.

6

Caribbean Capers: Loaded’s Ladies Get Sizzled In Antigua
March 1996

This edition saw Jenny Eclair guest edit and the ladies of Loaded were dutifully dispatched on a “work” assignment to the Caribbean. Kathy Lloyd joined writer Barbara Ellen and a group of others for the trip. The plane had barely taken off when a staffer called Liz made her way to the cockpit and flashed the pilots. They clearly liked what they saw, and invited the group back in to the cockpit for landing. When they landed, there were frequent visits to a club named Fingers. Lloyd was, predictably, a ‘sitting duck for every dull, besotted would-be Romeo in Antigua’. Numerous ‘blow job’ cocktails later and having stripped and tied photographer Steve Perry to a bed, the ladies headed back to Gatwick, knocking back Bloody Marys and champagne on the flight.

7

Dodgy Business In Jamaica
August 1996

Journalist John Perry and photographer Lawrence Watson were faced with the not unenviable task of spending four days in Jamaica with Dodgy on their latest video shoot. After a strenuous day filming by a swimming pool, the group found themselves at a Jamaican petrol stop, where they discovered you could buy drugs. The piece said, ‘We end up paying an outrageous amount for something you can’t usually buy at a garage. The result? A posse of Sambuca’d-up white boys, staggering around grinning like loons, showing their arses and pissing on the side of a garage covered in Yardie death threat graffiti’. Surprisingly, they made it back alive. 

8

Loaded: Anarchy In The UK Tour
February 1997

Four members of the editorial team set off on a promotional tour of the UK to speak to readers about life at the magazine. Things proceeded as one might have expected, with Martin Deeson ‘embarking on a week long bender that took him from Dutch courage to double Dutch’ in preparation for the tour. Luckily for the half-cut journalists, Kathy Lloyd and Jo Guest had agreed to go along for five nights and entertain the punters. Bez also agreed to go along, joining ‘a tourbus that was already so laden with loose cannons it made the cast of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest look like The Brady Bunch.’ The account of the week-long tour concludes with the mention of additional reporting, ‘by anyone who could remember anything in the office’.

9

Jesus – Look At That…
January 1996

Three ‘not very wise berks’ were sent to Bethlehem to track down Jesus. Loaded’s trio ‘ran around the most sacred sites in Palestinian head gear shouting, “Oi mate, have you seen Jesus?”’. The threesome wound up staying in a convent in Bethlehem, before having a random encounter with The Devils director Ken Russell at The Church of the Nativity. When an earthquake struck, the reporters decided it was God warning them, ‘Loaded, go home’. They obeyed.

10

Drinks For The Board
February 1996

Loaded had the ingenious idea to take to the streets of London on a Monopoly Pub Crawl – a challenge that would involve visiting 26 pubs in 12 hours. Remembering he was on a work expedition during the challenge, Martin Deeson requested a receipt from the barman in Old Kent Road for expenses, only to be told, “Yeah, I’ll write it on your bollocks”. The evening concluded with a cab driver telling Deeson, “You want to get a proper job, mate”.

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Loaded’s entertainment editor Jennifer O’Brien is an award-winning journalist who has written extensively about popular culture as a national newspaper columnist and author. Follow her on Twitter at @Jen_OBrien1

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