Getting drunk with Tony Blair, taking heroin because a pair of dice said so and a Heather Mills Pornalike. We conclude our looks at Loaded’s finest features.
Gambling With Grannies
The headline pretty much says it all. The idea was born after someone in an editorial meeting declared “Bingo is the new rock and roll”.
Writer Roger Morton ventured out to investigate. He noted in one bingo hall: ‘You can see why people keep their eyes down. The décor in the main hall is kind of vom-spatter pastels’. Morton and his photographer pissed off 1,400 women in one of Britain’s biggest bingo halls after they started to Tippex numbers off their bingo cards. They were ejected.
The magazine decided bingo was more hardcore than poker, with the score Grannies 1 Loaded 0.
Loaded Goes Barging
Martin Deeson and a team of Loaded writers embarked on a three-day barging journey complete with ‘big poles, wet, dark tunnels, fishy smells and a life ring the size of Cheshire’. Deeson mused, ‘Drive long enough on the canals and you always end up where the fish have two heads.’ He also warned, ‘If you are going on a canal holiday looking to get laid, then you’d better take a bird as we saw no women in the whole of our three days’.
The company who lent Loaded a boat must have been thrilled when he concluded, ‘Canals are great if you’re the sort of person who likes drifting along with only, “How far it is it to the next pub?” to worry about. But for some people four miles an hour is the equivalent of living death, so you’d be better off getting a dirty great outboard motor, slapping it on the back and really making some waves’.
Getting Pissed With The PM
Martin Deeson was dispatched to the Labour and Tory conferences in 1996 to seek out answers to pressing queries including: will there be 24-hour licensing before the year 2000? Deeson was again only armed with a hangover – and a photo pass – as he set off to give Jeremy Paxman a run for his money.
His first observation at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool was that the people at the Labour Party Conference were ‘very, very ugly’. Before long, Deeson felt at home, noting, ‘The MPs and delegates, journos and party workers booze it up so much it’s like being on tour with Metallica’. One drunk MP, who insisted on anonymity, said the main differences between the Tory and Labour conferences was, “At Labour we get drunk. The Tories have sex and the Lib Dems talk politics”.
Upon finally meeting Blair, Deeson decided he had ‘all the charisma of a nervous hairdresser and the perma-smile sincerity of a toothpaste model’. Cornering Prime Minister John Major at the Tory conference wasn’t much easier. Deeson ended up chasing him down a street after watching him blag a free meal at Harry Ramsden’s.
The Dice Man
Taking inspiration from Luke Rhinehart’s cult novel imagining a life’s choices decided by the roll of a dice, journalist Ben Marshall decided to follow suit. Unfortunately for him, after just two rolls of the dice he landed on instructions to, ‘Work on a heroin habit’.
He wrote, ‘Heroin didn’t frighten me. Not much, anyway. The people who sell heroin, on the other hand – they scare the shit out of me’. After trying heroin laced with speed while holed up in a dingy boozer, Marshall started suffering panic attacks, followed by a huge comedown.
He resolved to be ‘a little more sensible’ with future dice rolling. He wasn’t.
The Dice Man
Having arrived in Hollywood with his girlfriend, Ben Marshall once again scribbled out six choices on a notepad and vowed to live his life by rolls of the dice. His first roll Stateside was saw him having to hang around a gay bar and hit on some punters. It was only when girlfriend Nikki joined in the dice game that the wheels began to come off.
Her first throw resulted in her auditioning as a stripper, taking off her clothes during a dance for a man named Emilio and getting the job, leaving Marshall feeling ‘truly sick’ at the thought of his beloved’s new occupation.
Dice Man Versus The Pope
Ben Marshall had to go to confession to tell of the most disgusting sins he could could dream up. After concocting a story about how he’d shagged his dog, the dice led him to a Catholic church where a priest gave him six forms of penance for bestiality.
Loaded got more serious in 2015. Scourge of the football hooligan Donal MacIntyre revealed the average person brushes shoulders with six murderers on their way to work each day, with 20,000 killers walking Britain’s streets. The TV investigator claimed you are never more than 400 meters from a convicted killer in London.
Among the other regulars from Loaded’s 21 years, favourites included the Greatest Living Englishman. It anointed men including Oliver Reed and the it-turns-out-now-he-was-not-so-great Stuart Hall as Britain’s best.
Platinum Rogues – The ‘Premier League of Bad Behaviour’ column nominated the most glorious bad-lads of the month. Dennis The Menace appeared in November 1994 for ‘smashing windows, hitting people on the back of the head with pea-shooters and nicking pies’. Serial rogue Peter O’Toole landed the top spot in July 1996 for turning up on the David Letterman show astride a camel, telling the host, “You must excuse me while I water my noble transport”. Rod Stewart also showed up after revealing The Faces would have shagged “anything with a pulse… anything that hadn’t been dead for more than 24 hours”.
Loaded’s co-creator Mick Bunnage gave some not exactly helpful advice as Dr Mick, where readers sent in their queries ‘for a caring, compassionate reply’. Most of the time he wasn’t arsed with empathy. Bunnage also created the Office Pest cartoon series in Loaded with Jon Link. The pair went on to create a website called shitflap.com in 2003 before creating the Modern Toss cartoons.
Charlie Brooker’s TVGoHome spoof telly listings was where Nathan Barley first appeared. The Hedonist’s Handbook carried Britain’s funniest club and pub reviews and Sophistication Station took the piss out of the month’s cultural offerings.
Pornalikes was another Loaded staple which saw readers send in images of porn stars who looked like celebrities. June 2008 saw a ’50 Funniest Pornalikes’ feature in the issue, with appearances from ‘Sir Alan Sugar’, ‘Jim Davidson’ – and a one-legged ‘Heather Mills’.
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