In September 2005, an 18-year-old Keeley Hazell appeared on the cover of FHM. It was - obviously - a beautiful moment. But it was also just one of many triumphs in the first half of the noughties that made the FHM office the best of its kind anywhere on the planet. Here's why...
The ‘How To Kill Dogs’ letter
Like some saggy, hessian Pandora’s box, the FHM postbag has oft released evil unto the world. From the pictures of a reader holding a gun to his cock in a photo kiosk, to the snap of a man crapping on a lettuce atop Mont Blanc, the FHM staff, along with Her Majesty’s Constabulary, have balked at the menagerie of enveloped failings. Until the one that topped them all: Essex man Bruce Clarke’s guide to killing dogs. A 48-page illustrated guide to murdering canines “who bark too much” in your neighbourhood, from “the dynamite bone”, to the less-inventive “bazooka (sic) under the chin”. Compared to this, the pastel chalk drawings of a corset-clad reader having sex with his mum was actually quite nice.
FHM banned from Thailand
Who knew that photographing genitally-mutilated she-males could be so problematic? Envisaged as a practical joke on you, the FHM reader, our plan to snap six post- and pre-op Thai transsexuals went awry when they went illegally topless on Pattaya Beach. After an actual car chase back to Bangkok – where police had surrounded our hotel – we hid out in a secret den outside the city until our lawyers and the British consulate got the cops to reduce their requested £30,000 “bail” money. To this day, the passport numbers of three staffers are still “flagged” on Thai Immigration computers...
Reader pays £104 for a bucket of water
Duping cyber-auctioneers eBay into selling our office tat seemed the perfect combination of space-filler and money-maker. But the internet can be treacherous: soon, rumours abounded that The Independent was bidding for A Day In The Office – scaring us into bidding £5,100 against ourselves to keep the office free from dusty, middle-aged men. And then an unlikely hero emerged: 26-year-old Kyle Thompson, an electronic engineer from Woking, who happily bid £104 for... a bucket of office tap water. “Look, I didn’t mean to actually win,” moaned Kyle, arriving at the office to collect his “prize”. “This other bloke kept pushing the bid up, so I wanted to see how far he’d go. It’s a kind of internet Russian roulette...”
Staffer fends off rape by ostrich
It’s tricky enough mounting a 140kg ostrich – especially when, as during the The Gambler series of features, there’s hard cash riding on the outcome. And yet it’s ever more challenging if you arrive at the South African bird farm during mating season. And you’re wearing a black and white tuxedo. And you bend over to tie your shoe in the middle of the holding pen. Take it from us: ostriches are neither the most romantic of lovers, nor easy to run away from.
Eye claim angers Chancellor
Printing that Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has only one eye (his other prodded out playing rugby aged 15) requires verification even at FHM. Phoning the Treasury press office, they spinelessly put us straight through to his private office, where a nameless deputy angrily threatens to “send some people round” to check what we’re writing. A ten-minute stand-up row later, and we decide to print it regardless. But what’s more worrying: our slapdash journalism, or the fact the three most powerful men in the country only have three working eyes between them?
We lick drugs off Lemmy’s finger
It was just a quick trip to LA to interview the stilton-faced Motörhead man. What we hadn’t reckoned on, however, was our writer’s childhood hero worship, and it was mere minutes before Features Ed Ross Brown was tumbling into the Lemster’s murky world. It began with the offer of paying for a lapdance... and ended nine hours later at Lemmy’s pad with the denim-clad growler dressing Ross in WW2 Nazi memorabilia and offering him speed from the tip of his finger...
We deliver the hottest girls next door
(2002 to present day)
Bark “Honey!” down the corridors of FHM Towers and you’ll evoke a wild array of emotions. Some will proudly bicker about which one of us actually invented High Street Honeys, while others will simply salivate, clawing at the next batch of sweet honey post. Such mayhem can only hint at the sheer magnitude of our adoration for our annual High Street Honeys poll – since it launched in 2002, HSH has apparently generated £4 million worth of free PR. More importantly, we’ve had more than 10,000 scantily clad entries to ogle. Our first winner, Tanya Robinson bought a bar and a nightclub with her FHM profits.
FHM girl too sexy for Bush
When our victorious 2003 FHM Student Krystle Gohel was thrust by The Sun into Page Three nakedness, the world (not just brickies) took note. Over in America, the Yanks simply couldn’t believe that the inky Brit red-top had devoted as much space to our Krystle as they had President George Bush – and printed a front-page tirade about it. Funny that – little Krystle on the cover of The Washington Post, and her dad still doesn’t know she whaps ’em out. Bless.
The Buffalo-Horn Beetle Judo Throw
Gladiatorial conflict has never been so violently thrilling. Or so… small. Niftily skirting around animal cruelty laws, FHM assembled an international platoon of insects to fight to the death – for nothing more than our baying, bloodthirsty amusement. And yet of all our Insect Gladiators, most vicious of all was the eventual winner: the Malaysian Buffalo-Horn beetle. Two inches long and very, very angry, how we screamed in excitement as it rounded on the seven-inch Ghanaian Fire Millipede, hissed contemptuously – and body-slammed him into the sand, like an entomological Brett “The Hitman” Hart.
We beam Gail Porter’s arse onto Parliament
Combining those reliable old FHM standbys – outrageous public nudity, a sinister disrespect for democracy – was far too tempting to pass up. And yet, as our unmarked blue transit van pulled up on Westminster Bridge one cool evening in May 1999, it could have been so different... “The projector unit looked like a missile launcher,” remembers Nial Ferguson, marketing manager at the time. “A 500 watt searchlight, rigged up to a generator, pointed at the British seat of government for around half an hour. At midnight, the police van rolled up – but they just laughed, and told us to hurry up. Can’t see that happening now…”
But even after generating us an estimated £4m worth of global coverage – and earning us the prestigious “Stunt of the Decade” title at some Ad Awards thingy – the subject herself wasn’t too chuffed. Ms Porter even later complained it wasn’t her derriere – which is weird, as it’s visibly attached to the bottom of her spine. “But the editor helped her see the funny side of it,” says Nial. “And in the end, it made her even more famous – plus it’s something to tell her grandkids about.” And us? Galvanised by such success, we attempted the same the following year – including beaming Britney’s sweet visage onto the side of Eton. It was a lesson in timing: the number of people who cared? Approximately zero. Hey-ho.