It’s a question tormenting men’s magazine editors around the world: how do you get noticed, and make a buck, in an era when the smutty content you specialise in is only a mouse-click away? Former powerhouse FHM published its last edition in May; Ralph was closed in July 2010. ACP’s Zoo Weekly, launched to great fanfare in 2006, has shed over 50% of its circulation since July 2011.
Perhaps politics made s-xy — and more than a little crass — is the key to keeping the grim reaper away.
Following last month’s asylum-seeker boat tragedies — and impassioned House of Representatives debate — Zoo has been offering its own, inimitable take on the divisive issue. First, the mag offered to house the next boatload of asylum seekers in its office if Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young agreed to front up for a “tasteful” bikini or lingerie shoot.
“If Sarah Hanson-Young wants more asylum seekers on Australian shores, then this is one way to make sure they keep coming,” Zoo wrote. “We know she’ll have her knockers if she agrees, but we’re confident she’ll realise it’s good for the country.”
Hanson-Young didn’t take the bait, so the mag Photoshopped her face onto a busty model’s body.
Then, last week, the magazine ran a competition to find “Australia’s hottest asylum seeker”.
“Are you a refugee not even the immigration minister could refuse?” asked Zoo. “Then we want to see you! We’re looking for Oz’s hottest asylum seeker, so if you’ve swapped persecution for s-xiness, we want to shoot you (with a camera — relax!) Send your pics and a short story about your tragic past to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Crikey contacted Zoo editor Tim Keen this morning to see whether the mag has received any responses, but no one at Zoo HQ was picking up their phones.
The accompanying double-page spread — illustrated by images of Anglo-Saxon babes on luxury yachts — also offered the reader useful factoids including: “One in every 25 boat people dies making it to our shores.” In the main image, one buxom seafarer says: “We could be assets to this country.”
“Yes, big assets …” replies her pal.
A harmless bit of fun? Or a s-xist, xenophobic outrage? We report, you decide.