• Nipples, nipples, everywhere you look. (Shane Cubis)Source: Shane Cubis
It's just like any other job, really. Sort of.
By
Shane Cubis

8 Sep 2017 - 4:25 PM  UPDATED 29 Mar 2018 - 3:07 PM

Back in 2005, when I was about to turn 25, I started my first job in publishing. I went straight from the call centre to the loving arms of the P-mags, where work involved ringing girl-next-door glamours to ask about their sex lives, writing about naked celebs and coming up with as many hilarious puns as humanly possible.

But if you’re picturing the office of People, Picture or Penthouse as a dank dungeon where every surface is sticky... it’s not exactly like that. The offices are pretty well lit, actually.

It’s not all creepy guys on staff. There are creepy women, too...

In the “men’s interest” magazines I worked on, the ratio of men to women was almost equal – and apart from a few exceptions on either side of the gender divide, they were all filthy. One of the main differences involved picture selection for layouts. The guys would tend to choose shots that accentuated boobs or bum, while the women would point out that a certain photo gave the model a double chin or weird face.

Nipple blindness is definitely a real thing

When you spend your entire work day working on pages covered with photos of topless and/or bottomless women, it becomes as normal as any other job. Which means, in the long run, it’s possible not to notice someone is baring their breasts. Which means, in the longer run, you can freak yourself out... especially if you picture your teenage self shaking his head sadly. The good news is it wears off after you spend some time working on a gossip mag instead.

It isn’t as easy as it looks...

As part of my job interview at People, I had to ring one of the Model Citizens who had sent in her nude photos. Surrounded by strangers – who were definitely listening – I rang to ask “Imogen” from the Gold Coast about her hobbies (AFL and painting), Hollywood crush (Vin Diesel) and favourite bath toy (bubble bath, on a technicality). Imogen was pretty easygoing, but some of the interviews were monosyllabically brutal - and that’s before you have your work decimated by super-intelligent sub-editors for not being funny and sexy in equal measure.

... but it’s also heaps of fun

Like all workplaces, things can get heated and angsty between staff members, especially when it’s deadline and the UK photo agency hasn’t given approval on the tastefully fleshy images for your cover image yet. That’s when it was most important to take a step back and remind everyone that not only did we get paid to put out a magazine that was entirely based around nudity and dumb jokes, but that we could go to the pub every Friday for a “staff meeting”. Plus, you know, you could watch porn at work if you wanted to. Which you probably wouldn’t, on account of the nipple blindness.

It’s the perfect training ground for media work

You can scoff, but the subbing is far more rigorous on these mags than anywhere else I’ve worked. It has to be when you’re working with this material. If you’ve ever had a stripper’s furious boyfriend threaten to come down to the office over what he perceives as a misquote, you’ll understand the need - and that’s before we get into acceptable forms of ID from models. Putting out a weekly magazine on a shoestring budget, and making it as funny and contemporary as possible is no mean feat, and it has held me in good stead for every job I’ve done since.

 

For a close look at the porn industry, watch the documentary Pornocracy on Sunday 10 September at 9:25pm on SBS VICELAND.

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