Over the past few months, several esteemed individuals and people I look up to and respect from my industry -- namely men’s publishing -- have spoken out saying they regret the roles they’ve played in the men’s press.
What I believe they’re referring to is the part they played in the “exploitation” of women.
I’ve spent the better part of my adult life working for the likes of FHM when it was at its peak and also Nuts magazine, a massively popular young blokes' mag.
I’ve played a serious hand in the breast situation on these titles, and I have absolutely no regrets.
The feminists amongst you might frown upon me, for simply being tied to these publications. Some of you, especially those who are familiar with the ongoing dreary Mumsnet campaign to have Nuts magazine placed on the top shelf of newsagents, might think I’m setting the sisterhood back several decades, as I’ve supposedly helped objectify women.
But I’ll take that view with a mighty pinch of salt, because I know what goes on behind the scenes, and it’s not half as tawdry as you imagine.
I should probably explain the roles I’ve played in these jobs. During my time at FHM, I wrote their sex column called Girls on the Sofa. I had to round up groups of hot women, arrange a photoshoot and encourage them to talk filth, all for the titillation of our readers.
I’m going to be brutally honest; otherwise what’s the point in writing this? Sometimes a group of girls showed up and they weren’t lookers, so we had to bin the shoots. I would tell them the photgrapher exposed the film, or something went wrong with my recording. This happened probably twice.
What I’m saying is, the girls had to be good looking to be in the magazine. But of course they did! Just the same as you don’t get ugly models in campaigns.
This was about excitement, real life girly chat, for blokes to read, learn about us women (sexually) and probably get off at the same time.
Wine was also provided for the girls, to help them loosen up for the photos (they were dressed in their own clothes but had their hair and makeup done by professionals), and to help loosen their tongues, too.
If a girl ever said something she felt was too lewd, followed by "Don’t print that," I never did. Every single girl left these shoots having had a fantastic day.
I also organised several porn star shoots for supplements we produced. Again, I have no regrets, although I did find elements of this world particularly grotty.
I arranged a Porn Stars on the Sofa shoot where I questioned British porn girls about their careers and what actually went down, so to speak, on set.
It was during one of these meetings I met a young looking adult actress who did the hardcore stuff – double anal to be more precise.
She was a really sad character and not happy working in the industry, but she’d got stuck there and couldn’t get out. I felt so bad for her, but what could I do? I certainly made sure she was treated well by us -- afterward she said she’d had a great time and felt like Royalty.
One of the most eye-opening projects I worked on was helping to launch the concept "Real Girls."
I assisted on the very first High Street Honeys campaign, which was basically girls next door sending in their photos in the hopes of becoming an FHM coverstar.
What started out as small panel in the magazine became a phenomenon -- it was, (just as reality TV was exploding on to our screens) the chance for girls to secure their 15 minutes of fame.
For one of the High Street Honey supplements, I had to travel to major cities and interview just over 100 girls to see who the contenders were; call me the Simon Cowell of the Real Girl world of yesteryear.
Now, I know I said I had no regrets, but here is when I do have one. I interviewed over 100 girls and one of the questions I asked was who their idol was.
Over 70 of them said Jordan and that they wanted to be a footballer's wife. This saddened me. They seemed to think Jordan had "come from nothing" and made her way to the top.
I had no problem with them aspiring to be models, but for them to want to be like Jordan herself made me shudder.
I also had to ask how much nudity these girls were prepared to do -- topless or not? We took some professional shots of them, and told them we’d be in touch to let them know if they’d made it through.
All of these girls were there because they wanted to be. None of them were coerced into going topless -- if they were not comfortable, they simply had to say so.
Over at my current role at Nuts, I’m privy to seeing lots of girls topless who send their pictures in with the hopes of being in the magazine. I only ever feel bad for these girls when I spot a really bad boob job, of which there are many.
We frequently have models in the office, and one visit sticks in my mind very clearly, quite simply because it was hilarious.
Two topless models were in the office where we had their bodies painted to look as though they were wearing T-shirts. (They were just wearing knickers and brilliant smiles.)
These girls were bouncing around the office in all their painted topless glory, brimming with confidence, yet the guys in my office didn’t know where to look.
As well as being completely abashed, they were also totally respectful -- as they always are to any girls that feature in Nuts.
When people discover where I work, they often ask “Would you let your daughter become a topless model?” I expect it’s easy for me to answer, cause right now she’s only three years old.
But if she wanted to be a model (dang if she has my boobs, she has no chance) and she had the career potential of the likes of Lucy Pinder, who’s a very savvy, smart and a hugely successful (not to mention wealthy) glamour model, then why not?
At the end of the day, they’re just boobs.