Whitehouse magazine first went to press in 1974. It was named after the anti-porn campaigner Mary Whitehouse and was the second magazine in the up and coming David Sullivan magazine empire.
Whitehouse completely changed the landscape of the British top shelf as it featured girls holding their vagina wide open which in the trade is known as a pink or tube shot. Sullivan also crossed the line with some issues even having actual insertions of vibrators or other phallic symbols such as cucumbers. It’s hardly surprising that he received more Section 3 confiscation orders than any other publisher.
Sullivan’s first feature model for Whitehouse was aptly named Mary Whitehouse but he really hit gold when Mary Millington took over the reins. Millington first appeared in Private magazine, which was Sullivan’s first magazine on the shelves but by 1976 every spotted youth knew the name Mary Millington. Mayfair and Men Only was reading for your dad, but Whitehouse was teenage wanking material of the highest order and filled in the gaps that schools sex education lessons glossed over.
Early editions of the mag were printed with a heavy card cover, in colour and varnished but inside they were still heavy with black and white photographs and text taking up a large part of the overall magazine.
From the above description it is obvious that the magazine was unacceptable to the main stream news distributors, W H Smiths and John Menzies, and independent newsagents who considered themselves reputable also shied away from stocking the mag. Sullivan realized that you can’t sell a product that can’t enter the standard distribution chain but he’d already figured that out and was steadily building a chain of sex shops across the UK.
Sometime in the 80s having joined forces with the Gold Brothers all Sullivan’s titles were merged into the Goldstar group who had their own printing press, Broglia and their own distribution chain with vans on the road visiting newsagents on a fortnightly basis.
The birth of the internet and the access that it gave to hardcore porn was the beginning of the end but Sullivan saw that too and sold of all the titles in a management buy out for the price of £1.
Eventually, as unbelievable as it seems Whitehouse and all the other titles in the Goldstar stable closed down and if you asked me today as a porn buying teenager which would I have preferred mags or net? Well maybe its my age but traveling 5 miles away from home to a newsagent where I definitely wouldn’t meet anyone I knew added further excitement to getting my mucky hands on that months mucky mag.