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Thursday, August 9, 2007

A Requiem for Dead Tree Tits, Ass and Gadgets

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2007 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge rachelleleah_l7_thumb.jpg

Snitch Ben Westhoff is having a hard time letting go of Stuff. No, not his material possessions, the once-redundant lad mag now reduced to aMaxim section. It’s creative destruction, Ben. The web will more than make up for the loss of Stuff. Ben, some final words … -d2

Stuffed

By BEN WESTHOFF

“She thinks clothes should be banned. We won't argue.”

Stuff magazine regularly dispensed such pearls of wisdom. Yet sadly the Rodney Dangerfield of lad mags is about to be made redundant, according to a report from Mediaweek. Soon it will be nothing but a section called “Stuff for Men” inside Maxim, ahead of parent company Dennis Publishing’s sale to the not-at-all-titillating sounding Quadrangle Group.

Did the world really need Maxim and Stuff? Absolutely! Perhaps the latter’s “Neighborhood Knockout” section seemed a bit derivative of Maxim’s “Hometown Hotties,” but calling Stuff inessential is like claiming the world doesn’t need Aerosmith because we already have the Rolling Stones.

Sure, Stuff's name was vague, its mission unclear. Ostensibly dedicated to reviews of gadgets, entertainment, clothes, and accessories (you know, stuff) it covered music less exhaustively than Blender and style to lesser effect than GQ. But to say they did babes better than Maxim is not an exaggeration.

While Maxim always got the hot chicks of the moment – the Jessica Simpsons and the J Lo's and J Lo Hewitts – Stuff featured the more interesting Hollywood hangers-on. Indie stars slumming, Ultimate Fighting Championship ring girls, “supermodels” you'd never heard of. Only a true fan of B-movies and crappy TV is familiar with young flesh like Dominique Swain, Taryn Manning and Rachelle Leah, but they’ve all been recent Stuff cover models.

Swain, we learn, modeled nude for PETA but still eats meat, “the rarer the better.” Who knew?

Stuff’s apparent demise couldn’t have come at a worse time for horny teens too nervous to buy Playboy. European T&A pioneer FHM also dropped its American print edition with its March issue. (Stuff, in fact, was created in 1998 to gobble up market share in anticipation of FHM's introduction into the U.S.) With Bob Guccione Jr.'s Gear having long ago run out of gas, the number of popular mainstream lad magazines now stands at one.

Hopefully, “urban” titles like King and Smooth will fill the gap, although if they continue to feature models with rear ends the size of Volkswagens that is probably not going to happen.

Footloose-mentality puritans cheering the demise of a publication degrading to women should hold their applause. American lad mags still lack the nudity and hysteria of their European counterparts. Stuff was a self-aware, quickly digestible morsel of media that encouraged aspiring frat boys not to take sex so seriously. Though clothes may never be banned, other magazines would do well by following Stuff’s example.

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David Downs

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