Girl Illustrated In 1965 the H&E (Health & Efficiency) magazine, Britain's leading promoter of naturism, moved from their offices in Carlisle Road to 38 North Audley Street in the centre of London to become under the editorial of Leslie Bainbridge. Bainbridge was to rule the roost for more than the next 10 years, and clearly thought that there was more to the subject that tired discursives on what was premissable at naturist sites. His controvertial beliefs in the inseperability of naturism and sex and his enthusiasm for depilation would, initally at least, hugely increase the magazine's popularity, resulting in record sales and fortnightly publication in 1972! Also controvertial was his battle against sensorship, H&E becoming the first magazine to show unretouched nude photographs in 1968.

The first move, though, was to launch a new publication. When the first issue of Girl Illustrated appeared in 1966 it's look was far removed from the pocket sized H&E, initially measuring 12 1/2 x 9 inches, but from issue 3, 12 x 8 3/4 inches (slightly larger than modern day A4) and abounding in the highest quality colour and black & white photographs of well known and not so well known models in various states of undress. Indeed, the abundance of colour photographs was highly unusual for magazines at this time - many reserving the medium for the front cover and, if you were lucky, the centre pages. The philosophy as Girl Illustrated however, was to minimise the words and maximise the pictures. Initially writing was resticted to the model's name, statistics, and film career! Printing was to an excellent standard and was carried out in Switzerland.

From issue 9 a letters page was introduced on the inside of the back cover, although this doesn't appear in every edition of the magazine. Early topics of discussion include the frequency of appearance of bare breasts, and the optimum female statistics.

It is made clear in the early editions that GI did not have its own photographers, but rather bought in it's images of usually well known models such as June Palmer, Jayne Mansfield, Samantha Segar, and a little later Lesley Langley and Berthe Jensen. Later the magazine would use its own photographers to capture the lesser known faces of the 1970s.

From issue 16 the GI word count increases with the inclusion of a little light poetry to describe its features models. This does not last long, but the increased word count is retained in describing the models.

For issues 19 and 20 the letters page becomes known as From You To Us, although this little is dropped again until issue 26 but after which it is permanently retained. Issue 34 is the last to drop the letters page in favour of extra pictures.

The Girl Illustrated Souvenir Edition appears alongside issue 30. This comes at a pricey 12/6 but its 96 pages are jam packed with beauties and it's 50% in full colour!

Issue 30 also sees the introduction of the centrefold. Strangely this meets with opposition from readers who suggest that this area of the magazine would be better utilised by depicting a series of four single full page photographs of the model of the month. Those who are in favour of the centre spread, generally disagree with the editor's choice of model! The whole idea is abandoned by issue 41 when the centrefold is replaced with a series of photographs accompanying a short story of a girl and a motorbike. This can be seen as the first step towards the more wordy, topic orientated magazine that would soon appear. A few different ideas were tried out for the centrefold area, before the space was reincorporated into general magazine space. One particular idea, an offbeat article entitled Dangerous Curves added some humour and such articles would reappear from time to time.

Having seemingly resolved the topic of breasts, the letters page now concerns itself with the censorship of the female genitalia. At this time most models were pictured in pants due to the legal requirement to airbrush out any offending bits that might be showing - a practice which doesn't exactly look too good. One reader complains that if GI's competitors, Health & Efficiency are able to show them then why can't GI? The Editor, in his reply reveals the secret that GI and H&E were not competitors! He explains that H&E as a Naturist magazine is regarded in different terms by the obscenity law than is a glamour magazine. This turns out to be the first of many namechecks for H&E.

From volume 5 number 7 GI begins to appear in a slightly different format. Each month a topic of discussion is chosen and the featured models are asked to comment. This results in a considerably more wordy magazine than previously and the number of pages is increased to compensate.

The editor, clearly tiring of the constant repitition of the topics of depilation, censorship and full nudity, cautiously at first begins to show full nudity in the magazine, although at least initially he makes sure that models chosen for full frontal display are well endowed with hair!

The next major change is the introduction a columnist Selena to handle From You To Us from volum 6 issue 38. This was the first in a series of changes that with hindsight could be seen to mark the beginning of the end for Girl Illustrated. The formal polite and diplomatic tones of Ed are replaced with an abraisive put up or shut up attitude which is not generally to liking of the old faithful readership, but welcomed by a new generation of sadly more casual readers, resulting in the eventual erosion in sales.

GI switched printers from volume 7 number 55. The magazine is now printed in Coventry, England on higher quality paper. It is now a little smaller - a size which is now known as A4. The date of printing is now shown on the back page of each edition.

Judging by the letters page in the early editions of GI volume 8, Volume 7 number 61 seems to be particular unpopular amongst the readership. Product adverising (as opposed to self advertising) now begins to appear in GI for the first time. Collectors of the magazine will notice that subsequent editions are particularly difficult to obtain.

Particularly hard to find, is Volume 8 Number 10; sought after by (seemingly wealthy) Dr. Who collectors for it's naughty pictures of Katy Manning.

From issue 7 of volume 8 the magazine made it's final change, GI coming under the editorial of Al Spiganetti. This issue is the first to display a contents page and production credits, and the last to feature the old masthead and Selena. In subsequent editions the format of GI changed regularly and each time for the worse. Only a few of these difficult to find issues were printed before publication of Girl Illustrated ceased in early 1977. Girl Illustrated's sister magazine Late Night Extra which had been launched in 1973 didn't fare much better and by 1981 it's time was also up.

Thus the naturist magazine which started it all, Health & Efficiency, outlived it's siblings being in the hands of Peenhill up until the first issue of 1997, when the company went into liquidation and the address changed again.

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