By Colin Crummy
Greg Gutfeld is to leave Maxim after Dennis Publishing decided not to renew his two-year contract, due to run out in May.
The publisher stressed that the controversial American editor was not being blamed for the magazine’s poor ABC performance. A spokesman said it was simply time for "fresh thinking"
rather than a reaction to the fall of 18.7 per cent year on year to 190,438, the second-largest drop in the men’s lifestyle sector.
Maxim has been hit in recent years from the arrival of the weekly lads’ mags Nuts and Zoo, which jointly sell more than 500,000 copies a week, and the downturn in the sector overall.
Gutfeld said: "I am leaving Maxim UK effective 24 May. I was asked to come to Maxim to reinvent it, to give it a voice and make it an innovative read in a dull market. I did that. But if I have to look at Jennifer Ellison’s breasts one more time, I will have a seizure.
"Maxim is in great shape, which is more than I can say for the men’s market generally, or for myself personally.
I have put on 20 pounds."
Gutfeld joined US Stuff — also published by Dennis — at its launch in 1999 after making his name editing the US edition of Men’s Health. He lifted Stuff’s sales to around 1.2 million, making it the biggest-selling men’s magazine in the US. He joined Maxim in the UK in April 2004, armed with his high profile in US media circles and extensive contacts.
Gutfeld was renowned for pulling stunts. In the US, he wore a bearskin to a fashion show in New York and sent a group of dwarfs to disrupt a magazine event. Last April, Maxim sent a terminally ill reader on a press trip and photographed him surrounded by naked models for a controversial feature.
His ongoing, comedic war of words with GQ editor Dylan Jones, who he referred to as "that bald old guy at GQ", culminated in Gutfeld publishing Jones’s direct phone number, encouraging readers to harass him, and picturing the smart-suited Jones in Maxim’s worst-dressed column.
Asked about the departure of his longstanding rival, Jones replied: "Who?"
Gutfeld said he planned to stay in London "for the time being" and write a book. He added: "I have been fortunate enough throughout my career to be surrounded by funny, smart people, and never more so than at Maxim UK.
I leave with fond memories, an embarrassing photo of Felix [Dennis] without his pants on, and a new MP3 player."
An acting editor of Maxim will be announced next week, when the search for a new editor begins. The company said the positioning of the magazine would not change.