No nudes or nipples please, we're Aussies

A year ago I was asked to uproot my family (pregnant wife and two kids) and move 12,000 miles to Sydney to launch Zoo.

More and more titles are being shipped overseas. Closer is already a big success in France, OK! is doing good things in the States, and FHM has a bigger global network than most Bond baddies.

What makes them work is figuring out how they should differ from the mothership.

I launched Zoo in the UK two and a half years ago and, together with Nuts, transformed the men's market. They now comfortably shift more mags than the rest of the market put together.

So how are Aussie blokes different?

More brazen? Down to earth? Only interested in tits, arse and surfing?

Apparently not. First thing I learnt about full-on Outback dudes is that, as they haven't been weaned on page 3 and Loaded, they're easily shocked by a bit of nudity. So no nipples then.

The other factor is that supermarkets here are the de facto moral guardians. If half an areola sneaks into the mag, then we're likely to be pulled and lose up to 20 per cent of our sale.

I found myself getting bikini bottoms airbrushed back in, which goes against the grain for a men's magazine editor.

Next thing is the sport. They love it here all right, but they can't make their minds up what it is they like.

In Sydney it's rugby league (also known as football). In Melbourne and Darwin, it's Aussie Rules (also known as football). In some of the wealthier rural areas it's rugby union (also known as football).

And, with the Socceroos suddenly doing OK in the World Cup, there's football (also known as soccer, but now insisting people call it football too).

A star of Rooney's status in Sydney could walk the streets of Adelaide unnoticed. So how are we supposed to cover that in a national mag?

Turns out all we have to do is plaster Warney on the cover, question Ian Thorpe's sexuality and agree to hate Lleyton Hewitt, and we are pretty much covered.

The rest of the mag includes a pair of conjoined twin columnists, advice from an obese man, a War of the Week, Accidental Porn, and a weekly photograph of inter-species copulation.

Some things work whichever continent you're in.

Well six months in, we must have got something right. Our first ABC is 85,262, and already more copies of Zoo are sold each week than any other men's mag in Australia.

We're currently shifting around 100,000 a week. Not bad, as there are a third as many people here as in the UK, spread over several million square miles of desert (it takes the Zoo delivery truck three days to reach Perth each week).

And my wife, who was conveniently due to give birth in the week the mag launched, managed to hang on until the following week. Good on yer, Sheila! (as someone actually said to me).

Looking back it was, at times, a painful labour, with plenty of screaming, a fair amount of blood, and nurses on standby. But it got published in the end.

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