Front cover from a 2002 issue
|Former editors||Richard Desmond|
The magazine was owned by Richard Desmond's Northern and Shell publishing company until its sale in 2004 as part of a package of 45 titles to Remnant Media for a reported £20 million (approximately US$39 million).
In addition to the adult titles, Northern and Shell was also publishing the celebrity magazine OK! when Desmond purchased the Express Newspapers group in 2000. The Express group included the Daily Express, its sister the Sunday Express, and the Daily Star. In 2004 he sought acquisition of additional "mainstream" publications — The Spectator and The Daily Telegraph, along with its sister publication The Sunday Telegraph. He was unsuccessful in his bid for The Telegraph, losing out to David and Frederick Barclay, who had long sought to own the paper.
Asian Babes, along with other titles such as Readers' Wives, was part of Desmond's "portfolio" of soft-porn magazines which was offered for sale in 2001 in order to provide cash to invest in the then newly-acquired Express Newspapers group. An article in BBC Online reported that some would view the sale as an attempt to distance himself from the pornography business. The piece went on to say that most analysts believed it to be only a financial move as The Fantasy Channel, Northern and Shell's adult cable channel, wasn't included in the sale.
The BBC Online piece also reported that Desmond had borrowed £97 million (approximately US$190 million) for the Express group purchase and that while profitable, the portfolio only generated about £20 million (approximately US$39 million) in revenue each year. There were also concerns that some investors were reluctant to invest in porn, and that the market for such magazines was changing. (Interestingly, when Asian Babes was sold in 2004, the Bank of Scotland later issued an apology for having loaned £5 million (US$9.8 million) to the buyer, Remnant Media.)
Desmond's ownership of the porn magazines was often criticized and frequently used to bolster criticism of his business practices. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a columnist for The Independent in London, England, characterized Desmond as "the seedy porn baron who gives this nation Mega Boobs and Asian Babes and other yuck and muck". The column criticized the way in which Desmond had made use of the Daily Express; Alibhai-Brown's column was not focused on Desmond's publishing activities with regard to pornography; she went on to say: "Actually, I am less bothered about the porn mags than many.... I made myself look at Asian Babes and it is true that the 'babes' themselves look exceedingly full of life, not pushed into any of the poses".
Information about Desmond's ownership of Asian Babes and other adult magazines was included in a BBC Online 2004 profile which spoke to the controversy surrounding his ownership of "top-shelf" (pornographic) magazines at the same time he was attempting to purchase The Daily Telegraph.
- Clare Brant, Yun Lee Too, "Rethinking sexual harassment", Pluto Press, 1994, ISBN 0-7453-0837-6, pp.88-92
- Andrew Clennell (2004-03-02). "Desmond breaks links with porn as he fights for 'Telegraph'". The Independent. Independent News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- "About Northern & Shell". Northern and Shell. N&S Network. Archived from the original on 20 January 2007. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- Jane Arthurs, Jean Grimshaw, "Women's bodies: discipline and transgression", Continuum International Publishing Group, 1999, ISBN 0-304-33963-6, pp.191-192
- Clarissa Smith, "One for the girls!: the pleasures and practices of reading women's porn", European Communication Research and Education Association Series, Intellect Books, 2007, ISBN 1-84150-164-6, p.57
- The Economist vol.357 (2000) p.67
- Ben Richardson (2004-06-23). "Does the Telegraph bid add up?". BBC News Online Analysis. BBC. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- "Desmond to sell 'adult' titles". BBC News Online: Business. BBC. 2001-01-11. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- "Bank apologises for porn funding: The Bank of Scotland has launched a policy review after negative publicity over a deal involving pornographic magazines". BBC Online News. BBC. 2004-03-22. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (2002-06-03). "I can take Mr Desmond's porn but not his racism". The Independent. Independent News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- Chris Jones (2000-11-25). "Richard Desmond: Express route to respectability". BBC News World Edition. BBC. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- Jorn Madslien (2004-02-12). "Profile: Richard Desmond". BBC News Online. BBC. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- Jorn Madslien (2006-05-07). "How much should you pay for sex?". The Observer. Guardian News and Media Limited 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-22.