Front cover from a 2002 issue
|Former editors||Richard Desmond|
Asian Babes was a British softcore pornographic magazine which featured depictions of women of South Asian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai origin. The magazine was launched in March 1992 and initially used only Indian and Pakistani models from the United Kingdom. Later, Asian models from other countries were also included. The magazine was owned by Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell publishing company until its sale in 2004 to Remnant Media. The magazine had ceased publication by 2012.
In 1983, Northern & Shell obtained the licence to publish Penthouse in the United Kingdom which led to its development of a portfolio of adult titles, with Asian Babes being among them. It was one of the first British pornographic magazines to feature Asian models, and was initially published on an experiment basis. It was, however, an immediate success, with sales of 160,000 copies. The company was also responsible for the release of Electric Blue softcore pornography videos titled Asian Babes in 1993. According to a 1995 survey by the magazine, most of its readers were white men.
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. There were concerns that some investors were reluctant to invest in porn, and that the market for such magazines was changing. Asian Babes was finally sold in 2004 as part of a package of 45 titles to Remnant Media for a reported £20 million (approximately US$39 million). After the magazine had been sold, the Bank of Scotland issued an apology for having loaned £5 million (US$9.8 million) to Remnant Media in order to facilitate the purchase.
The publication of Asian Babes caused controversy in the British Asian community. Models came into conflict with their families and boycotts were organised against newsagents selling the magazine.
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.
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