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The Birth of Cheri magazine

Peter Wolff was the brains behind Cheri magazine. God knows, he had the experience and the track record. By 1976, he had already worked on magazines such as Rogue, Topper, Bachelor, Ace, Follies, Frolic, Gala, Tab, Vue, Jaguar, Duke, Stud, Escapade, Daily Girl, Caper, and Gallery, to name but a few. He’d even been the editor of rival magazine High Society.

As indicated in Taschen’s History of Men’s Magazines, “Publishers would hire Peter to start a magazine, and while his magazine would be incredibly innovative and profitable, he’d be partying and obviously having way too much fun. As part of his deal with any publisher, he always insisted on a tab at a convenient bar, with his own table. He was a compulsive gambler and four-pack-a-day smoker. His office was littered with betting stubs, cigarette butts, take-out food, random slides, and manuscripts. His t-shirts and jeans were stained, and his long gray hair was often unwashed: he was fat and not particularly handsome. And yet he managed to have sex with most of the models, through his immense charm and intelligence. He never believed a publisher could fire him, but eventually the drinking, the arrogance, plus spending tons and tons of money, would always be too much for them. So they’d dump him… and get his great ideas.”

But to view Wolff as purely an adult magazine veteran is to underestimate and undervalue him. His first experience as an editor was on a student newspaper at Queens College, when he was active in the Women’s Liberation and Civil Rights Movements, even risking his life in black voter registration drives in the South. He became involved in the world of counter-cultural publications in the late 1960s, before becoming involved in erotic magazines. But Wolff differed from the vision of porn magnates like Hugh Hefner and Bob Guccione in that he had little time for the fantasy world of the beautiful people. He was fascinated in the sexual interests of common men – and their wives. He wanted to democratize the content and involve the readers directly in the magazines he produced… read more and view the digital issue archive >

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