On November 17, 1970 - as the Soviets landed an unmanned aircraft on the Moon and Douglas Engelbart got his patent for a computer mouse - The Sun, the newest addition to Rupert Murdoch’s expanding publishing empire, put a nude photo of German model Stephanie Rahn on page three under a headline no one read. This struck roughly half of The Sun’s readership as a really good idea and the “Page 3 Girl” became an every-day feature of the England’s upstart tabloid. The women who graced the spread, an endless roster of heavily petaled roses, became their own category of homegrown celebrity as the paper became the highest circulation publication in the Isles. Some of the models, notably Samantha Fox and Katie “Jordan” Price, became objects of almost fetishistic national interest while others found themselves on the unused arms of Premier Leaguers. By standing next to the news, each embodied The Sun’s prurient but conservative world view. Page 3 was supposed to titillate, but it never changed.
What Page 3 certainly did was piss off a lot of women - Times of London readers mostly. Marching under a “Boobs Aren’t News” banner, the anti-Page 3 crusaders spent the last decade or so organizing themselves into a sort of anti-Femen. Their voices were drowned out over the last several years thanks to public paroxysms over The Sun’s least savory practice, wiretapping celebrities and dead soldiers’ families, but they remained on message. And they seem to have won. There have been no Page 3 Girls this week, only pictures of bikinied beauties bounding about on beaches. The tradition has ended a decade after The Sun ceded ground by baring enhanced bosoms from its pages. As America seeks to free the nipple, the ever-contrarian Murdoch is doing the opposite.
The development may come as a blow to several 50-year-old men from Shropshire, but The Sun appears to continuing the tradition online. Today’s girl is Lucy. She has red hair, curves, and lovely smile. She looks like the best thing about a dank corner of jolly old England. She looks happy to be there, happy to follow in the heelsteps of the women (and girls, if we’re to be honest) who spent the last four decades flirting from behind the fold.
Here are the most memorable members of the sorority Lucy just joined.
Photos by REX USA