The first issue of Cheri came out in August 1976 – with a typically over-the-top announcement by Peter Wolff that mirrored a similarly hyperbolic introduction he had written when he launched High Society just three months earlier:
“Here comes CHERI! A star-spangled, Yankee-doodling dingdong of a magazine! A motherfucker of a book! Bid farewell to commercialized cunt-mongering. We’re free-swinging, free-thinking family, larynx for the morals revolution, an arsenal for all liberationist movements. We’re out to shatter all the old sexual formulas.”
In fact, Wolff brought a number of ideas with him from High Society, notably assembling a group of female ‘contribution editors’ – each supposed experts in a different field of sexuality – who would pen new columns each month. Their writing would ostensibly be a form of gonzo journalism, but would include enough titillating sexual detail to appeal to the raincoat crowd.
For Cheri magazine, Wolff hired adult film regulars Kim Pope and Jody Maxwell as contributors. According to a recent interview The Rialto Report conducted with Kim Pope, she was living with Wolff and his wife at the time, and her column was largely ghost-written by Wolff himself using conversations about Pope’s experiences as the basis of the column. Jody Maxwell, who was then living in Kansas, was described as a “former Young Republican who will be covering the Bible belt – and up-coming presidential elections.”‘
Other columnists were less well-known but equally colorful. There was Terry Kolb (founder of the New York Eulenspiegel Society, “dedicated to masochist liberation”), Maureen Murphy (“editor, writer, model, and revolutionary sexual crusader”), Mistress Roseanne (“a prominent New York dominant”), Renee Rousseau (a “journalist at large”), and nudist/swinger Audrey Andrews. Wolff wanted Cheri to feel like an inclusive family party, so he invited readers to correspond with all the columnists c/o Cheri.
In the first few months, the photo spreads were often generic picture sets acquired from agencies, but photographer Peter Hurd contributed a pictorial of Annie Sprinkle accompanied by an interview of the adult film star conducted by Wolff.
One of Wolff’s big ideas for the launch of Cheri was a $1,000 ‘Blow Job Contest’. When he had been at Gallery magazine, Wolff had held an amateur photo contest that had drawn a huge response – and which had got him fired. This time, readers were asked to write a 150-word essay on “the superlative cock-sucking abilities of xxx (wife/girlfriend/secretary/friend/sister (gulp)/roommate”, and submit it to Cheri for consideration. These essays would be judged by a jury consisting of Gloria Leonard, Kim Pope, and Wolff himself. The winner would come to New York to receive the cash prize in person (and no doubt be required to offer some proof of their alleged expertise.) Five runners-up would receive $100 cash prizes as well.
Writer Diana Clapton (who had written both volumes of the paperback biography of Marc Stevens) contributed an article on the Star Family, a self-described “first porn commune” based in Southern California. The Star Family were a rag tag group of underground writers and artists, headed up by husband and wife Paul and Shirley Eberle, and they published the underground newspaper, the ‘L.A. Star’. Photos of the family having sex were provided by Ric Dante, who was also a member of the group.
As Peter Wolff said in his opening editorial: “I’m fucking tired of following other people’s formulas. I’m sick of producing mindless, sexless, sexist shit. CHERI has what you’ve told me you want. Not what (Supreme Court Justice) Burger wants. Not what Ford (U.S. President) wants. Not what the slick, hip, cool, big-money cats wants.
“It’s our magazine. Yours, mine. And it’s going to happen BIG.”
Cheri August 1976
English | PDF | 100 Pages | 32 MB