With VerMeulen you get self-promotion and self- deprecation in equal measure. He is the only American editor of a British glossy - a Tina Brown or Anna Wintour in reverse, except . . . he swears a lot, pokes fun at himself and would have you believe that he doesn't take life too seriously. The figures tell a different story: sales have gone up by 15 per cent to 91,000 since he took charge a year ago, and GQ is now Europe's biggest- selling men's magazine. 'Non- skin', he points out, before porn king David Sullivan reaches for the phone.
Criticism that, despite the success, GQ sometimes doesn't appear to know who it is writing for is met with a flurry of facts. GQ is designed to appeal to 'any intellectual successful man'; the average reader is aged 28 with an income of pounds 25,000- pounds 28,000 a year; 70 per cent are single, 'although 50 per cent know who they will be going to bed with tonight'; and they think about sex a lot - 'every six minutes'.
Their icon, though, is not some world-renowned super- stud or rock star or actor but a 42-year-old businessman, who is happily married with two young children and prides himself on his scruffy, casual appearance. Step forward . . . Richard Branson.