Bunhill: Self styled

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The Independent Online
IF EDITORS reflected their publications, Michael VerMeulen of GQ would be one of the best-dressed men in Britain. But instead of head-to- toe Armani, he favours open- necked denim shirts and cords (the photo he hands out does not reflect the reality). We are sitting in the Groucho Club, VerMeulen's favourite London haunt. He is downing Manhattans. 'Do I look like the editor of GQ?', he roars, leaning back in his chair. Before I reply, he accidentally tips his drink all over his front. 'You look even less like him now,' I answer.

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.

(Photograph omitted)