Faked orgasms, lefty lovers, Aids . . .: Sex is a universal language for the six million readers of 'Cosmopolitan' magazine's 29 international editions

'I consider you my children,' enthuses Helen Gurley Brown, editor-in-chief of US Cosmopolitan magazine. 'I'm so deliciously proud of you all.'

Her 'children' are the editors of Cosmopolitan's 29 international editions, gathered in London for a family reunion to share problems, feature ideas and promotional tips, writes Martin Wroe. Worldwide, the magazine sells six million copies a month, with up to 40 per cent of material in many international editions taken free from the American or British Cosmopolitan.

Marcelle d'Argy Smith, the British editor, expands the family theme: 'Every time I think of the Cosmo family my heart soars.' Not to mention her sales figures, up 20 per cent, or 100,000 copies, since she took over three years ago. Juliette Boisriveaud, of the French edition, is also grateful to Helen, her praise taking on religious tones: 'Thank you, Helen, for the bible, the bible is perfect.'

Helen Gurley Brown created every emancipated young woman's bible for the Hearst Corporation in 1965. Now in her seventies, some 45 years older than her average reader, Ms Gurley Brown remains crystal clear about the Cosmo Girl reader profile. In short: she's under 25, has a job but is networking for a move, expects to be married but is not panicking, wants a baby but is prepared to wait until her late thirties, thinks sex is important but not on the first date - and will bring the condoms - is not sure what a bisexual is but is sure she has never slept with one, and believes that 'you get out of life only what you put in there'.

However, others are not convinced this is the only Cosmo Girl. In Germany, for example, the east Germans cannot afford Cosmopolitan and the west German editors don't know anything about ex-Commie Cosmo girls anyway. What they do know is that surveys about what men know about the female body work wonders for sales. In Greece, Cosmo Girl is 'really flipping out' according to Rica Zoula-Vayianni, because of the sexual revolution and Aids.

Unlike the rest of the Cosmopolitan editorial sisterhood, the Dutch editor has neither big ear-rings nor highlighted hair, perhaps because he is a man ('I was born this way,' he confides apologetically from the platform). In his first week on the job he had to view 50 'hunks' in boxer shorts for the Cosmo calendar.

Sex, the magazine's preoccupation in the Sixties, remains its dominant concern today - worldwide. This can create problems. The Latin American editor, Sara Maria Castany, has difficulty getting oral sex past the censors. The solution is to disguise it as a medical article. Sarah Glattstein Franco, from Spain, has a similar dilemma: 'Can we put oral sex on the cover or will the Spanish woman faint?' It seems not, it is selling 190,000 copies a month. The most controversial article in the South African edition this year was on 'the short-comings of lefty lovers'.

In Australia, rival magazines give Cosmopolitan a run for its money. While one competitor tells you how to have an orgasm, Cosmo describes how to fake it, and another rival explains how to knit one.

But despite the British cover-lines this month ('Why does hugging have to lead to sex?', 'Are you going through a lesbian phase?' and 'Alice Walker on female circumcision'), Helen Gurley Brown's American writers are still streets ahead on sex according to Marcelle d'Argy Smith.

'Their sex pieces are wonderful. They've got psychologists who can research and write and we just haven't'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

Guru Careers: Print Project Manager

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Print Project Manager is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk