Weisz to star in steamy antics of 'Erotic Review'

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The Independent Online

When Rowan Pelling's husband told her Rachel Weisz had phoned, the former editor of The Erotic Review was "completely flabbergasted".

The motive for the call was still more surprising. The Oscar-winning actress had called Pelling because she was interested in making a film based on the journalist's unfinished account of her rumbustious reign at the journal.

The star is now set to recreate the heyday of The Erotic Review, which grew from a newsletter to become the titillating publication of choice for naughty old colonels and Soho intelligentsia.

Pelling is still writing the memoir on which the film will be based. The opportunity to be played by one of the world's most glamorous actresses arose when Weisz's agent sent her the proposal for the book.

The story of the nice English girl who became editor of an erotic magazine appealed to Weisz, who told Vogue she was drawn to its "sexy, comic potential".

Weisz said: "I love the distance between who she was, a sort of Home Counties girl, and the persona she had to create when she was editing the magazine."

Now a columnist for The Independent on Sunday, Pelling worked at Private Eye and GQ, before joining the Erotic Print Society in 1995, initially to answer the phone. Her flirtatious telephone manner proved a hit and she was soon running the Society's newsletter. In 1997, Jamie Maclean who ran the Society turned the newsletter into The Erotic Review.

When she took over two years later Pelling oversaw a title that combined eroticism with humour and literary merit, sending subscriptions up to 30,000 a month.

Contributors included Auberon Waugh, the Booker prize winner DBC Pierre, Alain de Botton, Kathy Lette, Sarah Waters and Michel Faber.

The Erotic Review was famed for its long lunches, held at the Academy Club in Soho, where staff and guests would indulge in steamy antics - Pelling's assistant was once handcuffed to a chair by a contributor brandishing a cat-o'-nine-tails.

In 2001, the title parted company with the Society and Pelling and her staff were left trying to raise funds, at one point stripping off to pose for a nude editorial photo shoot. Pelling bought the magazine for a nominal £1, selling it to Dennis Publishing two years later.

But despite Felix Dennis's initial enthusiasm, in 2004 The Erotic Review was sold to the publishers of Penthouse UK and has since dwindled into obscurity as a quarterly.

Pelling said she was "extremely flattered" at the prospect of being played by Weisz, who recently won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in The Constant Gardener.

"She's obviously far too beautiful and sophisticated and glorious to be linked even to a fictionalised version of The Erotic Review thing. I'm not in her class," said Pelling, who has met Weisz to discuss the project.