There’s been a kind of evolution in the men’s magazine
world. You start off with a bit of gentle, editorial humour like,
say, Arena. Then you get Loaded bounding onto the scene with a
loud, laddish attitude. Then FHM ups the ’boob ’n’ bloke’ count.
Then comes Xtreme.
The first issue carried features on base jumping - where people
jump off tall buildings and bridges with parachutes to save them;
street luging - where the lunacy of the luge is recreated on
solid concrete with adapted skateboards that achieve speeds of up
to 95 miles per hour; snow shovel skiing - yes, it’s where people
slide down hills on overturned snow shovels; and Extreme
Extreme Championship Wrestling knocks all the others into a
It’s like the World Wrestling Federation with the slight
exception that chair legs, wooden sticks and razor blades are
allowed. Oh, and they fight for real. The editor, Jerome Smail,
loved his launch issue.
’The one thing that we didn’t manage to get in, because we’re
still looking for people who do it, is this white water rafting
that people are supposed to be doing in cardboard boxes,’ Smail
says. ’We’ve got a reporter on the case and we hope we’ll get
something for a later issue.’
The first outing for Xtreme sold a respectable 75,000 copies,
according to the editor. If that seems a lot for a magazine about
minority sports, Smail points out that it also embraces all
aspects of the lifestyle.
Thus, they review films, books, CDs, videos and games as well as
pulling off features where one of the magazine’s reporters had to
go to Las Vegas and gamble his last dollars 800 on a single
number on the roulette wheel. Needless to say, he lost.
’We’ve found that the Internet is a great source of stories,’
explains Smail. ’You’d also be quite surprised to find how many
of these nutty events have proper organisations that they have
thrown up. Street luging, for instance, has an official body in
the UK and US. There’s even an Olympics of the extreme sporting
world - the X Olympics. We covered the winter version in issue
one and we’ll do the others as they come up.’
When it comes to the kind of sheer nuttiness that he writes
about, 27-year-old Smail is no slouch himself. He hasn’t yet
street luged, but he’s bungee jumped, mountain biked and
generally thrown his body about in ways it was never meant to be
’We have to draw a firm line between the things that we recommend
our readers do and the things we just report on,’ says Smail.
So what effect does he think this new job will have on his life?
’Well, I was keen on the outdoors life and extreme sports but I
wasn’t a huge mountain biker before I started working on Mountain
After working there for a bit, however, I took the sport up
through my time on the magazine and shortly afterwards. Of
course, the problem with this job is that I’ll probably end up
taking on base jumping or something and killing myself.’
1991: Editor, Paintball Games International
1995: Sub-editor, Mountain Biker International
1996: Editor, Cycling Today
1997: Editor, Xtreme