Page 3 is a British cultural phenomenon that, when it comes down to it, consists of nothing more than a young, attractive woman posing in a provocative manner in a national newspaper - topless. Models that have starred as Page 3 Girls have often gone on to become household names and have spread their wings beyond the confines of appearing topless for publications. Some have had success in the music world, many have had television careers and one in particular seems to appear just about everywhere as a savvy businesswoman who'll do anything for (ahem) exposure.
The Page 3 institution will be enjoying its 44th year of existence in November, 2014. The brainchild of an editor called Larry Lamb, Page 3 Girls have been gracing the printed pages (and website) of The Sun for over four decades. The tabloid newspaper is certainly not known for its high quality journalism and integrity but still, the owner of the publication, Rupert Murdoch, was apparently furious when he first saw what Lamb had done. However, sales figures went through the roof and so, naturally, the Australian tycoon turned an ambivalent eye to the topless girls featured in his paper.
The Sun witnessed an impressive growth in figures: from 1.2 million in 1966 to 3.7 million by 1976 (with Page 3 making its debut in 1970). Whilst many other British newspapers were suffering from decreases in circulation figures, The Sun was becoming the undisputed most popular newspaper in the country. Although the latest circulation figure is only 2.2 million - no doubt affected by the exponential growth of online news sources combined with various scandals that have plagued the paper's umbrella company, News Corp. - The Sun is still the best-selling daily in the UK.
But it's not all rosy for The Sun and Page 3. Over the years there have been many campaigns to remove the feature, which is viewed by many as anti-feminist, and there is even a protest group called 'No More Page 3'. Many see young girls exposing their breasts in a national newspaper as degrading and demeaning, but the fact that the feature remains popular with The Sun's readers makes it unlikely that it'll be discontinued any time soon. As long as Page 3 Girls help to sell newspapers, their (well-paid) jobs are secure.
Here, we're taking a look back at 10 of the most popular Page 3 Girls ever to feature in The Sun. Many of these women got their start as Page 3 Girls and went on to become huge celebrities in their native Britain and further afield.
(Don't worry, this article is Safe For Work!)
10 Jo Guest: DOB 22 February 1972
Jo Guest beat out quite a few famous names to feature at number 10 on this list, including the polarizing Jodie Marsh, former beauty queen Leilani Dowding, lads' mag favorite Sophie Howard and Suzanne Mizzi, a popular Page 3 girl from the 1980s who tragically died in 2011 from ovarian cancer at the age of 43. Jo Guest clearly had a clever agent, who exploited Guest's Page 3 fame to the max. She was a ubiquitous contributor to numerous magazines during her modeling days and she even appeared as a PC character in a game called Interactive Girls, which included a bizarre shaving scene...
9 Lucy Pinder: DOB 20 December 1983
Pinder used a very clever marketing technique to boost her profile when it came to appearing topless. Although her glamour-modeling career began in 2003, she actually spent the next four years expertly covering her nipples. For some reason, Pinder's areola became something of a celebrity in itself, so when she finally exposed her full topless glory for the appropriately titled Nuts magazine in 2007, her star value shot up.
8 Kathy Lloyd: DOB 13 November 1967
Lloyd will be fondly remembered by The Sun readers from the late 1980s. A simply stunning woman, Lloyd featured on Page 3 frequently and even appeared in the video for the 1987 hit "Senza una Donna" by Zucchero and Paul Young. The Welsh model was known for her exotic looks as much as for her bountiful curves.
7 Maria Whittaker: DOB 7 October 1969
Another famous Page 3 girl from the 1980s is Maria Whittaker. Shockingly, compared to current moral standards, Whittaker first featured topless at the age of just 16. She was popular during the 1980s computer-game craze, appearing in one of the tiniest bikinis ever made for the cover of Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior. A fledgling singing career was not a success but she married into the business, now enjoying a happy family life with the musician Rebel MC (Michael West).
6 Keeley Hazell: DOB 18 September 1986
Hazell has enjoyed almost unprecedented success after winning The Sun's Page 3 Idol competition in 2004. She has featured in games, television, films, made the obligatory attempt at a music career and has become a regular for FHM magazine. She is also known for working with charities, which include those working for animal rights and breast cancer awareness.
5 Melinda Messenger: DOB 23 February 1971
Few Page 3 girls have enjoyed the same level of fame as Ms. Messenger. Although her career was brutally cut short after The Sun readers voted only to allow natural girls - i.e. girls without implants - to appear on Page 3 (Messenger had her breasts enhanced early on in her modeling career), she still managed to carve out a very successful career as a media personality. Her friendly demeanor and likable personality have combined to help her become a television broadcaster and bona fide celebrity in the UK.
4 Helen Flanagan: DOB 7 August 1990
The youngest Page 3 girl on this list, Flanagan was already famous around the UK before exposing her breasts for The Sun in 2013. She had played Rosie Webster in the hugely popular British soap opera Coronation Street since 2000, appearing in over 900 episodes. Leaving in 2012, Flanagan, like the girl at No. 3 on this list, has become something of a polarizing figure. Over-exposure in newspapers, magazines and "celebrity" shows have made some wonder if the former actress is simply fame-hungry, or simply acutely aware of how much money her generous bosom can bring in.
3 Jordan: 22 May DOB 1978
Arguably the most famous glamour model in the UK, 'Jordan' (Katie Price) is certainly not the most beloved of former Page 3 girls. A glut of books, perfumes, reality TV shows and media coverage has led to Jordan becoming the British equivalent of Kim Kardashian, part of the modern cult of over-exposed celebrity. Many people will claim to dislike Jordan for several reasons, yet she still rakes in millions each year. Jordan began as a model and Page 3 girl at just 18, having sent her photos to a modelling agency. She went on to maximise her Page 3 fame, becoming a multi-faceted 'business woman'. 18 years later, she's still in the spotlight - for better, or worse.
2 Samantha Fox: DOB 15 April 1966
Sam Fox could easily be in joint top place for this list, but she gets pushed down to No. 2 simply because her star has waned somewhat - and because of her memorable and frankly awful stint hosting of the 1989 BRIT Awards. However, she is still fondly remembered for her Page 3 appearances and her relatively successful foray into the music business. Fox racked up quite a few hits in the 1980s, epitomized by the worldwide smash that was "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)". Fox has won several "greatest ever" Page 3 polls... but then so has the lady in the top spot.
1 Linda Lusardi: DOB 18 September 1958
First appearing as a Page 3 Girl in the 1970s, Lusardi has managed to retain a level of fame that is rare for most of the thousands of models that have appeared on The Sun's third page. Many might argue that Sam Fox deserves to be in the top spot, but Lusardi's career has been longer and did not feature any shambolic attempts at hosting music award shows. Still a regular on British TV, Lusardi had a recent recurrent role in popular soap opera Emmerdale and has established herself as a pantomime favorite. With a smile that lit up Page 3 - and many other attractive physical features to boot - Linda Lusardi is the crowned the most popular Page 3 Girl in the history of the Sun newspaper.