Following the amazing success achieved by S Club 7's first year into the entertainment world, the girls gained the attention of millions of fans; and this attention earned them their first ever inclusion into the 'FHM: 100 Sexiest Women in the World' list, and subsequently their first appearance on the men's lifestyle magazine.
May 2000 was the first time that the S Club girls appeared on the prestigious male magazine, as part of a "Grown-up Pop Special" with Steps and B*Witched. Featuring Rachel on the cover, the iconic image is one of the most desired items among S Club-collectors.
Recalling the first shot for FHM in 2010, Rachel said: "We were so used to being all kiddy and sweet and nice. It was an opportunity to be a bit more grown up, to be more womanly and sexy. It was really flattering. You don't really think of yourself as sexy and sensual. And suddenly I'm on the cover in a leather bra. Which, I assume, were very big back then".
100 SEXIEST WOMEN IN THE WORLD 2000 POSITIONS:
At the beginning of 2001 all the ladies from S Club 7 got their own individual cover in the number of January in an FHM special of 4 covers called "S Club Frenzy". This treatment earned each one of them a new position in the FHM list of the '100 Sexiest Women in the World' of 2001 where Rachel was crowned for the first time as the UK's sexiest lady and the second sexiest of the world. The special photoshoot took place in a Grecian five-star resort, ten miles up the road from Ayia Napa. The girls had just come from Germany where S Club 7 had performed at the Viva Awards Ceremony.
During the interview for the magazine, the girls discussed their relationship with fame, travelling and men. From all four, it was Rachel's edition that sold out first.
100 SEXIEST WOMEN IN THE WORLD 2001 POSITIONS:
"Alone at last with Britain's Sexiest Woman"
At the end of 2001, Rachel Stevens graced the cover of FHM for a second time in the same year. It was Rachel's first FHM photoshoot to be exclusively dedicated to her after being voted number 2 in the "100 Sexiest" poll. She was Britain's Sexiest Woman after all.
Rachel revealed what she would be doing if she wasn't in S Club 7 and not surprisingly it was something that involved fashion:
"If I wasn't in S Club I'd be back in my old career working in fashion PR. Mind you, I didn't enjoy it so maybe I'd do something different. I'm the sort of person that if I don't like something, I'll just move on to something else straight away. I always knew what I wanted to do, I always knew that this was in my heart and the PR job was just a way of earning a bit of money. I never would have been happy unless I was doing this".
Other 2001 covers
Proceeding clockwise: FHM Malaysia, FHM Ireland and FHM Australia.
"With Rachel and Hannah in Africa!"
2002 was probably S Club's busiest year of their career. At this point they would normally record an album and film a new season of their TV-Series, but this year they would also tour the UK for a second time and film their first ever movie. S Club had just lost a member and the number 7 from their name when they announced, according to FHM, a world tour that never materialized. Rachel and Hannah were took to Kenya in Africa by the magazine to shoot their "wild" and sexy new photoshoot for the November 2002 issue.
Rachel and Hannah posted their highest ever placings in 2002's "FHM: 100 Sexiest" list; they were two of only five English girls to make it into the Top 20. Hannah's placing saw her leap a massive 80 places up the list, while Rachel's second place, made her officially the sexiest girl in Britain for the second year in a row.
100 SEXIEST WOMEN IN THE WORLD 2001 POSITIONS:
This was the last time FHM's covers featured any other SClubber than Rachel Stevens; and it was also the last cover to feature Rachel for quite a few years. S Club split up in 2003 and Rachel went solo and released two albums, throughout her absense at FHM Magazine she appeared in a number of covers from other magazines that strengthened her status as a sex symbol, Rachel would be in the front page of magazines such as Arena, Cosmopolitan, You or Glamour. She would become the face of lingerie brand 'Pretty Polly' and would start to release her annual bestselling official calendars.
"My mum loves these shoots, she's my biggest fan!"
Rachel on the cover of Arena in 2003; of Glamour in 2004; and of Arena again in 2005.
These years saw Rachel being crowned again as Britain's sexiest female by 'FHM: 100 Sexiest" at nº 04 in 2003 and runner-up position nº 02 in 2004. After the release of 'Come And Get It', her second solo album, Rachel packed her bags and moved to Los Angeles.
RACHEL'S 100 SEXIEST WOMEN IN THE WORLD POSITIONS:
While living in Los Angeles, FHM approached Rachel to shoot her much desired comeback to the front page of the magazine, her first post-S Club 7 shoot. During the interview Rachel explained the pressure she felt after the split-up of S Club 7:
"I was so worried about giving a decent answer, or a witty anecdote, that I'd completely clam up".
In 2010 Rachel remembered this photoshoot saying:
"We shot this in a beautiful villa in Malibu. Some of the shots were amazing, but I don't think you recognise me in the cover shot. I'd just moved to LA. I had this huge sense of freedom, driving down Sunset Boulevard in my little red Mini. I'd spent years with all my schedules prepared for me. But there I was free. Very liberating".
100 SEXIEST WOMEN IN THE WORLD 2007 POSITION:
Free Sample Issue.
2008 saw Hannah Spearritt's return to the 'FHM: 100 Sexiest Women in the World' thanks to the success of her ITV dino-drama 'Primeval'; she re-entered the poll at number 87. But this year was also the year of Rachel's comeback to the UK and also to the limelight.
Rachel joined series 6 of BBC One show 'Strictly Come Dancing' in 2008. The FHM photoshoot (which is SClubility's favourite) took place just before the end of the show in December. Regarding her image Rachel commented:
"I was probably in the best shape of my life. There's no greater exercise for man nor woman to get you in shape. That gave me confidence, I went ruder with lingerie than I'd ever been before".
Speaking about the TV exposure of 'Strictly Come Dancing' with the interviewer she said:
"It's unbelievable, I've gone out and done massive shows, arena tours, but I always get nervous, whenever we did it. I think that's a good thing. You're on live TV, millions of people watching... you're putting yourself out there. There is no way I was going to turn it down, but it's really scary".
100 SEXIEST WOMEN IN THE WORLD 2009 POSITION:
"Rachel Stevens is our covergirl of the decade!"
In January 2010 FHM chose Rachel again to be on the cover of their magazine for a record seventh appearance. In this issue FHM named Rachel 'FHM's Girl of the Decade', their covergirl par excellence.
The photoshoot took place at the apartment Rachel had back then in Primrose Hill. The shoot was inspired by the 60's-70's Playboy Glamour, "When women were really sexy and cool. Bigger hair and a bit more candid". During the interview Rachel discussed how fame had changed over the years:
"Anyone can be famous now. Which might sound rich coming from someone who started in a manufactured pop band. But the aspirational aspect, and the idea that fame is only for talented people, has gone. But hey! I could be wrong. Maybe people who appear on Big Brother are talented. Who knows?".
Regarding paparazzi attention she said:
"That's something I've never got used to. The paparazzi still sit outside my house most days. Just because of the street where I live (Gwen Stefani and Jamie Oliver were her neighbours). I find it really unnerving. A guy in a car will suddenly follow you slowly down the street. If you don't know they're paps, it's terrifying!".
100 SEXIEST WOMEN IN THE WORLD 2010 POSITION:
"Rachel Stevens is the All-Time Sexiest Woman of FHM!"
Twenty years. Over 2,000 entrants. Millions of votes. But there could only ever be one winner. One woman who would rise above the rest like a glorious, sexy phoenix to be crowned the hottest woman in 'FHM: All-time Sexiest Women in the World' of FHM's 20-year history. And that woman was... Rachel Stevens. The now pin-up legend fought off the likes of "100 Sexiest" double-winners Jennifer Lopez and Cheryl Cole for the number one spot, without even topping the list before. By that time she had been in the list 11 times, appeared on 8 FHM covers and had been the 'FHM: 100 Sexiest Women in the World' runner-up not once, not twice but thrice! Rachel declared:
"To win this award feels absolutely amazing. I've worked with FHM for the past decade and a half. I feel such a strong bond to the magazine and it's so flattering to think that people think of me that way. It's brilliant".
FHM analyzed Rachel's trajectory: "After Simon Fuller picked up with S Club in 1999 where he left off with the Spice Girls, there was no way that the band could ever really fail. But no one could have predicted just how big they would become, or what an integral part they'd play, not just in British pop music but pop culture, too. Go to any wedding and watch the dance floor swell with chorus-singing men and women of all ages when an S Club record comes on, the true measure of classic pop songs". According to FHM, Rachel was the real front person in S Club 7. They declared: "As the band rose and fell, Rachel knew how to become a celebrity in her own right, both as a solo artist and as a sex symbol of the noughties".
In her last ever interview with FHM, Rachel concluded that being sexy is a timeless thing:
"As you get older it's a wise kind of sexy"
FHM ALL-TIME SEXIEST WOMEN IN THE WORLD POSITION:
FHM Indonesia and FHM Russia.
2015: The END of FHM
In November 2015 it was officially announced on FHM's website that the Magazine was to suspend its publication. At the turn of the millennium FHM was selling almost 700,000 copies per month, but that figure fell below 100,000 in 2014 and continued its downward trend. The most recent circulation figures put the magazine on 72,180 copies per month in early 2015. Nonetheless, according to Bauer Media, FHM and Zoo had a combined digital audience of over five million. Gareth Cherriman, publisher of the FHM and Zoo, said: "I would like to thank our advertisers and retailers who have supported the brands and I’m sure that everyone who has worked on FHM and ZOO over the years will be sorry to hear this news".
On January 2016, Rachel appeared in a one off special documentary on ITV2, "The Last of the Lads' Mags", to celebrate the end of an era with FHM. The documentary followed staff at the magazine and included interviews with past publication cover stars as FHM prepared to circulate it’s final issue.
The documentary took a nostalgic look back at the “glory years” of the magazine, of which Rachel was a huge part as we have already seen. After thirty years, the last ever issue of FHM UK was released on July 2016 featuring Holly Willoughby, who you might remember from the S Club 7 days. Holly's first participation on television was in 2000 when she won the audition for the CITV show featuring S Club 7 called S Club TV. She also appeared on S Club 7's third television special called 'Artistic Differences' where she played the character called Zoe.