Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Topless Girls No Longer Turn David on; David Sullivan Made His Millions through Porn. Now He Wants to Make a Success of a New, Sleaze-Free Sunday Paper, Reports NAOMI MARKS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Topless Girls No Longer Turn David on; David Sullivan Made His Millions through Porn. Now He Wants to Make a Success of a New, Sleaze-Free Sunday Paper, Reports NAOMI MARKS

Article excerpt

Byline: NAOMI MARKS

DAVID Sullivan has not enjoyed watching fellow soft-porn publisher Richard Desmond picking up the reins at Express Newspapers. True, over the past 30 years, Sullivan, proprietor of the Sunday and Daily Sport, has amassed a personal fortune of hundreds of millions of pounds. True, he takes incalculable pleasure from occupying his private box at Birmingham City FC, in which he owns a big stake.

But it's not enough. The papers under his control are profitable - to the tune of [pound]10 million, he says - but they are, by his own admission, "bottom of the barrel", "sleazy" and "a tiny, tiny percentage of the market". Which is why, sometime in the next 10 months, Sullivan, 52, plans to launch his own, non-pornographic Sunday paper.

It is not his preferred option for entering the market. When Desmond swooped on Express Newspapers last year, Sullivan could have kicked himself.

"To be honest," he says, clad in his beloved City strip and sucking on a succession of sweets. "I think Richard Desmond has pulled off a wonderful deal and I'd love to have done it myself. Had I known the possibility was there, I would have been very tempted.

"I've always thought it easier to take over a declining title than to launch a new one." But he knows that if he, and not Desmond, had bought Express Newspapers, the reaction would have been every bit as negative.

"The Press always gives you tags.

Me, I'm 'porn baron', 'sex king', and whatever I do that's my tag." He would rather just be seen as a successful businessman.

"The porn world shuts doors on you. And that's why I have a great desire to make a success of an orthodox paper and why I've got to say I admire what Richard Desmond has done and wish I'd done it myself."

Sullivan believes he has little in common with Desmond, who, he says, is more aggressive, has fewer problems sacking people, and swears far more. "The common denominator is that we're both very hardworking. We're good businessmen. He's shrewd. You can't knock him for it." People in the soft-porn business, Sullivan maintains, are more like secondhand car salesmen than mafiosi. …

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