Cash for Photos
was possibly the ultimate reader participation scheme/scam ever devised (well ... apart from Reader's Wives
perhaps). Although you might think that nobody would go to some of the extremes that the Mean Machines
staff put on the list, nearly every one
of the categories was attempted by some poor soul. (I think that only the really obscure ones like "Tramps playing football" or "celebrity falling over w. can of lager in hand" were never claimed.)
As many readers raided their old photo albums for pictures of particularly remarkable spectacles, they often managed to incorporate several bonus points for Bad Haircuts. Occasionally a photo entered for one category would win another one entirely. There was also a spate of very staged looking shots, particularly "little brother bound and gagged in cupboard" and "KICK ME sign on teacher's back", which still got printed, but incurred a slight penalty to the prize money. To this day I still wonder about what the legality of this feature was, and how it affected the mag's circulation.
Some of the best photos printed included 'Cheesy wotsits in every orifice' and 'Six Man Haircut Disaster' (a human pyramid snapped in the late 1970's).