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).

These pictures were requested between January and April 1995 in Mean Machines Sega. Those marked with an asterisk were removed after excessive full frontal nudity incidents.

Parent dressed as Power Ranger - £50
Parent dressed as Smurf - £50
Human pyramid featuring six people - £45
Dressed up like Mortal Kombat II character - £40
Ugly teenage sister without makeup - £40
Mooning out of moving car - £40
Eating worm (must be bitten) - £35
Black eye from fight - £35
*Sister on loo - £35
Cheesy Wotsits protuding from nose, ears, gob and collar - £30
Space Hopper race - £30
(£10 bonus for more than five people)
Full makeover using sister/mum's cosmetics - £30
(£5 bonus if also in dress)
Egg juggling - £20
(£5 bonus if shown after dropping - on head)
Dressed up like a TV character - £30
Putting makeup on a sleeping dad - £30
False teeth in odd places - £25
(£5 bonus if worn by child)
Pants hoisted up flagpole - £25
(£5 bonus if skids visible)
*Completely covered in talcum powder - £20
Pop star look-alike - £20
Big operation scars - £20
Dog weeing on parent - £20
People being sick - £20
(£5 bonus for odd-coloured puddle)
Sideburn atrocities - £15
(£5 bonus if they meet at the chin)
Drop dead bad looks - £15
Filthy sports kit - £15
(£5 bonus if worn)
Covered in mud - £15
Spottiest person ever seen - £15
Skiddy underpants - £15
Hair dyed green, eyebrows purple - £15
Famous person falling over - £15
(£5 bonus if wearing a can of lager)
"Kick Me" notice on teacher's back - £15
Borrowing relative's toupee - £15
Flushing relative's toupee down toilet - £15
(£10 bonus if already "engaged")
Parents drunk at parties - £10
The biggest pants you can find - £10
Entire Kit-Kat in mouth - £10
Fat mums - £10
(£10 bonus if in swimming cossie)
Younger brother bound and gagged in cupboard - £10
Gus Swan at university - £10
(£10 bonus if in dodgy student coat)
Bad haircuts - £7.50
Wearing any of the following - £5 per item
Moon boots
Deerstalker hat (with flaps down)
Smurf T-shirt
Matching vest and pants
Socks with garters
Tramps - £10
(£10 bonus if playing football)
Bad haircuts - £10
Paul Bufton at school - £10

Y'know, now I come back to these, they all seem a bit childish. I nearly wet myself laughing the first time around. But these things happen when you grow up. Fortunately for my childhood illusions, I can't find any old comics around the house. These, then, remain as funny as they ever have. Wait. They weren't that funny at the time anyway. Dang.

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