Retired Edinburgh teacher’s secret life as a 70’s Jackie model

Ian Deacon at the Festival Theatre. Picture: Greg Macvean
Ian Deacon at the Festival Theatre. Picture: Greg Macvean
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MILLIONS of girls swooned over Ian Deacon in the 1970s. The retired teacher, a familiar face to pupils and parents at a number of Capital primary schools, has a secret, you see.

Before embarking on his teaching career at Sighthill Primary in 1973, he was cover model for Jackie, the iconic girls’ magazine that no 70s teenager worth their flares would be without.

Memories of his modelling days came flooding back when it was announced Jackie The Musical would be touring to The King’s.

“The Jackie thing seems to recur every five years ,for some reason or other,” he laughs, “but then I suppose the magazine was such a big thing for women of a certain age, it is now a treasured memory.”

Written by Mike James, with choreography by Arlene Phillips, the musical, which opens at the Old Lady of Leven Street next week, revisits a time devoid of mobile phones, apps, texting, e-mails or Twitter. A time when angst-ridden teenage girls waited with bated breath for their weekly issue of Jackie.

Unfolding to a soundtrack of hits by Donny Osmond, David Cassidy and Marc Bolan, Jackie The Musical is the story of a 50-something divorcée, who returns to her stash of well-thumbed Jackies for the same reason she first read them, advice on how best to navigate the opposite sex.

The quizzes, the fashion tips, the ‘do’s and don’ts on a first date’ and above all the Cathy and Claire problem pages are all reread by our heroine as she rediscovers her teen bible.

And then, of course, there are the cover models, but just how did you land such a high profile job?

“They found me in The Bothy Bar in Dundee,” Ian recalls.

“It was the ‘in’ spot and one night this girl I sort of knew asked if I fancied getting my picture taken for the Jackie, and that they’d give me some money.

“It was while I was doing my teaching course, so it was a good source of supplementary funds to add to my grant.”

A few weeks later Ian was invited to go to the offices of DC Thomson, the publishers of Jackie, for a test shoot.

“I found myself with this Valentine’s thing around my neck... and that was that start of it. Between 1970 and early 73 I must have appeared on the front cover perhaps 15 to 20 times.”

One shoot earned the student teacher the princely sum of five pound, although locations weren’t exactly exotic.

“They whisked me off to places like Scone Palace and St Andrews. Once they took me to Glasgow for a full day - I got about £15 for that one,” he says.

There, Ian found himself working with Heather, one of the famous ‘Tennents Lager Lovelies’, although being professional, Heather was on a far higher fee for the job.

“Occasionally they hired professional models, I think they got about £50.”

Another of Ian’s claims to fame is that he graced the cover of the first issue of Jackie to sell more than 1 million copies.

He recalls, “I remember a shoot in St Andrews where we got one of those old message bikes, with a basket on the front.

“The girl had to sit in the basket where the messages went, while I sat behind her, smiling as usual. I thought, ‘If I topple over...’ who knows what would have happened.

“There was also a shoot where we were in boat on the river, being all romantic, with the photographers on a bridge above us... but other times, we just went around the back of the DC Thomson building and took them there.”

Despite having his image on newsstands across the country, Ian is modest about what he calls his “five minutes of fame”.

He chuckles, “I guess some lasses did recognise me, but they weren’t queueing up outside my dad’s house waiting for me to come out after my tea, although I did get asked for my autograph once... by a mother, who wanted a Jackie signed for her daughter.”

Despite offers to pursue a career in modelling in London, Ian stuck with the teaching, arriving in Edinburgh in 1973, where over the years, his past has occasionally caught up with him.

“I taught at Blackhall for 28 years, until I retired in 2011, and there were a couple of occasions where kids came in and said, ‘My mum has got a picture of you. Which I always found funny.”

One thing Ian doesn’t miss are some of the fashions, which were supplied by local boutiques.

“They weren’t too bad,” he says, “and there’s a nice orange jersey I could still wear yet, but the moustache went back in the 90s.

“There’s another cover... I have a blue shirt on, opened down to the waist - I’m not so keen on that one. That was of its time.”

A keen tennis player, Ian’s secret came out recently at the David Lloyd Centre in Corstorphine, where he regularly plays.

“When my friends found out it went round the crowd like wildfire,” he smiles.

“These women, all in their 60s now, were fascinated by the fact I was a Jackie model. It was embarrassing at first but now I’m quite proud I did it.”

Jackie The Musical, King’s Theatre, Leven Street, Tuesday-Saturday, 7.30pm (matinees 2.30pm), £18.50-£33.50, 0131-529 6000