Playboy no more: Total nudity is outLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Playboy no more: When the beast tames beauty

Playboy has, perhaps, never quite gotten the respect it deserves — until now. And that’s because it has become rather ordinary. After all, if at first you start losing hold of your success, try again to lower your standards. Maybe settle for fewer important interviews, try using the same few photographers for photoshoots, and by all means put some clothes on those gorgeous professionals whose bodies sell your magazine!

Hugh M. Hefner photographed at an event in 2010. (Wiki Commons)

Hugh M. Hefner photographed at an event in 2010. (Wiki Commons)

Yep, somewhere along the line, Hugh Hefner and his crowd of Playmates must have gotten some silly advice (Not that the man hasn’t always been a bit silly).

The most wholesome guy in my high school used to go around telling a joke about porn and the internet. He’d say, “What would it be like if we woke up without the internet? I’ll tell you. There’d be panic. Business owners and educators and politicians and promising young men and women everywhere would wake up, take a look at the blank screen, and wail like Captain John Sparrow ala Pirates of the Caribbean, ‘Where has all the porn gone?!’ That’s what it would be like.”

It’s easy to blame the strength of that connection, and the ease with which people can access pornographic material via the web, for the October announcement that Playboywould no longer emplore its buyers to dish out money for a magazine subscription. And yet, if your magazine’s primary selling point is nudity, stripping the naked factor seems a poor strategy to boost profit. I mean, McDonald’s may be trying to clean up their act too, but you don’t see them taking French fries and McFlurries off the menu. After all, they’re not Trader Joes or Whole Foods, they’re the place you eat when you want greasy, salty food that packs a sizable caloric punch. Likewise, Playboy is not People Magazine. And even if it were, People manages to publish some downright dirty stuff.

Irrational rationale aside, their sales plot also failed to consider another element that once sold their product: the articles. I’m joking, right? Wrong.

Playboy interviewers have spoken to musicians like Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Miles Davis. They published even the most controversial words from the likes of the likable Jimmy Carter, as well as a modern day societal antagonist, American Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell. They got Stanley Kubrick to defend the merits of his works’ ambiguity, and Bette Davis to wax poetic on abortion and gay rights. They’ve classed it up a bit with Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra. More recently, they got Sean Combs (Diddy) to talk about modern music and 30-hour sexcapades in the same article. And that’s just scratching the surface.

The November 1976 issue with the Jimmy Carter interview. 1977 Playmate of the Year Patti McGuire. (eBay)

The November 1976 issue with the Jimmy Carter interview. 1977 Playmate of the Year Patti McGuire. (eBay)

Our own Tim Forkes, editor and contributor for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, remembers reading many of those articles, particularly during the sixties and seventies.

“[Jimmy Carter] did the interview before getting the Democratic nomination. In 1966 Alex Haley, author of Roots, interviewed the leader of the American Nazi Party George Lincoln Rockwell. That same year they interviewed the Beatles.

The last interview they did that I liked was Sean Puffy Combs,” he wrote. And I basically just soaked up the words and copied them. Then pasted them.

But the point is, he remembered the articles. Yes, it may have been a good joke for men to insist they subscribed to a magazine with nude photos “just for the articles” (or the interviews), but there was a little underlying truth to that claim.

From YouTube video of a Playboy Mansion party.

From YouTube video of a Playboy Mansion party.

After all, Forkes also remembers that while the women photographed were beautiful, their pictures weren’t that artfully displayed.

“The photography got repetitive,” he explained. “[It’s not] that the models looked the same, but they used the same two photographers and the same two photo/artistic directors so the photography just got boring.”

He mused that perhaps they were attempting to create some sort of uniformity, to sell a “brand” or “type” of Playboy Playmate.

Speaking of whom, getting undressed wasn’t the only thing these women were known for.

The March 2016 cover with Instagram model Sarah McDaniel. Photo by Theo Wenner, son of Rollings Stone founder Jan Wenner. (Yahoo)

The March 2016 cover with Instagram model Sarah McDaniel. Photo by Theo Wenner, son of Rollings Stone founder Jan Wenner. (Yahoo)

Forkes is a Marine Corps veteran, and reports that the beauties seen in centerfolds were also charitable off the page. They’ve been visiting men and women in uniform, as well as veterans since 1966 when “G.I. Jo” Collins, Miss December 1966 and Playmate of the Year 1967, went to Vietnam to deliver a lifetime subscription of the magazine to 2nd LT. John Price.

“When the Reagan Administration stopped the USO from using men’s magazine models for USO tours, the Playmates set up their own tours. They still do it here in California. In November they did a bunch of events to benefit the L.A. Food Bank, among other charities.”

Now, I’m not about to claim that Playboy or its founder are saints, nor am I going to paint this as a good or bad thing. But that’s the point. To paraphrase Jimmy Carter’s analysis of that whole “whosoever lusts in his heart” Bible passage, the temptation to judge a person or idea with a quick and easy label may be a strong pull, but in the end … it’s all relative.

The interesting point here is that stupidity appears to be the only result of any attempt to market, from a profit-seeking, groundbreaking angle. Is a non-nude stance “edgy” for Playboy? Yes. Is it smart? No.

About the author

Megan Wallin

Megan Wallin is a young writer with a background in the social sciences and an interest in seeking the extraordinary in the mundane. A Seattle native, she finds complaining about the constant drizzle and overabundance of Starbucks coffee therapeutic. With varied work experiences as a residential counselor, preprimary educator, musician, writing tutor and college newspaper reporter/editor, Megan is thrilled to offer a unique perspective through writing, research and open dialogue. Contact the author.

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