October 13, 2015

Playboy gets rid of the pictures of naked ladies — because they're "just passé."

"As part of a redesign that will be unveiled next March, the print edition of Playboy will still feature women in provocative poses. But they will no longer be fully nude."
Its executives admit that Playboy has been overtaken by the changes it pioneered. “That battle has been fought and won,” said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

For a generation of American men, reading Playboy was a cultural rite, an illicit thrill consumed by flashlight. Now every teenage boy has an Internet-connected phone instead....
Ah, the end of an era. My father was one of Playboy's original fans, going back to the first issue, which was in 1953. I was born in 1951, and I don't remember a time, growing up, when I didn't see Playboy openly displayed on the coffee table in the living room. Maybe somewhere there was "a generation of American men," ogling Playboy as "an illicit thrill," but my father, a member of "the greatest generation," was an adult married man when the great magazine began, and I, a baby boomer, never saw the publication as illicit. The idea that the internet, with "every sex act imaginable for free," has ousted the naked ladies from Playboy seems rather absurd. But the magazine lives on, and cutting out the nudity seems to be a way to bring in the younger audience:
There will still be a Playmate of the Month, but the pictures will be “PG-13” and less produced — more like the racier sections of Instagram. “A little more accessible, a little more intimate,” [Flanders] said. It is not yet decided whether there will still be a centerfold.
Its sex columnist, [top editor Cory] Jones said, will be a “sex-positive female,” writing enthusiastically about sex. And Playboy will continue its tradition of investigative journalism, in-depth interviews and fiction.... Some of the moves, like expanded coverage of liquor, are partly commercial, Mr. Flanders admitted; the magazine must please its core advertisers. And all the changes have been tested in focus groups with an eye toward attracting millennials — people between the ages of 18 and 30-something, highly coveted by publishers. The magazine will feature visual artists, with their work dotted through the pages, in part because research revealed that younger people are drawn to art.
Good for you, younger people, drawn to art. At some point, perhaps, you've seen enough photography of nakedness, and drawing and painting are new. The Playboy I remember had plenty of art. All those cartoons... and Vargas.

52 comments:

Curious George said...

It's a magazine. It's history.

madAsHell said...

A completely naked woman has dropped her mystic.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The magazine will feature visual artists, with their work dotted through the pages, in part because research revealed that younger people are drawn to art.

Maybe they'll have a lot of Renoir

Laslo Spatula said...

"Vargas."

Wow: I just posted "Pat Nagel" in the previous post earlier this morning.

My antennae are attuned.

I am Laslo.

Hagar said...

Playboy was rather Joe College until 1968, when supposedly a cop at the Chicago Convention rapped Hefner across the kidneys with his nightstick and radicalized him, but I think Bob Guccione starting up Penthouse and eating into his readership had a lot more to do with Playboy going raunchy. A race to the bottom, so to speak.

Hagar said...

or rather, bottoms.

Laslo Spatula said...

Add to Vargas and Nagel on the list of Playboy artists:

LeRoy Neiman.

I am Laslo.

Graham Powell said...

They publish a lot of good fiction, including a recent story by a guy named Scott Wolven who not many have heard of outside of mystery fandom. I think they're guessing there's a large audience who wants to read their articles but can't because their wives object.

tim in vermont said...

Amazing how many times in the 70s the curtains didn't match the carpet.

http://playmates1970to1979.tumblr.com/

Meade said...

"And Playboy will continue its tradition of investigative journalism, in-depth interviews and fiction.... "

For those of us who, of course, only read it for the articles.

rhhardin said...

Larry Flynt, talking to Imus long ago, said that men liked looking at vaginas and the rest was history. The Supreme Court came in somehow in the historical playout. Hustler forced a Playboy move to compete eventually. Tits and ass wasn't cutting it.

Vaginas catch men's interest owing to wiring, and makes no more sense to men than to anybody else.

There were social benefits. Hustler convinced an ex-gf that she wasn't unusual anatomically, surely a good thing.

Vagina sales at magazine prices probably aren't that great a deal today. Is Hustler even around?

Mark Caplan said...

Another instance of Sharia creep.

Meade said...

"Hustler convinced an ex-gf that she wasn't unusual anatomically, surely a good thing."

Playgirl magazine did something similar for me.

tim in vermont said...

Lucky Ann.

tim maguire said...

The Playboy I remember actually was worth reading for the articles. That may still be the case, I haven't read it in a while.

YoungHegelian said...

And all the changes have been tested in focus groups with an eye toward attracting millennials — people between the ages of 18 and 30-something, highly coveted by publishers. The magazine will feature visual artists, with their work dotted through the pages, in part because research revealed that younger people are drawn to art.

I think I just discovered a stock that I should short.

Bay Area Guy said...

“That battle has been fought and won,” said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free.

I think that's probably true. But then the question becomes, What did we win?

Are people happier? Are relations between men and women better? Are families stronger? Is the single-dating scene more enjoyable? Are kids being raised in happier, healthier homes? Are long-term marriages a relic of the past?

I don't have the answers. I've been married now 20 years, and very much love my wife and kids. I kinda feel like we've built something lasting. Between the extremes of a sexually-repressed society and a sexually-licentious society, like most folks I simply muddle along through the middle. But it is interesting that Playboy has decided to dial it back a notch, after basically winning the cultural wars.

William said...

The rap used to be that Playboy was where the best writers parked their worst writing. The interviews were good, but the prestige writers were more an excuse than an attraction. Men will still retain an interest in naked women, but this is now an obsolete delivery system. An era ends. The last hitching post outside the saloon is taken down, and the saloon becomes a Starbucks. .......Will Playboy still be printed old school in poor third world countries where men don't have access to the Internet?

Jake said...

I gotta say, I prefer Vargas to Renoir.

damikesc said...

Its executives admit that Playboy has been overtaken by the changes it pioneered. “That battle has been fought and won,” said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

Hmmm, I wonder what publication started that trend? It's like hearing Madonna criticize how coarse culture is. And I wonder if its founder mocked people who noticed that what he was doing likely was negative for society overall. Oh well. He made his fortune and society is a shit hole, so all's good, right?

Gee, thanks. We said that about what you were doing and you laughed at us. So, go fuck yourself.

And Playboy will continue its tradition of investigative journalism, in-depth interviews and fiction

They will suck but will have feminists applauding them for sucking WITHOUT the use of tits.

Then their sales will absolutely crater and you'll see tits again.

Playboy had tits and vag for a reason --- because their writing was hardly enough to keep people interested. It's gotten worse.

So, it's a less interesting Maxim now. Grand.

Why would I read Playboy's terrible writing without the promise of tits?

people between the ages of 18 and 30-something, highly coveted by publishers. The magazine will feature visual artists, with their work dotted through the pages, in part because research revealed that younger people are drawn to art. Good for you, younger people, drawn to art.

Coloring books aren't widely viewed as art.

They publish a lot of good fiction, including a recent story by a guy named Scott Wolven who not many have heard of outside of mystery fandom. I think they're guessing there's a large audience who wants to read their articles but can't because their wives object.

...because people will know that they no longer have tits or vag decades after they had both for decades.

Playboy is on the vanguard of feminist pornography. Let's insure sex is dull and blah all of the time, people!!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I only ever read it for the articles.

The thes and ans were nothing special, but they had some damn cute as.

Steve said...

I just saw some "Twerking" and thought to myself,"What's next, full nude dance floor?"

I guess everything exists in a cycle. Playboy lead the country into the sexual revolution and is now leading us out.

roadgeek said...

I had several hundred of the Playboy Special Edition/Newsstand Special/Book of Lingerie magazines I had accumulated over the years. Playboy started publishing those back in the 70's and stopped in 2012. Each issue had nothing but pictures of the most beautiful women in the world, with no advertising. They were awesome, although for my part I had lost interest in buying them when pubic hair disappeared in the late 90's. (It's a fetish. What can I say?) I put them all on eBay and sold them off over a period of a year, netting nearly four thousand dollars for the whole collection. There are still men who appreciate beauty in a traditional setting, without the sleaze factor of contemporary porn, but apparently not enough to sustain Playboy. (That was the other thing that ruined the Special Editions for me, was the tattoos. Tatted women turn me off. Tats make them look ridden hard and put away wet.)

Shawn Levasseur said...

Retooling Playboy makes sense. It was being shelved with the porn magazines, while magazines that were more like Playboy, only without the nudity such as Maxim were more openly displayed.

This gets Playboy out of the porn ghetto, where it was never going to compete. Realistically, given what can be seen in many magazines outside of the porn shelf, Playboy as is could be moved out of the porn section, but not easily, and not without some resistance. Thus they had to do this.

Brando said...

Was anyone still getting their porn through print magazines?

jr565 said...

They still publish Playboy?

Otto said...

"...... My father was one of Playboy's original fans, going back to the first issue, which was in 1953. I was born in 1951, and I don't remember a time, growing up, when I didn't see Playboy openly displayed on the coffee table in the living room......." not a surprising upbringing for a Jersey princess. Money but no class.

JSD said...

Obviously, the magazine industry died long ago. But, magazines in the 60’s were spectacular. Full of fantastic high quality advertising work selling cars, booze, clothing etc. All printed on super high quality coated paper. They were collaborative works of art. Long ago, I had a summer job at Champion International Company where they made the coated paper stock for National Geographic. The process was painstaking, but quality was just incredible. Nothing like it exists today. Magazines started to look like shit in the 80’s.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

So they plan is to be a slightly less-gay GQ with fiction and some Maxim-level pics then? Definitely worth a subscription....

etienne said...
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virgil xenophon said...

IIRC the great sports artist Leroy Neiman got his start (or was made famous) in Playboy. Contrary to all the jokes, Playboy really was a magazine that one read as much for the articles as for the sex.

And their cartoons were classic. I have cut out and framed the one from the sixties where two skid-row winos are sitting, leaning on a garbage can in a back alley drinking, with one saying to the other: "It's not a great wine, but it's a good wine." LOL!

Peter said...

"Did you have Playgirl displayed openly for your boys to learn? If not, do you see a double standard perhaps?"

1. (Practically) everyone has always understood that the primary audience for Playgirl was homosexual men, not women.

2. Double standards seem evil only to those who are convinced that sex is mostly socially constructed. Those of us who understand that sex is rooted in a reproductive biology that evolved under Darwinian evolutionary pressures are not surprised that male and female mating strategies differ. Or that double standards may reflect these differences.

Steven said...

Penthouse tried going full-Hustler, and went bankrupt.

Playboy, on the other hand, still has better circulation than Hustler, but inferior to Maxim, GQ, and Esquire.

The place to go is pretty obvious, if they're not just going to fold.

Bill Harshaw said...

Took a while for it to penetrate the rural hinterlands. I believe I first knew about in in 1959 when my college roommate had a centerfold taped to his bookcase.

buster said...

@ Virgil zenophon 11:08

I remember that cartoon, and LOL indeed.

buster said...

xenophon

Mick said...

Even the greatest of things, with repetition, become commonplace.

madAsHell said...

Amazing how many times in the 70s the curtains didn't match the carpet.

....and then they got rid of the carpets.

damikesc said...

So they plan is to be a slightly less-gay GQ with fiction and some Maxim-level pics then?

Oh, I wouldn't bet on it being less-gay than GQ.

steve said...

Might as well have a cook book without recipes.

Rick said...

Its sex columnist, [top editor Cory] Jones said, will be a “sex-positive female,” writing enthusiastically about sex.

Feminists are pushing equal pay for Hollywood stars which means they believe audience preference cannot be a justification for earnings differences, at the very least this requires gender-norming. Why then do they believe it appropriate to exclude heterosexual men from entire job classes?

eric said...

It all started with dad and his pornography, openly displayed on the coffee table for any passerby to see. But it ended with millions of abortions, college rape culture, gay marriage, and......?

There is no slippery slope, clearly.

n.n said...

Hefner normalized the concept of progressive morality.

However, it is well established that with a stable orientation, yesterday's progressive will be today's conservative. I wonder when Hugh hit the slippery slope.

n.n said...
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n.n said...

eric:

Abortion and cannibalism (aka "Planning"). Also, class guilt, constructed congruences, etc. All part of the State-established pro-choice [religious] doctrine.

etienne said...

One thing to also consider, is the men who actually bought the magazine, are dying like fish in the sea. Disregarding the failed economics of print media.

Beldar said...
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Beldar said...
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Beldar said...

This is tragic -- the unforced, unimaginative, suicidal forfeiture of one of the most valuable tradename/trademark/IP resources in the world. As a business decision, this rivals "New Coke."

Like Prof. Althouse's father, my father subscribed and collected. Issues came in the proverbial plain brown (obscuratory) wrapper, and they were freely available to me. In a household and small town starved for reading material, I read many years' collections quite literally and methodically cover to cover.

But in small towns in Texas, and probably all towns in Texas, they weren't on many coffee tables. They were in bedrooms.

Paul Snively said...

Laslo, unsurprisingly, beat me to it. I was going to say "as long as it really is Alberto Vargas and not Patrick Nagel," whose conception of feminine allure always seemed so linear and hard to me. So much so that I always assumed he was gay.

I am not Laslo.

Douglas said...

Everyone seems to be missing the real story. Playboy loses money in the US. It operates the US magazine as a loss leader for its overseas operations, which are profitable. Those overseas operations are about to get a whole lot more profitable since dumping the nudity was apparently the price for distribution in China.

It's strictly business, Sonny, strictly business.

Joe said...

Over the years they transitioned from the girl-next-door to the porn-star-next-door. The amount of plastic made it more Playware.

Over the same time, it moved from left leaning libertarian politics, to far left politics.

It has an iconic brand, so it will interesting to see what happens.