Playboy will be nude-free from 2016… noooooooo!

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The shocking announcement of Playboy new CEO to stop nudidity in the magazine was a canon ball in the media landscape. With more than 7 million copies in circulation in the 70’s, today the magazine is around 800’000 copies. Did Online porn kill Playboy. Probably. There is no more mystery. There is no more “the girl next door” and probably there is also a big crisis in Print where only the big brands will survive. Here is a retrospective of one of the most iconic men’s magazine.

Playboy-cover

Playboy and the myth of the pin up

It was founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner’s mother. Notable for its centerfolds of nude and semi-nude models (Playmates), Playboy played an important role in the sexual revolution and remains one of the world’s best known brands, having grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with a presence in nearly every medium. In addition to the flagship magazine in the United States, special nation-specific versions of Playboy are published worldwide.

The magazine has a long history of publishing short stories by notable novelists such as Arthur C. Clarke, Ian Fleming, Vladimir Nabokov,  Saul Bellow, Chuck Palahniuk, P. G. Wodehouse, Haruki Murakami, and Margaret Atwood. With a regular display of full-page color cartoons, it became a showcase for notable cartoonists, including Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Cole, Eldon Dedini, Jules Feiffer, Shel Silverstein, Erich Sokol, Roy Raymonde, Gahan Wilson, and Rowland B. Wilson. Playboy features monthly interviews of notable public figures, such as artists, architects, economists, composers, conductors, film directors, journalists, novelists, playwrights, religious figures, politicians, athletes and race car drivers. The magazine generally reflects a liberal editorial stance, although it often interviews conservative celebrities.

Playboy initiated the myth of the Pin-up girl. Basically the girl we pin on the wall. The first edition in 1953 featured Marilyn Monroe. Two icons were born: Marilyn Monroe and Playboy. In a very Puritan America, the first edition of Playboy features a cover with a 1949 Marilyn Monroe photo. The magazine ambition was very clear from the start. In the editor’s letter you could read: “we are not a family magazine”. In that first year 50’000 single men bought the magazine. Since the 50’s, Playboy became the ultimate icon of masculine entertainment and represented a all spectrum of imagination for several generation of men.

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Playboy, an amazing marketing brand

With the sexual emancipation of the 60’s and the 70’s, Playboy started to expand very fast. Hugh Hefner opens the “PlayBoy clubs”. The Playboy Club initially was a chain of nightclubs and resorts. The first club opened at 116 E. Walton Street in downtown Chicago, Illinois, United States, on February 29, 1960. Each club generally featured a Living Room, a Playmate Bar, a Dining Room, and a Club Room. Members and their guests were served food and drinks by Playboy Bunnies, some of whom were featured in Playboy magazine. The clubs offered name entertainers and comedians in the Club Rooms, and local musicians and the occasional close-up magician in the Living Rooms.

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Another interesting development was TV shows called “Playboy Penthouse”. It was first broadcast on October 24, 1959 and ran in syndication for slightly more than one year with a second season starting on September 9, 1961. The show was designed as a way to spread Playboy magazine’s influence beyond the printed page and to help non-readers get to know Hefner. The show, recorded at Chicago station WBKB-TV, was set up as if it were a party at Hefner’s own apartment, with many Playboy Playmates and bunnies in attendance. Celebrity guests would engage in conversation with Hefner and then perform, as well.

For decades hundreds of playmates performed the cover of Playboy. For most of them it was a career launch. Some quite anonymous and others already celebrities. All of them got a career booster when they became the Playboy cover girl.

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From queen Madonna, to sulfurous Lindsay Loan or the “brindille” Kate Moss, hundreds of celebrities did the “nude” exercice at least once. Others like Pamela Anderson has the number of cover’s record with 13 covers since 1989.

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Pamela-Anderson-Play-boy-cover-1991Pamela-Anderson-Play-boy-cover-1991
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Pamela-Anderson-Playboy-cover-1996Pamela-Anderson-Playboy-cover-1996
Pamela-Anderson-Playboy-cover-1997Pamela-Anderson-Playboy-cover-1997
Pamela-Anderson-Playboy-cover-1998Pamela-Anderson-Playboy-cover-1998
Pamela-Anderson-Playboy-cover-1999Pamela-Anderson-Playboy-cover-1999
Pamela-Anderson-Playboy-cover-2001Pamela-Anderson-Playboy-cover-2001
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Pamela-Anderson-Playboy-cover-2007Pamela-Anderson-Playboy-cover-2007
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Playboy, the last nude issue with Pamela Anderson

Next January 2016, Playboy will release the last nude edition. After that, no more nudes in the magazine and more a consensual lifestyle imagery. To mark the last edition, Playboy picked up the biggest playmate of all, Pamela Anderson, to be featured in the cover and the magazine. Probably a tribute to one of the most popular pin-ups of all. Here is the cover:
Pamela-Anderson-Last-Playboy-cover

This last issue marks the end of an era. Scott Flanders, Playboy CEO (since 2009) explained that it is not anymore a distinctive point to publish nude pictures. Today everybody can find every kind of nude online and for free. The main goal for Playboy is to attract a younger and new audience. Mr Flanders declared that there will always be a playmate of the month, but the pictures will be rated PG-13

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Playboy, the new era more lifestyle than never.

It is definitely a big change for such an icon of sexiness. Unfortunately the decision is taken. Not sure what to expect from the new editorial line of the magazine. The move follows the company’s decision last year to remove nudity from its website, a change which it says quadrupled online traffic from around 4 million unique visitors a month to 16 million, and led to the average age of its readers dropping from 47-years-old to just over 30. After the print redesign, the magazine will continue to publish a mixture of interviews, fiction, and investigative journalism, as well as introducing more artwork and a female “sex-positive” columnist.

“The difference between us and Vice,”Flanders told the Times, “is that we’re going after the guy with a job.”

Let’s wait for the first issue of the year and judge if the content is strong enough to live for itself or if it is the beginning of the end!

LA

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Info sourced at Playboy website and official communication release. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. All images are for illustration purposes only. 

José Amorim

José Amorim has been working in the luxury industry for more than 15 years. In the past 8 years, he joined his personal passion for digital culture and his luxury background to develop digital strategies for premium brands. He is the founder of LuxuryActivist.com and is happy to share his passion here.