When I first heard about this,several weeks ago,I thought it was a joke.My local paper reported on this yesterday,and I checked,so apparently it's true.
I would've thought that my initial reaction would've been something akin to "they're making a huge mistake,the magazine'll be dead within a year"...but the more I think about it,maybe that's not what'll happen.
When Playboy made its debut in the ultra-conservative,button-down mid-1950s,I can only imagine the sensational reaction.Back then,how easy was it for someone to get a photograph of a female nude,much less a quality one,without having to risk being seen patronizing a little store in a socially questionable section of town? These days...well,if you're reading this,you're on a computer...on the internet...heck,look at the site you're on! Seeing an image of a nude woman's not exactly a difficult proposition these days,is it?
I myself haven't bought,or even looked at an issue of Playboy in years...more than two decades,I think...you know the old joke about the person who doesn't read Playboy,he just looks at the pictures? In a way,that's me. I did subscribe,for a year,back in the 90's,largely because I thought it would increase my chances of winning the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes...Playboy was the only magazine available through them that interested me...I found myself disenchanted by the fact that the nudity only made up a small portion of a typical issue,the rest being reviews,socio-political commentary,fiction,men's fashion,electronics,etc. etc.,none of which I cared about,so when the year passed,I chose not to renew.Got a lot of the newsstand specials,though.
When it comes to sexual material,I don't like hardcore. Never did. The more explicit it is,the less is left to the imagination. I watched an X-rated movie once,didn't like it. In my lifetime,I've only bought two issues of Penthouse,one featuring a pictorial of Pia Zadora right after she made The Lonely Lady,the other had 80's Brit topless-model-turned-singer Samantha Fox...and the pictures were clearly not taken by anyone at the magazine. In high school,someone once showed me their issue of Hustler...what I saw so horrified me,it took me years to get those images out of my head. But then,what do you expect from a magazine published by someone who supposedly once had sex with a chicken?!
My ongoing quest to find a source of softcore material led me to accidentally discover the British adult mag Mayfair sometime in 1988...I found myself captivated with it,but the romance was short-lived. Around '91,a new publisher took over and made it into a hardcore magazine. Did that clown even read all the letters they got,praising them for being "not like all the pornographic trash that dominates the market"?!?
Anyone who's been following MAD since publisher Bill Gaines died knows that magazine is also not what it once was...changing times,many of its founding contributors are gone,and it's down to six issues a year...but it's still here. MAD and Playboy,odd though the comparison may initially seem,were both the first of their kind.They set standards others tried to imitate.
What the future holds for Playboy is anybody's guess.