The New “Playboy”

It is certainly not the men’s magazine of your father’s generation.

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I have a friend who is a long time subscriber to “Playboy,” at least 50 years. Recently, he showed me the April 2016 issue which features a totally new format, with, among other things, no frontal nudity. When I first learned of this, I didn’t think much about it, but my friend was very upset and plans to cancel his subscription. As I reviewed the new magazine, it was unlike anything I had ever seen from “Playboy.”

The first thing you notice is the size and layout of the magazine, including the cover using a matte finish, not glossy like the old days. Obviously, the cigar magazines have greatly influenced the look and feel of the publication, such as “Cigar Aficionado,” “Cigar Snob,” and “Smoke.” “Playboy” now has similar full page ads featuring luxury items shot in classy settings.

There is still the “Playboy” interview, along with profiles of celebrities, but you no longer see any risque cartoons or ribald jokes, which were hallmarks of the publication years ago. I can only assume they were removed in order to become more politically correct. Gone are the legendary cartoonists such as Harvey Kurtzman, Eldon Dedini, Jules Feiffer, Shel Silverstein, Gahan Wilson, and Rowland B. Wilson.

I noticed most of the articles appear to be written by women now, not men, another sign of the changing times. Also gone are the days of the famous authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Ian Fleming, and Alex Haley. There are still articles on fashion, but not as many as in the past; nor did I see many short stories, mostly profiles.

Full frontal nudity has been eliminated and replaced by much softer images of women in underwear. I guess this is an admission “Playboy” can no longer compete with Internet pornography. Unfortunately, the women I saw in the magazine seemed very young, almost prepubescent, and nothing like “the girl next door” which the magazine used as their models. Now the women are skinny, gaunt, and look to be suffering from bulimia.

With all of these changes, “Playboy” has essentially morphed into “Esquire” magazine from which “Playboy” founder Hugh Hefner originally came from. Hefner’s name is still atop the magazine masthead as Editor-In-Chief, but it is nothing like it used to be. It seems clear the new “Playboy” is targeting the millennials exclusively.

To my generation, “Playboy” is no longer considered risque, naughty or just plain fun. Sadly, it has lost its way.

As for me, I’ll stick with the cigar magazines as they are much more interesting and meaningful. Frankly,  I don’t blame my friend for dropping the magazine. He is also a collector and tells me he has just about every issue from the early 1960’s in mint condition. It should be worth a fortune as “Playboy” is likely to fade into history.

Thanks for the memories Hef, it was quite a ride.

Keep the Faith!