Why a lack of nudes won’t kill ‘Playboy’
By Ed Appleby, Illustrator
I remember my first Playboy; I was a tender 14 years old on a trip to Disneyland with my family, and discovered it stashed under the sink in our hotel bathroom. Like several generations of young cisgender straight men before me, this began my sexual awakening. So it is with mixed feelings that I learned that, after 62 years, Playboy plans to stop publishing nudes.
The logic behind this decision can’t be argued. In a new world where high-definition pornography of every type is only a few keystrokes away, tastefully airbrushed bunnies just cannot compete. Even in the past, Playboy’s nudes couldn’t hold a candle to the graphic nature of Hustler or other magazines, where titillation was the driving force. And by providing such imagery, Playboy had been placed on the back shelf, out of the hands of younger readers for years. And most social media have very strict rules about what you can share, so Playboy gets cut out of that market entirety.
So why continue at all? Without the ability to display perfect mammaries, what is to stop Playboy from becoming just another GQ or—heaven forbid—Maxim? Believe it or not, it’s because of the articles.
The nudes in Playboy were a provocative product of its time, and through the ’50s and ’60s Playboy was the standard bearer for the sexual revolution. Playboy has also published short stories from up and coming novelists such as Ian Fleming, Margaret Atwood, and Arthur C. Clarke. For a cartoonist, getting published in Playboy is second only to the New Yorker.
The Playboy Interview series, a collection of extensive and in-depth interviews with contemporary movers and shakers has been so riveting that some of them have even been expanded into full books. The articles themselves have always been a well-written source of opinions and information, ranging from somewhat sexist male bravado to full-on feminist reflections on society.
And even though the nudes will be done away with, Playboy has promised a little bit of titillation with racy but tasteful photography aimed at their primarily male audience. Although we shouldn’t rule out nakedness altogether, pick up any European edition of GQ or Esquire and you are sure to see a couple of nipples popping up to say hello.
The Playboy brand is one of the strongest and most recognized in the world. By dropping the focus on nudes they can rightly take their place as a dignified and sexually free source of entertainment and information; more of a racy New Yorker than a magazine aimed at getting you off.