“A young executive with an event-full calendar, the PLAYBOY reader knows where he’s going and the best way to get there.” Above that caption is a very clean-cut looking gentleman wearing a nice suit and getting ready to drive away in a blue Triumph-type sportscar. Just ahead of him is a wholesome, attractive young lady who looks like she may be a stewardess…and she’s giving him the eye. Not a seductive eye, just an eye.
That is a page from a 1964 edition of Playboy magazine. It’s a men’s magazine…always has been, and always will be. Women immediately scoff at the mention of Playboy because every issue includes nude photos of women. I’m here to dispel a few rumors, and maybe put some women’s minds at ease.
What made me think of this subject? Earlier today, I read about the passing of Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione. The first issue of Penthouse hit the newsstands in 1965, over ten years after Hugh Hefner launched his empire with the first issue of Playboy in 1953. Penthouse was a lot grittier than Playboy. In Playboy, the models seemed like the girl that might live next door, or perhaps worked at the office. Penthouse models looked like hookers who wanted nothing more than sex. Plus, Penthouse included some slutty stories, including it’s monthly “Forum” section (“I never thought this would happen to me…”) To my knowledge, I never met a Playboy centerfold, but I once met a Penthouse centerfold. I was about 13 or 14 years old, and Maggie Burton was at the Custom Car Show in Peoria. I had my picture taken with her. She was very nice, but I’m sure she was thinking that there was a much better way to make a living. It wasn’t until later that a friend of mine produced the issue that included Maggie. Boy, she sure looked a lot different in that magazine!
So what sort of man reads Playboy? I can’t say that I’m a regular reader, but I was a subscriber at one point. I’ll try to make this a short story…when our triplets were born in 1998, it seemed like the whole year revolved around everything having to do with triplets. So when I learned that the Playboy centerfold in December, 1998 featured triplets, it seemed like a fitting end to the year. I was too late to pick up a copy at the newsstand, so I went to the NEW Playboy.com and ordered it as a back issue. It set me back about 20 bucks, but I had to have it to put in my son’s memory box for when he grows up (yes, it’s still there and the pages aren’t even bent). About a week after I received the issue in the mail, I got a letter thanking me for using Playboy.com, and as a reward, they were going to send me a year’s free subscription. What was I going to do…tell them “no, thanks”?
I ended up receiving the magazine every month in the mail for the next 4 or 5 years. My wife always said, “Aren’t you going to contact them and tell them that your year is up?” Ha! That would be like telling the cable company that I’ve been getting free HBO for a year, but now I feel guilty enough to tell them about it.
The standard line for men who are accused by women of being pigs for reading Playboy is “hey, I like the interviews”. What women need to understand is, it’s true! Playboy has long been known for in-depth, timely interviews in every issue. During my freebie period, I remember reading an interview with Indiana basketball legend Bobby Knight, where Knight attempted to end the interview by grabbing the interviewer’s tape recorder and destroying it. And I remember Charlie Sheen talking about how he finally got to rehab: “I was partying for, like, 3 days with Slash. I woke up in a motel room with Slash sitting on the bed opposite me saying ‘dude, you’re out of hand…you need help.’ I figured if Slash had noticed that I was out of hand, I must be pretty bad.” And the two-part Playboy interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono right before John’s death are very in-depth, to the point where John dissects a number of Beatles songs, and tells who wrote what and how they came up with most of their tunes.
Playboy also tries to keep up with trends in fashion, music and art so that readers can be informed of what’s happening in the world. And sure, there are photos of nude women in various points throughout the publication. Many of them have been famous, and some have become famous because of their appearance in Playboy. In the golden days of Playboy, I’m sure many guys picked up the magazine to look at the models, and why not? They seldom looked slutty, and most of the poses seemed somewhat natural. But these days, I know of hardly anyone who looks at Playboy for the women. Why? Because they don’t look real. They are so super-modelly and airbrushed that they just don’t look like a real person.
I like to decorate my basement with vintage advertising from the 50’s and 60’s, so earlier this year I was looking through some old magazines, including some old Playboys. My son asked what I was looking at, and was somewhat taken aback when he found out I was looking at a Playboy. I asked if he wanted to look at one (better from me than one of his 12 year old friends). As he looked at it, I made this point to him: “These women are not real. You’re not going to meet a woman who looks like this. They don’t exist. They start as a person, then are photo-shopped and airbrushed into a perfect magazine specimen.” I told him about the in-depth interviews and up-to-date articles about fashion, music and art.
He didn’t care. He just kept going back to the centerfold. And you know what? That’s exactly what I did when I first held a Playboy in my hands.
But the interviews are great…really!