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Playboy throws in towel, ends nude photos

14 october 2015, 12:57
0
November 2015 issues of Playboy magazine are seen on the shelf of a bookstore in Bethesda. ©AFP
November 2015 issues of Playboy magazine are seen on the shelf of a bookstore in Bethesda. ©AFP

Playboy said Tuesday it will stop publishing nude photos in its iconic magazine for men, throwing in the towel in the face of rampant online pornography, AFP reports.

Playboy, which broke lifestyle taboos in the 1950s with bare-breasted pictures in a magazine for the mass market, said the publication will see "a top-to-bottom redesign" that will be unveiled with its March 2016 edition.

"The reimagined Playboy magazine will include a completely modern editorial and design approach, and, for the first time in its history, will no longer feature nudity in its pages," said the statement from Playboy Enterprises.

Playboy said it would include "sexy, seductive pictorials of the world's most beautiful women" but without nudity, and that it would "remain committed to its award-winning mix of long-form journalism, interviews and fiction."

The move marks a remarkable turnabout for a magazine that launched in 1953 with a sultry Marilyn Monroe on its cover, breaking the taboo of showing women au naturel.

"The political and sexual climate of 1953, the year Hugh Hefner introduced Playboy to the world, bears almost no resemblance to today," said Playboy Enterprises chief executive Scott Flanders.

Flanders told The New York Times: "You're now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so (nudity) is just passe at this juncture."

He also said that people are "more free to express ourselves politically, sexually and culturally today, and that's in large part thanks to Hef's heroic mission to expand those freedoms."

With pornographic images now so readily available online, and accessible via a variety of connected devices, Playboy is selling fewer copies.

The magazine's circulation peaked in 1972 at seven million, but has declined to about 800,000 now, the Times said, citing Alliance for Audited Media figures. 

In order to be allowed on now-ubiquitous social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that drive Internet traffic, Playboy has already toned down some content.

Cory Jones, Playboy's chief content officer, met with 89-year-old Hefner last month on the change in strategy. Jones told the Times that the magazine will still feature a Playmate of the Month, though the images will now be "PG-13." 

And it's unclear whether or not the centerfold will survive the chopping block.

  What comes next? 

The Playboy brand, with its trademark tuxedo bow tie-wearing bunny silhouette logo, has had a major impact worldwide. 

In addition to its sexy centerfolds and covers, the magazine is also known for its groundbreaking interviews with defining cultural figures of the moment.

The first Playboy interview was conducted by writer Alex Haley with Miles Davis, in which the jazz great shared candid views on racism.

"This whole prejudice mess is something you would feel so good if it could just be got rid of, like a big sore eating inside of your belly," Davis said.

There were also interviews with Malcolm X and with Martin Luther King Jr, in which he discussed the civil rights movement and said "America today is an extremely sick nation."

Then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter admitted to have lusted for other women "in my heart." An interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono hit newsstands around the time of the Beatles co-founder's December 1980 death.

Playboy has also published short stories by prominent novelists like Vladimir Nabokov, Haruki Murakami and Margaret Atwood, as well as cartoons by the likes of Shel Silverstein.

Some of the world's most famous photographers, including Helmut Newton and Annie Leibovitz, have taken iconic pictures for the magazine.

Celebrities of all stripes have posed for Playboy at the height of their careers, from Kim Basinger to Drew Barrymore, Madonna, Farrah Fawcett, Sharon Stone, La Toya Jackson, wrestler Torrie Wilson and gymnast Svetlana Khorkina.

  'Collectible feel' 

The redesigned magazine will feature a larger size and will be printed on heavier, higher quality paper to give it "a more collectible feel," according to the company.

Last year, Playboy made a similar cover-up at its website and mobile app, which were redesigned to be "safe for work."

After the change, Playboy.com immediately experienced explosive growth in its audience, averaging a 400 percent increase in monthly unique visitors while the median age of the site's visitors fell from 47 to 30 years of age.

Hefner, the founder and driving force of the company for decades, took the company private in 2011.


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