There was a much bigger splash last winter when Playboy announced it would no longer show nude pictorials in its magazine than when it reversed that decision last month.
Hefner’s had marriages that lasted longer than this.
With its March/April 2017 issue, on newsstands now, Playboy has gone back to its roots, the non-nude experiment having lasted exactly one year.
A sigh of relief should be our expected response, no? An April Fool’s joke revealed and survived? Was it all just a publicity stunt? Or did the bean counters who seem to run the enterprise now really think it would be a good idea and then reverse course when the new beans were counted?
There are several changes in the current issue one might discover on a second or third reading beyond who’s covering what parts of whose body. I mentioned last week that I’m in the issue and in fact I am, not naked but among the letter writers in the opinion section. There has been a dearth of letters to the editor in recent issues and I’m happy to see this section has been expanded.
Of course I appreciated seeing my own name in this month’s pages. But mine wasn’t the name featured most prominently. That distinction belongs to a certain Mr. Hefner, not Hugh but his youngest son Cooper, 25 years old but now the number two man listed on the masthead, just under his dad’s. His title is “Chief Creative Officer,” whatever that means (read: my daddy started the company), a pretty good promotion from two-thirds of the way down the page last month. Cooper’s got a friendly from-the-publisher-type piece in the issue’s early pages, introducing himself (as though we didn’t know) and his “Playboy philosophy.” Honestly, it reads like a bad op-ed in a college newspaper, but at least he seems to be on the right side of freedom. There are the usual jabs at so-called oppression from today’s political types, and the modern obsession with proving one’s goodness by proclaiming a tolerance to gay marriage (the most pressing issue on Earth, if you haven’t heard). Elder Hefner’s original “Playboy Philosophy” reads more like Ayn Rand than anything else, though for 60 years Playboy has been nominally laughing at the political right. Obviously it’s too early to tell exactly how Playboy will treat the current administration, though I fear it will miss a golden opportunity by siding more with Hollywood and the mainstream media than with the libertarian millennial it professes to court.
I look forward to reading (yes, reading) this new new era of Playboy. It really does look different compared to the past year. They’ve reintroduced content staples such as the “World of Playboy” and the “Playboy Advisor,” and have returned to the scrapbook format that differentiated it from the slick-look magazines it seemed to mimic the past 12 months. (They also stopped that stupid James Franco feature.) The jokes are back, and the one-page “playback” is now an entire section called “Heritage,” highlighting the magazine’s history, the very idea I think should be promoted while concurrently looking to the future. I like that they stuck with the new paper size, a little wider that the issues prior to 2016, and the quality of the paper has improved as well. The only thing I really find disappointing, other than the out-of-place ad and coupons for Harbor Freight Tools (who let that one slip through?) is the quality of the pictures. Yes, the photographs are in fact worse even though, yes, one does now get to see boobs. (This is 2017… they’re not that hard to find.) It seems as though the photographers were trying harder when they were more restricted, and the photos of the past year, most of which had a sort of vintage tint or filter to them, really looked better. Current editors can learn something from that strange year of modesty.
And when they finally get around to including my picture in the mag as opposed to just my name, I’ll insist upon the greatest of care.