The little rabbit logo is one of the most recognized logos in the world. It is a visual representation of sexy, provocative and classy and since the 50s and since Hugh Hefner borrowed one thousand dollars from his mom, Playboy has been nothing less than iconic. The December 1953 issue featured no other than Marilyn Monroe and has since featured top models Elle MacPherson and Kate Moss, music royalty Madonna, Barbara Streisand, Mariah Carey and Dolly Parton, and A-list actresses Drew Barrymore and Charlize Theron. Everyone expected numbnuts MTV-like characters like Carmen Electra, Pam Anderson, Kim K, and Jenny McCarthy to be on covers showing their already fawned over puppies but to have well respected top stars is what brought this company to prominence. Those issues have now become collectibles.
I remember the days when boys had these magazines under their mattresses, behind their dressers, under a stack of books on the shelf, hidden but easily accessible, making sure to take advantage of the opportunity to look at the magazine if the opportunity was given. I remember the dark, quiet nights, when I was certain everyone was asleep. I remember turning pages, amazed by the curves and beauty and all that would escape me for at least another 10 years. It was the most accessible form of pornography. But pornography would evolve.
There was VHS. Large, clunky, and difficult to disguise and impossible to watch in secret. DVDs made things a bit easier but still, not quite right. Internet! The internet made it affordable and untraceable assuming you knew how to clear your history. Though better than the previous alternatives, watching porn on the desktop wasn’t perfect. Finally, mobile devices with high speed internet. Playboy had finally met its match. Playboy couldn’t possibly compete with free sites and the highly lucrative porn industry. Playboy’s worth went from $1 billion dollars in 2000 to $84 million in 2009.
Just recently, Playboy announced the magazine will stop featuring full nudity and essentially join the ranks of men’s magazines FHM, Maxim and to some degree, Sport Illustrated. This move would be a self-destruction of its long lived and admired legacy, right? Perhaps not. Since changing its website to nudity-free content in August, the viewership has quadrupled! The brand name is still as iconic as ever but the world has changed. People don’t buy magazines anymore nor do they spend 30 minutes in the bathroom pleasuring themselves to still photos. The change to nudity-free means that men and women can safely and comfortably look at the website at work without the tag of “looking at porn.” They can download the magazine on their digital device and not skeeve out the lady on the train. Purchasing and freely looking at Playboy publications will be as normal as reading Cosmo or People or (insert magazine here).
We love to look at the beauty now more than ever but we don’t want the stigmas of being a pervert. As the world changes and becomes more politically correct, men are forced into a life of sophistication and intelligence. We can no longer scratch our sack or belch or objectify women. At least not in public. Playboy has finally figured out that faux pas was no longer working for them and like the old adage, less is more. Less nudity.