More Opinion by The Springboard

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Free Porn Killed Playboy?

Well, of course the short answer to that is yes and no. Free Internet porn may not have killed Playboy Magazine, but it did kill full-on nudity between their covers. That all aside, was Playboy ever really porn? I mean, in the finer sense of the word if I can even go there. Finer and porn. Now there's a conjoining of words you never thought you would see together. I always viewed Playboy as soft-core if anything, and actually that is what Playboy always wanted to suggest of itself to sort of separate itself from anything seedier that may have been out there. If Playboy Magazine accomplished one thing in its long tenure, it was to somehow make the idea of porn on any level classy, and I think if one looks back on Playboy's long history of nudity in their magazines, the nudity was never portrayed in a fashion that would be considered (by most level-headed people) to be overtly lude or lascivious. Unlike other magazines like Penthouse or Hustler, which indeed came after Playboy, the depictions of women were artful and done with what can only be classified as a respect for the beauty of the naked female body. As porn got raunchier and more risqué over the years, Playboy maintained its classier, more respectable format, and I think it enjoyed many years of success as being an every man's magazine. You'd rarely get a raised eyebrow from anyone if you told them you subscribed to Playboy. After all, they had some fantastic articles, and during Stephen King's up and coming days, he made many a tantalizing horrific contribution between the boobies and butts. But tell someone you picked up a copy of Penthouse or Hustler and you'd be the stuff of innuendo and jokes of a more sinister sexual nature among the guys.

Because they were definitely not the stuff of Playboy.

For all intents and purposes I agree with the stance of Playboy's founder and creator, Hugh Hefner, that if you want to see sex acts, nude women, or anything else for that matter, one is no more than a simple click away from anything imaginable—or desired, depending on your perspective. Porn is as easily accessible, in all of its forms, as a hamburger at McDonald's. But I still go back to my perspective of Playboy as a whole. To my mind it was not porn in the truest sense of the word. Playboy kept itself "classy" through the generations, even though Playboy Enterprises did delve into some of the seedier world of pornography as a whole. The magazine maintained its format with nude women portrayed in an artful manner, and I don't think ever revealed too much. If one can even say this about porn in any capacity, I think Playboy managed to keep it clean.

But, part of the decision did come about as subscription rates and overall sales of the magazine have dramatically fallen. So, in that sense, what can be found on the Internet has hurt sales. Interestingly enough, another thought by Playboy to change its format and take out the nudity are sales of other men's magazines on the racks that show beautiful women scantily clad, but still clothed. Sales and subscriptions of those magazines, for whatever reason, have taken the lead. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue still flies off the racks, and with the women depicted there one must still use their imagination to know what's under the string bikinis, and it has maintained a fairly steady following year after year even though it has never shown any real nudity.

What I am suggesting here is that while the numbers do not lie, and being a bit of a business savvy person myself I fully appreciate bottom lines and cause for change to improve them through identifying what is scratching away at them, I still think Playboy has and had a niche in the entire marketplace of porn. I think Playboy easily separated itself from the pack simply because it was more of a pin-up mag with an edge, and did not play by the same rules the rest of the porn industry has obviously taken. Even in the most risqué of poses in Playboy they pale in comparison to any poses you might find elsewhere. The photo layouts in Playboy have always let you see more than you might otherwise see, especially when it comes to celebrity spreads, but still leaves enough to the imagination that it is clearly not what you would find on the rest of the Internet.

I actually think that the decision by Hugh Hefner will prove to be a good one. He's right. If you want full-on nudity you don't have to go very far to find it. But here's something I think that Playboy could use to help capitalize on its new concept. Take a page from the story book of Sports Illustrated and have a once a year issue that separates itself from the content of the whole year combined, and that compels readers to take a closer look.

That is, take a reader poll each year and let them vote for the hottest girls who appeared in any of the non-nude issues of the magazine. AND THEN, pick the top three or four to pose in expanded nude spreads.

If Black Friday is the day for retail that brings those operations in the black, I think one issue a year of Playboy depicting nude photos of what its readers deem to be the most interesting and sexy women on the planet may well be an issue that the publication could not print fast enough to keep up with demand. And if the readers see the entire year before the annual nude issue as a lead-in to finally see that beautiful woman in all her glory, it could be one of the most anticipated issues of Playboy every
single year and rake in hundreds of millions of dollars to boot.

It is keeping Playboy honorable and classy. But also in keeping with the tradition that made Playboy a household name.


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