We begin with a paragraph from Hugh Hefner’s The Playboy Philosophy, December 1962:
Some seem to feel that a happy, even frisky and romantic attitude toward life, and a savoring of its material pleasures, preclude seriousness, work, sensibility, a viable aesthetic. In our book (literally and in the slang sense) this position is untenable. It belongs with such other evidences of semantic dysfunction as the unreasoning suspicion that medicine can’t be good for you if it doesn’t taste bad; that robust profanity bespeaks a limited vocabulary (rather than one equipped with condiments as well as nutrients); that dullness is the ordained handmaiden of seriousness; that the well-dressed man is an empty-headed fop, perforce, and that conversely, the chap who can’t distinguish a fine Niersteiner from a plebeian bottle of hock is probably possessed of more intellect of character than the man who can.
In the Age of Dudebros, this sort of claim to the epicurean high ground gets exactly the amount of respect you’d think, which is why the keepers of the Rabbit are actually considering turning away from its signature offering:
“You could argue that nudity is a distraction for us and actually shrinks our audience rather than expands it,” says [Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott] Flanders. “At the time when Hef founded the company [in 1953], nudity was provocative, it was attention-grabbing, it was unique and today it’s not. It’s passé.”
So passé that he predicts it will eventually vanish from the Playboy brand altogether. Probably not as long as Hefner still owns a third of the company and personally selects all of the nude spreads in the magazine, along with each Playmate of the Month and Year.
Which, notes this thirty-year reader, do tend to be repetitive, though there does seem to be life in the old leporid yet:
Though he claims he has no actual editorial pull, Flanders nudged others within the company to contemporize the overall look and feel of the publication. He felt it had grown “stale,” mostly due to using essentially the same pool of photographers for more than 25 years. Updating the visual aesthetic, he says, particularly the eye candy, of Playboy was far from an easy sell.
“People said, ‘Oh, we know what Hef likes. He likes this type of photography,’ and I said, ‘Well that’s bullshit. That’s like saying he likes the same meatloaf he’s been eating for 25 years. Let’s give him a piece of steak and see if he likes that,'” Flanders says. “And, sure as hell, as soon as they gave Hef more contemporary photography he loved it.”
Still, Hef is nearly 90. (Note: This Web site started on his 70th birthday.) At this point, we have no idea of the sensibilities of younger son Cooper, who is the designated heir to That Which Is Hef. And Playboy is trailing the recently de-fratboyed Maxim by half a million copies a month, which proves, if nothing else, that there’s a market for sideboob alone.