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Blue-Blooded Papercuts & Pin-ups: The return of the Nude Centrefold In Playboy

Blue-Blooded Papercuts & Pin-ups: The return of the Nude Centrefold In Playboy

Put the cucumber slice back in your Hendricks kids and listen to some sultry Jazz stylings as we welcome back an era. March marks a momentous month in the Men’s Interest magazine world, as Playboy brings back its coveted ‘Playmate of the Month’ centrefold.

To put it colloquially: nudes are back.

Following a year long hiatus, the iconic men’s magazine has chanted the mantra “everything old is new again” as hordes of supermodels and celebrities alike nix the negligée for a neo-classical era of Playboy nudity.

Leading with a campaign “Naked is normal” splayed across the front of 2017’s March/April issue  Cooper Hefner, son of infamous playboy billionaire Hugh, tweeted “Nudity was never the problem, because nudity isn’t a problem. Today, we’re taking our identity back and rediscovering who we are.”   

While the new era of Playboy welcomes back nudity, plucking the heartstrings of bourgeois bachelors everywhere, polarised debate opens once again on whether the centrefold poses an opportunity for the celebration of female sexuality, or perpetuates perversion.

When Playboy launched in 1953 with a platinum blonde Marilyn Monroe gracing the cover, sales were fruitful, peaking in November 1972 with 7.16m copies. However, as circulation fell to 800 000 by 2015, to update the magazines geriatric business model, both print and online were absolved of their NSFW status and nudity was banned in 2016.

While site visitors increased 400% from July to December, changes to the presence of nudity failed to offset plunging print subscriptions. The era of young college men indulging in the magazine for the ‘articles’ over a glass of port seemed contested by an increasing slew of porn hub categories as CEO Scott Flanders highlighted, “You’re now one click away from every sexy act imaginable for free”.

Removing nudity subsequently meant that Playboy was led to pair provocative poses with strong prose, of which the publication has a rich history.

The image of Playboy is not solely bound by voluptuous silhouettes and velour smoking jackets. In 1970, Playboy undimmed the sensual lights on disability rights, becoming the first men’s magazine to publish in Braille.

Having featured works of prominent authors, from Margaret Atwood to Ray Bradbury, alongside exclusive interviews with Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and John Lennon in the weeks before his murder, nudity or not, the publication has constructed a cultural framework for literary excellence and social consciousness to manifest.

Featuring numerous successful female centrefolds across seven decades, among them, Brigitte Bardot, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson and Charlize Theron, Playboy is scolded by a feminist paradigm that argues the magazine symbolically disarms each woman’s success by binding them in a glossy paged glass ceiling and patriarchal packaging.

Published in 35 countries, Playboy stands apart from the Maxim’s, Zoo’s and iconic Larry Flint porn-powerhouse Hustlers of the world, with its undoubtedly stylish edge, and affliction for sensuality to be heightened by opulence, intellectualism and artistic craftsmanship.

To say that the success of these women featured in the centrefold is reduced to cheap titillation ignores the carefully tailored editorial framework that has formulated a publication intent on celebrating the strength, beauty and necessity of enlightenment in the discourse of primal interaction. The female nude in Playboy is too often likened to a Sasha Grey porno, when in reality it is carefully curated and resonates more similarities with an classical art exhibition, captured by a Warhol-esque lens.

Hefner defined the generations of men he sought to target, in his first letter from the editor, stating “we enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph, and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion of Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex…”

Argument stands that the world a 20-something year old Hef launched Playboy magazine was stuffy – civil rights were abysmal and the country was overruled by restrictive religious agendas that likened every vaguely sex-filled household to actualise missionary teachings both in discourse and intercourse alike.

While the feminist principles of the magazine remain contested, we question whether Playboy can survive as the number of Cosmopolitan, Cognac sipping sex connoisseurs dwindles. Perhaps in an era where social media and technology have rendered sex merely pragmatic and easily attainable, we’ve replaced cocktails and conversation with cheap goon bags and tinder.

But in an age where we’ve managed to transcend (some) of the ideals that segregated creeds, colours and coital practices, we still find ourselves strangled by sexually repressive principles. We’ve chosen liberation while concurrently constructing revenge porn, slut shaming, and victim blaming.

To this I argue the relevance, if not the utmost necessity of a publication like Playboy in its new modern revolutionary form.

So whether you’re ready to boycott the provocative press or recline on a lounge chair and stroke your velvet smoking jacket while you thumb through the glossy images, at least we can cease pining for the times where titillating prose and explicit exposés were partitioned by tits… for now.

In Regards to Falling Out of Love

In Regards to Falling Out of Love

Sleep is

Sleep is