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View Full Version : Who buys Playboy anymore?


astro
04-25-2009, 02:18 PM
Playboy Magazine was great stuff in the 60's & 70's and even had good stuff into the early 80's but for at least the last 10-15 years or so the women in the pages are such obvious implant and surgery queens the results are almost anti-erotic.

Beyond this, who would pay for this? There are better looking women on the internet for free. What is Playboy's business model these days?

DMark
04-25-2009, 02:32 PM
Good question - I did see that Christie Hefner resigned, so not sure if that is the final nail in the publication or not.
As a Gay guy, I was never exactly their ideal demographic, but I actually did pick up copies from friends and read the articles - they always had some good interviews and some interesting articles. Haven't seen a copy in a few years though, so not sure how it holds up (with regards to articles) today.

Mr Buttons
04-25-2009, 02:38 PM
WAG: They still make lots of $$ from liscensing stuff. Playboy keychains, jewelry, hand bags, pillows, blankets, wallets, hats, etc.

Really Not All That Bright
04-25-2009, 02:41 PM
Better living through airbrushing.

Actually, Playboy Enterprises is suffering some big financial woes right now, but they're mostly related to the side projects (ie., online content, Playboy TV, Spice, Playboy clubs and the like). Circulation of the magazine is pretty stable at 3,000,000 copies, which is down a lot from their heyday but still more than any of the "lad mags" (Maxim, etc.)

I don't know exactly why so many people still pay for it. I guess some people really do read it for the articles... and of course it's only place where you're going to see the naked celebrity du jour (usually female WWE stars, these days). Circulation for the celebrity centerfold issues (like Katerina Witt and Rena Mero, for example) is invariably higher than normal.

Fun fact: the NLS (http://www.loc.gov/nls/) publishes Playboy in Braille. No pictures obviously.

Icerigger
04-25-2009, 04:39 PM
I have been receiving Playboy for free for the last 20 years. I signed up for a one year subscription in 1987 and after the term ran out I still continued to receive it. I think their records must show me as having a life time term. I did get my monies worth, once in a while I get a card asking I still want to receive it, I do not reply and they keep sending it to me, 20 plus years. They have had a recent format change and it's about half the size it was a short time ago.

thirdname
04-25-2009, 04:58 PM
I can't stand Playboy, or a lot of the big magazines now. They retouch photos to such an extent that it's often more like looking at a painting or a computer rendering than a photograph. This happens in other magazines where celebrities appear nude or semi-nude. What's the point? Some chick undressed and a photographer got to see her and take pictures, but I don't get to see the the photos. It seems like the only way to ever see celebrities nude anymore is in captures from movies.

foolsguinea
04-25-2009, 05:03 PM
They used to have pretty good fiction & political writing. And the interviews. And the Adviser, or whatever it was called.

I suppose there's a lot of content there one is not getting from net-porn.

The Second Stone
04-25-2009, 05:42 PM
I paid for a sub a few years ago and still get on for free now. I think they do it to keep their sub numbers up for advertising purposes. Their writing is still quite good. Or so I hear. My dad gets a free copy of the Wall Street Journal based on him living in a rich community. They just toss it in the driveway every day.

Czarcasm
04-25-2009, 06:00 PM
Moving thread from IMHO to Cafe Society.

Skald the Rhymer
04-25-2009, 06:05 PM
I haven't purchased copy of Playboy in 16 years or so--since college--and even though it was for the articles.

DrFidelius
04-25-2009, 06:44 PM
Read it with from about mid-70s to early 80s. Formative years, don't you know. I stopped reading it when I realized it was all one big lie.

"These are the drinks we order, these are the political opinions we have, this is how we dress, these are the jokes we tell, and these are the writer we read. That's why these women hang out with us.

Oh, you ordered those drinks, held those opinions, dressed that way, told those jokes and read those writers? And the girls didn't show up?

Sorry, that's because this month we were ordering these different drinks, etc ad infinitum."

And the cycle could only be stopped by outgrowing the need to model yourself on someone else.

Horatio Hellpop
04-25-2009, 07:13 PM
I love their cartoons, but the last time I bought a copy, there were a total of ten in the whole issue. The book compilations of the cartoons are brilliant, especially the Eldon Dedini book.

Exapno Mapcase
04-25-2009, 09:58 PM
I just finished Mr Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream, by Steven Watts (http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Playboy-Hefner-American-Dream/dp/0471690597/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240710444&sr=1-1), an oddly tedious and very long biography.

And even after reading it I'm still asking myself the same question as the OP. (Watts spends three-quarters of the book on Playboy's first 25 years and crams the next 25 into 100 pages. And stops talking about the magazine. It's really not very good.)

Who buys it? Youngish men. Same as always. Why? I have to guess for the articles. It can't be for the pictures these days. But Hefner understood perfectly how totally insecure young men are. They want instruction in all the details of being grown up. What to wear. How to act. What to say to women. That never changes at base, even if the superficial details of the answers change. Playboy was always about fantasy and aspiration, both in the unattainable "girls next door" but just as importantly in the total lifestyle needed to attain the attainable girl. All the comedy "guy" movies of today are about the same insecurity. Seth Rogan is the new Tony Randall.

Musicat
04-25-2009, 10:09 PM
I frequently get mailed ads for a subscription so cheap that it's hard to resist, like $1 an issue or less, so sometimes I bite. For that price, there's always something to enjoy.

But they long ago gave up the wholesome "girl next door" concept for Playmates, and switched to overblown and overgrown, serious models. That's when the Playboy image jumped the shark.

But I'd pay to see a Playmate jump a shark.

gaffa
04-26-2009, 03:09 AM
I had a subscription from when I was 11. My family had a cabin at a nudist camp, so pictures of naked women were nothing special. I really did read it for the articles. I'm 48, and the time period when I was reading it was one of their strongest. I had a subscription again a few years back, but they started transitioning towards trying to serve the Maxim crowd and I let it lapse.

I interviewed for a job at Playboy in the late 90s. Nice offices with original artwork everywhere - I kept seeing paintings I recognized from the magazine. Every single person I talked to was female. They told me they had a difficult time hiring men because of the "girlfriend/wife factor", too many spouses unhappy with their men working around potential naked women. I turned the job down because they wanted me to work out in Schaumburg rather than downtown Chicago.

Leaper
04-26-2009, 03:37 AM
Someone else who wonders the same thing! (http://notalwaysright.com/old-school-hustlers/1704)

Thalion
04-26-2009, 06:59 AM
I still enjoy Playboy. They still attract a lot of very good writers and introduce some new talent.

While there are lots of better places to see naked women (though they do attract very beautiful girls and have fantastic photographers), the one thing Playboy can deliver that no one else can is celebrities posing naked. Many women who would never pose naked otherwise will do so for Playboy, largely based on their reputation for style and class in this area.

I'll keep subscribing until Jennifer Love Hewitt gives in and poses!

Horatio Hellpop
04-26-2009, 10:49 AM
There is a prurient streak within me that likes seeing celebrity womwn naked, and Playboy has always delivered the goods: In my own heyday as a reader, Bo Derek, Farrah Fawcett, Drew Barrymore, Madonna, all the Bond girls, lingerie spreads with Bernadette Peters and Kathleen Turner back when that was a big deal, etc.

The celebs they get now just aren't that appealing to me. WWF's China? Kim Kardashian? Who are these people?

Really Not All That Bright
04-26-2009, 02:30 PM
I'll keep subscribing until Jennifer Love Hewitt gives in and poses!
Her centerfold would be one page for her forehead and one page for the rest of her.

DiggitCamara
04-26-2009, 03:17 PM
I can't stand Playboy, or a lot of the big magazines now. They retouch photos to such an extent that it's often more like looking at a painting or a computer rendering than a photograph. This happens in other magazines where celebrities appear nude or semi-nude. What's the point? Some chick undressed and a photographer got to see her and take pictures, but I don't get to see the the photos. It seems like the only way to ever see celebrities nude anymore is in captures from movies.

Funny though. Playboy prided itself on its "counterculture" views, didn't it?

If everyone's doing... well, they should stop doing it!

Imagine, for instance, a Salma Hayek spread, not re-touched, with analog photography! Or... I dunno... a Britney Spears au naturel. (Emphasis on the non-retouching).

Even some men-and-women pairings... Why not add homosexual spreads? (Both male and female?)

I guess what I'm saying is that Playboy used to be at the forefront of society's evolution. And they grew stale when they embraced the yuppie lifestyle during the '90's. If they want to become relevant again, they need to embrace the frontier.

Really Not All That Bright
04-26-2009, 03:27 PM
I guess what I'm saying is that Playboy used to be at the forefront of society's evolution. And they grew stale when they embraced the yuppie lifestyle during the '90's. If they want to become relevant again, they need to embrace the frontier.
Huh?

Playboy has always been full of articles about what stereo system The Modern Man needs for his living room, or which cigar he should be smoking. They didn't "embrace the yuppie lifestyle in the 90s"; the magazine has always been a sort of nekkid Cigar Aficionado.

Wendell Wagner
04-26-2009, 03:47 PM
Playboy was never really countercultural. It always combined its culturally liberal attitudes with consumerism. It always made it clear that to be a good playboy you had to wear the right clothes, smoke the right pipe, listen to the right music using the right stereo system, decorate your bachelor pad in the right way, own the right car, etc. I remember once laughing when I read about some preacher fulminating about "hippies with their Playboy Philosophy." Hippies and Playboy readers generally disliked each other.

Furthermore, although they believed in tolerance of homosexuality, they always made it clear that their own readers weren't gay. They also made it clear that although they didn't have any big problems with women's liberation, the women that the playboy slept with was supposed to go home afterwards and not bother him with notions like fidelity. How is a playboy supposed to have time and money to buy all those clothes, stereo systems, cars, etc. if he has to worry about taking care of some woman, let alone some kids?

Grumman
04-26-2009, 03:53 PM
Even some men-and-women pairings... Why not add homosexual spreads? (Both male and female?)
That seems like the sort of thing that would be seen by their target audience not just as having zero value, but as having negative value. Given a choice between buying a 100-page magazine with 30 pages of naked women and buying a 120-page magazine with 30 pages of naked women and 20 pages of naked men, wouldn't many men choose the former?

Baldwin
04-26-2009, 05:59 PM
In the '60s and '70s, Playboy published some great short fiction by the top science fiction and mystery writers (they were known as the highest-paying magazine for short stories). Do they still publish any notable fiction?

Noel Prosequi
04-27-2009, 12:35 AM
Meh. The whole concept was dated in the 70s, so much so that it now has a retro revival feel about it. The idea was that men of taste who appreciated fine wines and cigars should also appreciate fine women using the same aesthetic approach. Playboy's marketing tried to break the old nexus between dirty books and shame by making a connection with the illusion of a wealthy lifestyle it promoted.

This is all about as dated as Roger Moore's Bond. Real women are not impressed by supercilious sneers, a patronising air and an obviously insecure brand label addiction.

The style culminates in those ads where some bloke is standing, legs planted firmly on the ground but apart in a macho pose. He has his arms crossed or on his hips and is wearing his (insert clothesmaker of the month here) safari suit. One or more adoring, dependent women is/are on the ground draping their arms around his legs in a sort of pleading gesture while he, ignoring those on the ground, is focussing his attention upwards and out of shot. The triumph of Man as disdainful consumer of disposable women.

Any man who actually tried to take the advice of Playboy about the right cars, clothes, cigars and general demeanour was IME universally treated as a wanker by actual women. I guess the magazine's success as promoter of lifestyle was built on the illusion that most of the readership were classy, wealthy, sophisticated, alpha-male guys, and if you (the reader) just happened not to be, reading the magazine could help make up for that. In truth, most of the readers were schmoes who couldn't afford the stuff being advertised and so had no way of knowing that buying it didn't buy cool.

Why is it still going? I guess its earlier success has bought it some cultural momentum. A new generation of insecure men looks to the cultural icon Playboy became, still not knowing that its method of commodifying women is never going to work outside fantasy.

astro
04-27-2009, 02:30 AM
Meh. The whole concept was dated in the 70s, so much so that it now has a retro revival feel about it. The idea was that men of taste who appreciated fine wines and cigars should also appreciate fine women using the same aesthetic approach. Playboy's marketing tried to break the old nexus between dirty books and shame by making a connection with the illusion of a wealthy lifestyle it promoted.

This is all about as dated as Roger Moore's Bond. Real women are not impressed by supercilious sneers, a patronising air and an obviously insecure brand label addiction.

The style culminates in those ads where some bloke is standing, legs planted firmly on the ground but apart in a macho pose. He has his arms crossed or on his hips and is wearing his (insert clothesmaker of the month here) safari suit. One or more adoring, dependent women is/are on the ground draping their arms around his legs in a sort of pleading gesture while he, ignoring those on the ground, is focussing his attention upwards and out of shot. The triumph of Man as disdainful consumer of disposable women.

Any man who actually tried to take the advice of Playboy about the right cars, clothes, cigars and general demeanour was IME universally treated as a wanker by actual women. I guess the magazine's success as promoter of lifestyle was built on the illusion that most of the readership were classy, wealthy, sophisticated, alpha-male guys, and if you (the reader) just happened not to be, reading the magazine could help make up for that. In truth, most of the readers were schmoes who couldn't afford the stuff being advertised and so had no way of knowing that buying it didn't buy cool.

Why is it still going? I guess its earlier success has bought it some cultural momentum. A new generation of insecure men looks to the cultural icon Playboy became, still not knowing that its method of commodifying women is never going to work outside fantasy.

Having read more than one Playboy in the 70's and 80's I think you're painting kind of a cartooney picture of the context of the advice and editorial posture of the magazine. Many of the reviews of fine clothing, cars, books, wines, stereo equipment etc. were extraordinarily well done by reviewers with a depth of knowledge about the subjects. Playboy of the 70's era never took itself too seriously (except when defending free speech) and that was part of it's appeal.

Playboy was not antagonistic toward the women's liberation movement or female social equity, and in fact embraced both these concepts as part of a larger context of sexual freedom. Several Playboy interviews were conducted with seminal figures in the feminist/women's liberation movement.

Wendell Wagner
04-27-2009, 04:14 AM
You are aware, aren't you, how controversial Playboy is in the feminist community? A great deal of feminists despise Playboy. You're accepting Hugh Hefner's philosophy without questioning. Just because he thinks that his attitudes are favorable towards a given thing doesn't mean that everyone else does.

Why does having good reviewers of "fine clothing, cars, books, wines, stereo equipment etc." mean that they took them didn't take them too seriously? The very idea of having reviewers of those subjects means that they took them somewhat seriously. "Too seriously" is in the eye of the beholder. The ads in Playboy are a better index of the attitudes of the magazine than the reviews are. Having some negative reviews of consumer goods doesn't mean that a magazine is opposed to consumer goods.

Icerigger
04-27-2009, 04:23 AM
A feminist's view of Playboy and multiple comments on her observations.

http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/playboy_defenders_youre_embarrassing_yourselves/

astro
04-27-2009, 09:50 AM
A feminist's view of Playboy and multiple comments on her observations.

http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/playboy_defenders_youre_embarrassing_yourselves/

Worth the read! That was amusing.

Thalion
04-27-2009, 10:13 AM
Her centerfold would be one page for her forehead and one page for the rest of her.

You dare malign a goddess?! My seconds will call upon you, sir!

Seriously- if any part(s) of Jennifer Love Hewitt were to take up two pages, it sure as hell wouldn't be her forehead.

And who the hell would even notice such a thing?

:)

Exapno Mapcase
04-27-2009, 11:45 AM
Playboy was not antagonistic toward the women's liberation movement or female social equity, and in fact embraced both these concepts as part of a larger context of sexual freedom.

Not for a second.

Back to the Watts book I mentioned before. He argues convincingly that Hef was totally blindsided by the woman's liberation movement. They called him on the exploitation of young women and on his advocacy of the double standard. That last really hurt because he kept insisting that none of his multiple girlfriends cheat on him and his philandering and insistence on their subservience eventually broke up every relationship he had.

Hef had thought that he was a force for sexual liberation, which was true. What he could never realize was that his idea of sexual liberation was completely male-oriented. Virtually every major figure in the woman's movement blasted Hef and did so over a period of decades. That was one factor in Playboy's looking so dated after the 1970s. (There were a bunch of others, of course.)

It wasn't until some women in the movement took the crusade too far - the whole sex is rape trope - that some of the older enemies like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem eventually made peace with him (and gave interviews). They weren't happy that the "Playboy is porn" cause got hijacked by the Christian conservative movement. While politics can get strange bedfellows together on an issue, the liberationists had virtually nothing else in common with the fundamentalists. Hef turned out to be right on that one, even if he was still vulnerable on all the other counts. He did give lip service to political and workplace equality and added more female perspectives after the 70s, but the mixture never really gelled.

If you want to wade through it, Watts' book does give a good overview of how issue politics succeeds and fails. Every side in the argument had some points they were correct on and every side had blindnesses that they couldn't recognize. Which was dominant at any moment depended on what the greater society was like and how it changed in response to these and other forces.

Playboy was, is, and will always be for male notions of sexuality, as long as Hef lives. Playboy is not porn, though, and never was. That murky middle ground is what offers a vast battlefield for its foes.

Cisco
04-27-2009, 11:59 AM
A friend of mine still gets Playboy, and I flipped through a couple recent issues the last time I was at his house. Felt like I was looking at cartoons. The airbrushing and plastic surgery is out of control.

Paul in Qatar
04-27-2009, 12:14 PM
I see at least one of the British tabloids has adopted a "no implants" policy. I would support that. (So to speak.)

Playboy has a lot of problems. First is nobody in management wants to change a magazine that sells three million copies a month. That is huge.

They are not realizing all the income they could get from their mechanizing. The Rabbit Head is well-known but is easily cheapened. They have not licensed Rabbit Head car air freshener in a generation, but everyone still remember how tacky it was.

Then of course they are torn between becoming more explicit (see point one) and losing one segment or remaining tame and never gaining younger readers. There is a reason why Playboy does not want people to know they own Spice. Spice is too crude for the Playboy brand.

Solution? Establish a lad's magazine using the huge resources of the PB empire to dominate the US market. At the same time, return to the club/casino business and compete against Hooters. Continue a multi-prong approach to video.

If Playboy dies off as a magazine, the corporation would have diversified in a sector they could dominate.

kenobi 65
04-27-2009, 02:00 PM
A friend of mine has been a Playboy subscriber for a long time (he's in his late 30s now). I honestly don't think he's particularly interested in the cigars-and-stereos content; he's, quite frankly, a hick from rural Wisconsin, who's far more interested in deer hunting and drinking. And, he also tends to buy the special pictoral issues that Playboy puts out from time to time, which are nothing but pictures of naked models.

But, I also note that his sense of humor, and his general view of women, probably hasn't changed since he was 15. And, I suspect that's why he still subscribes to Playboy.