Picked it up at the newsstand last night. Observations:
1.) Different proportions and feel. It’s not “slick” anymore, but that tactile “rough”.
2.) Same logo and “Playboy” in same typeface
3.) They still hide a rabbit on the cover
4.) A lot of features are still there – Interview (Rachel Maddow!), Letters, Playboy Advisor, even, despite the new policy, a Playmate of the Month, complete with center Gatefold.
5.) Significantly, what’s missing is any hint of humor. The Playbot Party Jokes are gone (no great loss there), but so are all the freakin’ cartoons. No Gahan Wilson. No Caldwell. No Olivia. None of their other sexy cartoonists. And they must have a backlog of LeRoy Neiman femlins and B. Kliban caroons stored away in their vault. In addition, their “Data” page, with the whimsical statistics, is gone. As is any humorous commentary.
6.) Not only that, but it’s as if they sucked all the color out of the magazine, aside from the ads. Their regular content, compared to just last month’s, looks like the current movie incarnations of superheroes compared to the comic book versions.
7.) There ARE about ten nude photos in the magazine, but they’re – reserved. No nipples show. Women hide their crotches and even their gluteal folds (buttcracks to you low-class folks). There were more explicit and sexier photos of women in LIFE magazine back in the 1960s – no joke. I used to read it back then.
8.) There still is a Playmate, with the datasheet and gatefold (“centerfold”), but without the nudity it kind of seems to lose its relevance. If they want her to be engaging, they ought to show her at hobbies, or something (which they used to do before).
9.) Without the humor, cartoons, nudity, and especially the color, the magazine kind of feels as if they deliberately excised all the fun from the magazine. You know how, in the movies The Little Mermaid or The Corpse Bride the opening scenes of our mundane world are shown in dull and muted tones, so that when you visit Ariel’s underworld kingdom or the Realm of the Dead in Burton’s film, both with bright and brilliant color, they seem more interesting and inviting than our world (despite being damp or full of dead people)? Well, the new Playboy feels like that “before” image. It’s as if, having championed the idea of sex and sophisticated living as Fun all these years, they now want to show that it can be stodgy, too. This is supposed to draw in viewers?
10.) You can keep the nudes, if you want. Give me back the classic Playboy cartoons and knowing humorous commentary. Heck, Esquire kept the humor when they dropped the (for then) explicit sex. Things like Maxim have it. Who is their target audience here? Are they hoping to pull away readers from GQ?