News: Playboy Sees Sense And Brings Back The Nudity (Sort Of)

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In March 2016, in what we all hoped was a misguided publicity stunt, Playboy very publicly dropped all the nudity from the magazine – a dramatic move for a magazine that was primarily known (beyond the interviews) for naked women. Indeed, for the magazine that had led the sexual revolution in the 195os, 60s and into the 70s, this felt like a slap in the face – a sop to the prudes, the censors and the angry campaigners who had already swept topless women from The Sun and lad’s mags from the shops in the UK.

At the time, I predicted that this would be as unsuccessful as Penthouse‘s bizarre attempt to be a mid-shelf style magazine in the 1990s. Because Playboy remained the Playboy of old in the minds of most people who never saw a copy. Advertising revenue might have increased, but sales – obviously – fell dramatically. Some¬†shops that had previously declined to sell the magazine took up this new wholesome version, but many others continued to say no.

And the lack of nudity seemed forced Рnot just removing the Playmate glamour spreads, but going out of its way to be nipple-free, featuring photos of naked girls that were wildly contorted in order to cover up the naughty bits, as if the print version was subject to the same moralising Apple rules that the app was. The magazine seemed a confused affair, unable to satisfy anyone.

And now, the experiment is over. Newly installed chief creative officer Cooper Hefner (that’s Hugh’s son, in case you hadn’t guessed) announced that the nudity will be back with the March / April issue. Though it’s not quite a return to the past. There will be breasts and bottoms, but no full-frontals. “I’ll be the first to admit that the way the magazine portrayed nudity was dated”, said Hefner (without explaining just why that was, and why the new version won’t be), “but removing it was a mistake. Nudity was never the problem because nudity isn’t a problem. Today we’re taking our identity back and reclaiming who we are.”

The new version will be launched with a spread by photographer Gavin Bond, featuring Elizabeth Elam.

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