Monday, January 10, 2005

1) Playgirl

Celebrating three decades of porn mags for women

Although you might think that Playgirl stole its name from Hugh Hefner, founder Douglas Lambert actually named the magazine after a stripclub he owned in Orange County, California. He wanted to set up a porn mag for men, but his wife suggested he targeted women with naked pictures of men. It was 1973, at the height of the feminist movement, Cosmopolitan had just been the first magazine to ever feature a nude male centrefold, but for the first issue Playgirl played it safe with their centrefold protecting his modesty behind crossed legs. Letters of complaint from readers flooded in, and for their second issue they went full monty. By the end of the first year, sales peaked at 1.5 million. But thirty years later - which included a centrefold featuring Benji the dog and a $45,000 offer to Prince Charles to pose naked - the circulation is more like 300,000. There are still nlittle in the way of erections. One member of staff described how they tried to get round the anti-erection ban imposed by stockists by asking male models to work up a hard on, then press it down until it became just soft enough to point down. They called it "maximum tumescence in repose." They've launched Playgirl TV to find another way of making money, but the main problem is that Playgirl is just a replica of a men's mag with men dropped in instead of women. And the men are just as fake as the silicon, photoshopped men's mag fodder. They are fanta-coloured, a mountain-range of muscles and are too well depilated. They have names straight out of Sunset Beach, like Rolando, described in his bio as " a self-described loner who reads Quantum Physics for fun." In a word, they are gay. Which might explain why 30% of Playgirl's readership are gay men and out of all the readers I spoke to, the general consensus was that gay men buy it to wank over, women buy it as the spice to a hen party.


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