Playmate of the Year Redux

PlayboyPlayboy has unveiled Nina Daniele as their latest Playmate of the Year. Why is this such a big deal? Nina is the first woman to be bestowed this an honor since the magazine’s founder, Hugh Hefner died, last year. She also appears on the cover of Playboy as the magazine sports a brand new logo. Instead of the usual, ‘Entertainment for Men,’ the seminal men’s magazine will now sport the ‘Entertainment for All’ motto.

In an 11-page retro-style pictorial, fashion photographer Jennifer Stenglein has shot Daniele as the infamous “Femlin” pinup character. This cartoon was created by Hefner and illustrated by Playboy favorite Leroy Neiman, appearing first in the magazine in 1963. Femlin has as much been featured in the magazine’s pages as on lots of Playboy product. She was a sure totem of an age when the magazine was not only the forerunner of its kind but when the nude centerfold was indeed the ‘center’ of the magazine’s appeal, along with its fiction, “The Playboy Interview” and reviews of music and film. In 2015 nudes were banished from the Playboy, but Hefner’s son Cooper, who runs the brand now-and recently changed the motto-also re-introduced nudity to the magazine last year. That March/April 2017 release was the issue that Nina first appeared.

In an era of #MeToo and the consistent attention on women’s rights, the argument of Playboy’s relevance, even its possible propagation of negative stereotypes, especially in light on the nude now reinstated (and the press that a new Playmate Of The Year is already getting) is a weighty concern for many. But as Connor wrote in a press release he sent to Fox News:

“Playboy’s content has always been and always will be created with the male point-of-view and our take of masculinity in mind. But the truth is the Playboy brand now appeals to a hugely diverse group of fans, including a very substantive way, women who intersect with Playboy at our events, clubs and through our products and fashion collaborations.”

Hugh Hefner Is Not Dead…In Our Hearts

Hugh_Hefner_Don_Adams_Playboy_After_Dark_1970Surely, given the latex world we live in, sexy shots of models in naughty haute couture or close to nothing at all peaks our interest. But we’d argue that what Hugh Hefner (who died this week at the age of 91) presented with his work was more than just naughty pics. His lifestyle, ‘branding,’ before that word got coopted by Housewives reality stars, presented a singular vision. And the man himself was a historical cultural figure, possibly as famous as his Playboy magazine, the T.V. shows, and the clubs he created.

A cartoonist in his earliest publishing incarnations, Hef borrowed money in the early 50’s, after working for “Esquire,” to begin “Playboy” in 1953. An infamous bunch of Marilyn Monroe nudes, quite tame by comparison to what we see today across any celeb’s daily Instagram offerings, were featured in the magazine’s first issue. From there, there was no stopping Hef’s vision.

But along the way, fighting for his philosophy of sexual freedoms, Hugh Hefner was arrested on obscenity charges (later thrown out of court), established his Playboy Foundation from the arrest and fought against censorship and to fund sexual awareness and research. The magazine published notables of the day. Fiction writers like Ray Bradbury and Ian Flemming. Interviewing Malcom X, and Ayn Rand. Showcasing cartoonists and artists like LeRoy Neiman. Playboy Magazine exposed and expounded on a lifestyle of the better things in life.

Of course Mr. Hefner would be labeled a misogynist (and worse) many times over by theologians and feminists who opposed his work. But it can too easily be forgotten that this was a man who was a staunch a vocal supporter of the ‘The Pill’ when it was first introduced. He received the first-ever Founder’s Hero of the Heart Award from the ‘Children of the Night’ organization (they work to take kids from prostitution). He championed performers of any sex or color to work in his Playboy Clubs. And in 1982 Hef handed over his operation to his daughter Christie, a woman.

We as much celebrate the magazine magnate as the man who was Hugh Hefner.

What’s Old Is New Again…At Playboy Magazine

old Playboy and newThe style of outfits they wear, and the actual size and layout of the magazine might change, even how much of what they show might be lessened, but Playboy marches on. And just recently they marched on with a most unique campaign: Playmates of the past recreated ‘their’ Playboy Magazine covers, posing these many years later, in the same couture and in the same poses. Proving that the “Once a Playmate, always a Playmate,” saying is true, we get 7 ladies in 7 different covers showing off their before’s and now’s.

Model Candace Collins Jordan was shot again for her 1979 cover, while Renee Tenison (the magazine’s first African-American Playmate) showed herself again for her 1990 cover. This campaign was developed by Cooper Hefner, Hugh Hefner’s son, who has been very vocal about recent changes the magazine has made. “Hef”s daughter Christine was chairwoman and CEO of Playboy Ent. at one time, an appointment that seems in clear opposition to those old critics who claim anti-feminism in the original Hefner ethos.

A print magazine-and a men’s print magazine featuring nude models-surviving 64 years is no small feat. Arguably the Playboy brand-which at one time included T.V. shows, clubs and casinos-has seen stronger market presence over the years. Those aforementioned changes Cooper railed against saw the magazine banning full frontal nudity a year ago, but coming back to nude models most recently. As Cooper told Business Insider:: ‘When you have a company and the founder is responsible for kick-starting the sexual revolution and then you pluck out that aspect of the company’s DNA by removing the nudity, it makes a lot of people including me sit and say: ‘What the hell is the company doing?” 

Maybe this recreation of seven classic magazine, championing older Playboy models, regardless of their age, is just another way Cooper sees of giving Playboy back its DNA.

Playboy Magazine’s 1st Non Nude Issue: Less Of What It Was, But Does Anyone Care?

1385290As we reported when it was first announced, not only will Playboy not be showing latex couture (as per usual), but full frontal nudity is now out as far as the magazine is concerned. The first ever non-nude Playboy (the magazine’s March 2016 issue) hits the stands next week, with Snap Chat model Sarah McDaniel on its cover.

Not so surprisingly, Playboy claims the new non nude photos they run are not airbrushed…a technique this magazine practically invented (and that the net and photo-shopping have taken to an all-together different level.) But as this magazine was known for its nudes (although most men claim they truly get Playboy to read the articles) the question of what Playboy’s role in magazine publishing has plenty scratching their heads.

Wanting to reach a younger demographic, recognizing they can’t best net access to nude pictures (and video) of females (and males), hoping to change their brandfor products above and beyond the magazine, all these and many more reasons could be why Playboy is simply forgoing the nude model. But is Playboy simply getting rid of the one thing Playboy does better than anyone else, even if not so many people care to get that one thing from Playboy anymore?

This change in a stalwart American institution, one that has as much influenced culture, literature, politics and fashion, might signal the death knell for a certain kind of salaciousness. It also might be reflective of our ever-creeping P.C.-ness. Or it might simply be the very real application of that oft-heard refrain of the net replacing print. ‘It’ might bring the end of Playboy. The non-nude new Playboy might also simply blip on the cultural radar for next week…to be replaced by some new Kardashian doings, or the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies box office numbers.

Who can really say what a little covered-up skin might do to us all? “I have come to praise Hugh Hefner, not to bury him.”



Playboy Magazine Says Goodbye To Its Nudes

marilyn-monroe-cover-playboy-1953Forget about showing naughty lingerie, latex accessories or fetish wear. This new announcement might very well fall into the category of a great big head scratch and loudly uttered “Huh?”: Playboy magazine says it will stop publishing nudes!

Being in the alternative fashion business as we are, the question of whether to show what to show has always been in the mix of Von Gutenberg considerations. But from the start of Von Gutenberg we simply knew nudity would not serve us in how we wanted to present out latex stylings. But Playboy? Hugh Hefner’s iconic creation was built on the nude, the fold-out centerfold, infamous photo spreads of naked famous women. The corporation simply claimed this week that in this age of porn being everywhere across the web, nude pictures are not something anyone is even looking for, looking at them too much as it is. Hugh Hefner has given his ok to the new edict that will see the March 2016 issue of the magazine the first to implement Playboy’s new PG-13 rated pics.

Scott Flanders CEO of Playboy claims “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free.” “And so it’s (pictures) just passé at this juncture.”

As is true of many print magazines, the U.S. edition of Playboy is not showing a profit. In fact, it is only published to bolster the international editions of the magazine and Playboy licensing. Looking to attract millennials now with Playboys’ usual great reporting, fashion spreads and fiction, is the magazine simply cutting off its nose (and other wonderful body parts) to spite its face? Maybe it is less the ubiquity of porn that is the problem and more the fact that working to have your print magazine compete (and an older print magazine at that) in this digital age is not an easy task.

Something we are constantly tweaking here at Von Gutenberg.

There is even questions that within these changes if Playboy we still retain their iconic centerfold.