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In a wood-paneled dining room, with Picasso and de Kooning prints on the walls, Mr. Jones nervously presented a radical suggestion: the magazine, a leader of the revolution that helped take sex in America from furtive to ubiquitous, should stop publishing images of naked women.

Hefner, now 89, but still listed as editor in chief, agreed. As part of a rede that will be unveiled next March, the print edition of Playboy will still feature women in provocative poses. But they will no longer be fully nude. Its executives admit that Playboy has been overtaken by the changes it pioneered.

For a generation of American men, reading Playboy was a cultural rite, an illicit thrill consumed by flashlight. Now every teenage boy has an Internet-connected phone instead. Pornographic magazines, even those as storied as Playboy, have lost their shock value, their commercial value and their cultural relevance. Many of the magazines that followed it have disappeared. Though detailed figures are not kept for adult magazines, many of those that remain exist in severely diminished form, available mostly in specialist stores.

Penthouse, perhaps the most famous Playboy competitor, responded to the threat from digital pornography by turning even more explicit. It never recovered. A look back at what made Playboy magazine and the lifestyle Hugh Hefner represented so prominent for decades. efforts to revamp Playboy, as recently as three years ago, have never quite stuck. And those who have accused it of exploiting women are unlikely to be assuaged by a modest cover-up.

This time, as the magazine seeks to compete with younger outlets like Vice, Mr. A judge once ruled that denying blind people a Braille version of it violated their First Amendment rights. Madonna, Sharon Stone and Naomi Campbell posed for the magazine at the peak of their fame. Its best-selling issue, in November of , sold more than seven million copies. Even those who disliked it cared enough to pay attention — Gloria Steinem, the pioneering feminist, went undercover as a waitress, or Playboy Bunny, in one of Mr.

When Mr. Hefner created the magazine, which featured Marilyn Monroe on its debut cover in , he did so to please himself. The latest rede, 62 years later, is more pragmatic. The magazine had already made some content safe for work, Mr. Flanders said, in order to be allowed on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, vital sources of web traffic. In August of last year, its website dispensed with nudity.

As a result, Playboy executives said, the average age of its reader dropped from 47 to just over 30, and its web traffic jumped to about 16 million from about four million unique users per month. The magazine will adopt a cleaner, more modern style, said Mr. Jones, who as chief content officer also oversees its website. It is not yet decided whether there will still be a centerfold. Its sex columnist, Mr.

And Playboy will continue its tradition of investigative journalism, in-depth interviews and fiction. The target audience, Mr. Flanders said, is young men who live in cities. Some of the moves, like expanded coverage of liquor, are partly commercial, Mr. Flanders admitted; the magazine must please its core advertisers.

And all the changes have been tested in focus groups with an eye toward attracting millennials — people between the ages of 18 and something, highly coveted by publishers. The magazine will feature visual artists, with their work dotted through the s, in part because research revealed that younger people are drawn to art.

The company now makes most of its money from licensing its ubiquitous brand and logo across the world — 40 percent of that business is in China even though the magazine is not available there — for bath products, fragrances, clothing, liquor and jewelry among other merchandise. Nudity in the magazine risks complaints from shoppers, and diminished distribution. Playboy, which had gone public in , was taken private again in by Mr. Hefner with Rizvi Traverse Management, an investment firm founded by Suhail Rizvi, a publicity-shy Silicon Valley investor, who has interests in Twitter, Square and Snapchat among others.

The firm now owns over 60 percent. Hefner owns about 30 percent some shares are held by Playboy management. The magazine is profitable if money from d editions around the world is taken into , Mr. He sees it, he said, as a marketing expense. He and Mr.

Jones feel that the magazine remains relevant, not least because the world has gradually adopted Mr. Asked whether Mr. Flanders responded that Mr. Playboy in Popular Culture A look back at what made Playboy magazine and the lifestyle Hugh Hefner represented so prominent for decades. Daily Business Briefing. Updated July 15, , a.

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