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Culture: The Playboy Pictorial Era Ends

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Written by LaShawn Encarnacion aka The Dark Knight of Sports

In October 2015, Playboy announced that starting with their March 2016 issue it will end its pictorial era. The question as to who would grace the final pictorial was answered in early December.

One of the most famous Playboy cover-girls to ever grace the magazine will once again be the the main focus on the final pictorial edition of Playboy magazine. Pamela Anderson, who has been used a record 15 times for their pictorial, 14-times as its cover-girl, had been battling with Hepatitis C while being a mother and conservationist/advocate for animals.

After making sure it was O.K. with her son, Anderson posed for the final farewell to the pictorial edition of the iconic magazine of 57 years.

The term “sex sells” may have been a term that was recently created within the masses but it was based in the concept of the man who was the originator of the term, Hugh Hefner. His vision at the time was extremely taboo but one during the times of war, was one of need.

With the popularity of Marilyn Monroe at the time, it was Hefner’s vision and contribution to the war effort to give the men something to take their minds off of combat. The cover was of Marilyn in a very sexy position (fully clothed) with her mouth lustfully opened. The initial issue sold out in weeks and the birth of the nudity magazine was born.

Many big name people were inside the nudity magazine but not posing but giving exclusive interviews. Names like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X gave very in depth interviews in Playboy. Rock Legend John Lennon admitted his adultery behavior on Yoko Ono to the magazine as well in the January issue of 1981.

Playboy has been the platform for women to use to enhance their careers, re-ignite their careers and for some, just to reinforce that their are other views of sexy than the typical norm.

Some of the names to grace the cover of Playboy are names who still are making a major impact in the pop culture of today.

The a fore mentioned Pamela Anderson is a constant conservationist and major player of PETA. But originally she got her start playing small roles in a shoe called Tool Time with Tim Allen and Charles in Charge before getting her first big break in a certain television show with an iconic red swimsuit by the name Baywatch.

Other actresses who have posed for Playboy include: Denise Richards: December 2004 edition, Kim Basinger (February 1983 edition), Drew Berrymore (January 1995 edition) and Margot Kidder (March 1975 edition).

Sports athletes are no stranger to posing for the iconic magazine to help their brands and the sport/company they represent.

Joanie Laurer aka Chyna of the WWE (November 2000 edition and January 2002 edition), (Amanda Beard: July 2007 edition), Gabrielle Reece (January 2001 edition), Torrie Wilson (May 2003 edition alone and then again in a tag-team pictorial with fellow WWE diva Sable in March 2004 edition).

Television stars are also known to have graced in pictorials with their flesh and bare skin as well.

Suzanne Summers of Three’s Company (February 1980 edition and again in December 1984 edition). Dian Parkinson, Barker Beauty on Price is Right (December 1991 and May 1993), Farrah Fawcett of Charlie’s Angels (December 1995 edition and again in July 1997 edition). Women of Baywatch edition (June 1998 edition), t.v. personality Brooke Burke-Charvet (May 2001 edition and again in November edition of 2004), Karina Smirnoff of Dancing with the Stars (May 2011 edition) and former Playmate of the Year, camoes in movies like Epic Movie and House Bunny, host of “Attack of the Show” and avid comic-con attendee Sara Jean Underwood (July 2006 edition, Playmate of the Year edition in 2007 just to name a few). 

Musicians also managed to find their way to the insides of Playboy. Some at the apex of their careers and a few to re-launch theirs.

La Toya Jackson (March 1989 edition and again in the November 1991 edition), Samantha Fox (October 1996 edition), Belinda Carlisle (August 2001 edition), Tiffany (April 2002 edition), Carnie Wilson of Wilson Phillips (August 2003 edition) and Deborah “Debbie” Gibson (March 2005 edition).

Even individuals whose fame is constantly in question have used Playboy to elevate themselves into stardom and no one has done that better than social media mogul Kim Kardashian. Her edition was one of the most desired and sold issues of all time.

The Playboy brand and pictorial issue is an international phenomenon and is across numerous nations around the world.

When Hugh Hefner first started the magazine, he was originally battling against censorship and free press. His vision quickly became a platform for women to become empowered as women’s rights became more of a concept of the world in the 70’s and 80’s and then later a launching platform for marketing and relaunching careers in the recent decades.

For those who still question as to why Playboy decided to go with a bunny logo, he gives that answer in an interview with Look magazine in 1967. Here is his direct quote:

“The rabbit, the bunny, in America has a sexual meaning; and I chose it because it’s a fresh animal, shy, vivacious, jumping – sexy. First it smells you then it escapes, then it comes back, and you feel like caressing it, playing with it. A girl resembles a bunny. Joyful, joking. Consider the girl we made popular: the Playmate of the Month. She is never sophisticated, a girl you cannot really have. She is a young, healthy, simple girl – the girl next door . . . we are not interested in the mysterious, difficult woman, the femme fatale, who wears elegant underwear, with lace, and she is sad, and somehow mentally filthy. The Playboy girl has no lace, no underwear, she is naked, well-washed with soap and water, and she is happy.”

The jaunty rabbit was quickly a popular symbol of extroverted male culture, becoming a lucrative source of merchandizing revenue for Playboy.[45] In the 1950s, it was adopted as military aircraft insignia for the Navy’s VX-4 fighter-evaluation squadron.

Beginning March 2016, Playboy will no longer be featuring “full nudity” in their publications. Playboy CEO Scott Flanders acknowledged the magazine’s inability to compete with freely available Internet pornography and nudity; according to him, “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture”. Hefner agreed with the decision.

There is no question that within the pages of Playboy magazine there have been numerous Women Crush Wednesdays candidates. Women who have graced the pages who have been apart of history in some form or the other for this country and the world.

So what is next for Playboy after this. Online sky’s the limit. But as for print, the question remains unknown as print media continues to become a more “dinosaur” form of media.

FYI: Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @TheDarkTruthASN

AND catch my weekly podcast “The Dark Truth” every Monday evening. 10 PM CT, 8 PM Pacific.


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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