Playgirl: A review of its last issue
Posted February 2, 2009on:
When I heard that the January-February 2009 Playgirl would be its last printed issue, I had to get a copy. I was never keen on the mag, though. Like most women, I prefer some kind of story with my sexually explicit material, so I tend to go for either erotic fiction or porn videos with a plot. Nevertheless, I always thought it was kinda cool that there was this magazine with pictures of nude men aimed at women — the feminine answer to Playboy. So I wanted to see how the last issue of Playgirl compared with the ones I remembered giggling about (and lusting over) with my girlfriends.
The issue displays lots of nude men, as you would expect. Everywhere you look, your gaze meets penises, from flaccid to fully erect. (This was not always the case. For much of Playgirl‘s history, erections were taboo, and for one forlorn year in the 1980s, the magazine was completely dickless.) There’s a pictorial of a man and a woman, both nude and doing everything but actually having sex. However — and this is a big defect — the guys are just not as drop-dead gorgeous as I remember them being. Compare last coverboy Sean Patrick in the accompanying image, who appears nude in the magazine, with 1986 Man of the Year Brian Buzzini (turn off “Safe Search” to get the best view; yes, you can even find the famous centerfold of Brian Buzzini sporting a lovely erection).
After you get done gazing at the nude men, what else is there to see? There’s a sweet farewell letter from editor Nicole Caldwell to the “fierce Playgirl posse, sharing a common commitment to unearth the world’s most beautiful men, and dishing about issues women like us deal with every day.” Women write about their experiences having sex in Second Life and having sex with strap-ons. There are more serious articles about genital mutilation and prostitution in Amsterdam. There’s some all-too-short erotic fiction. There are some travel articles and movie reviews. Again, it’s all a pale reflection of the old Playgirl.
The magazine has always been marketed as “entertainment for women.” In recent years, editors have admitted that at least 50% of the Playgirl‘s readers were men. The advertising seems to have caught up with that. On just the first few pages, there are ads for toys in which to insert one’s dick, creams to enlarge one’s dick, and just plain lots of dicks (“the world’s largest gay porn portal”). It doesn’t seem like the haven for female sexuality it once was.
The Future of Playgirl
Playgirl lives on as a Web site and producer of erotic videos aimed at women. It’s not the same as having a nudie magazine out there, just for us. The magazine was never as widely distributed as its male counterpart, so you may have to look around to find that last issue, and in any case, it will soon disappear from newsstands altogether. (It’s already selling on some collectors’ sites for $25.)
More about Playgirl
- Goodnight, Sweet Hunks: A Former Editor Offers a Playgirl Postmortem, Radar, Aug. 4, 2008
- They Couldn’t Get Past the ‘Mimbos’ by Cara Buckley, New York Times, Nov. 16, 2008
- R.I.P. Playgirl by Tracy Clark-Flory, Salon.com, Nov. 17, 2008
- Playgirl’s Queer Canard by Judy Cole, Nerve.com, 1997