The Anatomy of “Playboy”
AT FIRST GLANCE, the magazines-Gent, Dude, Nugget, Playboy, and the rest-seem about as remarkable as bananas in a fruit store.
The widely publicized key feature is a foldout naked babe. The conception, that of a hundred successful publications beginning with the Spectator and Sam Richardson’s model Letters, calls for an editorial voice functioning as a guide for the innocent, a tutor in manners and desires. The finish is standard, high-gloss Formica- American. The lust for respectability (which translates to: eagerness for acceptance by media men in the big agencies) appears identical with that of old Holidays and new Posts (which means that the magazines are hospitable to what are called Name Writers). The career of the man who launched or re-launched the Form is itself pure convention-one more Lucky Larry tale, as it were, to be added to the annals of entrepreneurial ascent. Yet even after these and other reservations have been gravely meditated, the new girlie books remain hard to write off. They swim, all sleazy Bikini voluptuousness, with fewer hake in their wake, to be sure, than most of the great whales of mass entertainment now wallowing in commentators’ kens. But when placed in the context of recent publishing history, their emergence ranks as a major popcultural event.
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