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Now might seem like an odd time for me to give up my subscription to Playboy magazine – considering that it is restoring nude models to its pages.

As you might recall, the men’s magazine surprised many when it announced a year ago that it would discontinue its decades-long practice of featuring naked women.

Instead, it filled its glossy pages with models in various states of undress but gone was the full-frontal nudity of the past.

Well, that idea apparently flopped like a rabbit’s ear because the company recently announced it was reversing course.

Cooper Hefner, a son of the Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, said on Twitter that the way the magazine portrayed nudity was dated, “but removing it entirely was a mistake.”

Hefner, the company’s chief creative officer, said in an interview with Business Insider that he thought the choice made no sense.

“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?’” he said.

What the hell is the company doing, indeed, is what I say.

When Playboy revamped the magazine, it lost some of its playfulness, smarts and voice, in my opinion.

It expanded the size of the pages, reduced the point size of the print (and for us oldsters who actually do read the articles, that makes a big difference), got rid of some favorite features and began feeling more like a general circulation news magazine.

With a metamorphosis like that, why would I want to keep subscribing — even at the heavily discounted rates it offered?

Consider, for example, the Playboy Advisor column.

The advisor answered reader questions about drinks, food and sex as well as travel and etiquette.

For a side-by-side comparison, I consulted the July/August 2015 edition (pre-redesign) and the July/August 2016 edition (post-redesign).

In the old Playboy, the column spread across two pages and answered 11 questions with a blend of wit and useful information.

In the new-and-improved version, it answered a single question and I found the writing to be meh.

Gone from the new version were the playful cartoons. Reduced was content about movies and television, which I enjoyed reading.

Sure, the models were pretty and all, but for crying out loud, I’m now old enough to be their father and some of them were born after I started my professional career.

But I did still enjoy the opinion pieces, the smart journalism and the interviews. Somehow with its revamp, it tinkered too much with those appealing elements and it lost me as a reader.

To be fair to the magazine, though, I have come to this realization: My reading material has evolved as I’ve aged.

I started with Highlights magazine.

Then I advanced to Boy’s Life.

Then came Mad, Cracked and National Lampoon.

From there it was onto Maxim and Playboy.

So maybe I’ve just naturally aged out of the publication that branded itself as “Entertainment for Men.”

Up next: AARP magazine — in big print.

Why I Won’t Miss the Photos of Naked Women in Playboy

 

Covering Up Cosmo? Stop the Double-Standard!

I was reading a story about the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan who was being promoted to Hearst magazines’ chief content officer after four years.

The editor, Joanna Coles, was quoted as saying: “I love Cosmo, but I gave it everything I had. I just didn’t have another sex position in me.”

That comment was a humorous nod to the magazine’s well-earned reputation for having every issue tout some kind of sex move or position or strategy on its cover.

Some of the headlines on covers and inside stories for a couple of issues I found from 2015 include: “Hot Sex Tonight: The No. 1 Way to Bring You Closer.” “The Sex Move He Will Worship You For.” “I Hired a Hooker With My Husband.”

Cosmopolitan has such a reputation that some vendors have taken to putting covers over its covers so as to not offend the shopping public or scar young impressionable minds.

Slate.com reported: “But for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE), formerly known as Morality in Media, Cosmopolitan is porn. The NCSE is behind a successful push — hardly the first of its kind — to place the magazine behind blinders in stores owned by two major chains, RiteAid and Delhaize America (which owns Hannaford Stores and Food Lion).”

I’m calling shenanigans – and a double standard – on that.

As my old man would say: “Are you serious or delirious?”

Let’s start with Men’s Health, a magazine I read fairly regularly.

Among the teases on covers of its magazines in my stockpile: “Set off fireworks in the bedroom!” and “Naughty sex: She wants it bad.”

But I don’t read about anyone clutching their pearls over men’s magazine covers.

Nope.

How about this one? “Best. Sex. Ever! We show you how.”

Guess where that one appeared?

Cosmopolitan? Men’s Health? Glamour?

Nope.

That was on the cover of the August/September issue of AARP magazine last year.

I am no prude by a long shot but I am no Larry Flynt either.

It is true that Cosmopolitan’s covers are probably steamier than those of the newly revamped Playboy, which eliminated nude pictorials, redesigned its content and whose tamed covers now share more in common with bodice-ripper romance novels sold at Barnes & Noble.

But the idea of putting Cosmopolitan magazines behind blinders is laughable.

To begin with, hiding them will only pique more curiosity about what’s on the covers in the first place.

Second, you openly hawk in racks at the checkout lines the drivel that makes up the supermarket tabloids like The National Enquirer (“Celebrity Celluloid!” “Obama Cloned by Space Aliens!”) and not bat an eyelash?!

Third, given the backseat that print is taking and the continuing ascension of digital content, shouldn’t we be more worried about what is available at the click of a mouse or a swipe on our smartphones?

Let’s get our priorities straight.

Before we go putting blinders on Cosmopolitan magazine, let’s take ours off first.

In Defense of Cosmo

I confess.

Seeing the new issue of The New Yorker, crumpled up and stuffed into my mailbox each week, never fails to give me a legitimate thrill. I look forward to shutting out the cacophony of my New York City commute by diving into the venerable magazine’s essays, fiction, satire, and cartoons.

I grew up loving magazines. Like many, comic books were the gateway and I moved on to Mad, National Lampoon, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, Playboy and many others. Including an occasional perusal of Cosmopolitan.

Yes. Cosmo. 

I’d wager most men reading this have flipped through a copy at least once in their lives. Nowadays it seems as ubiquitous as Reader’s Digest once was. It’s unavoidable in most waiting rooms and bathroom reading racks.

The magazine’s cover regularly features heavily airbrushed female celebrities awkwardly posing in stylish outfits, displaying copious amounts of cleavage, with overwrought headlines enticing readers to check out the articles about “Orgasm Virgins” or how to “Look Leaner Naked: The 14-day Workout”.

Last year several large U.S. retailers began selling the magazine behind U-shaped blinders specifically designed to cover the headlines on the cover. The décolletage is fine. The tips on how to have better sex? Not so much.

On this episode of the show, Christopher and I dig into the hypocrisy of censoring magazines like Cosmopolitan, and its many look-a-likes, while magazines aimed at men, like Maxim and Men’s Health get a pass at the very same retailers using blinders.

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