Airs March 4, 2017 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube: https://youtu.be/HhgXViF07kA
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of March 5, 2017.
Remember New Coke? It was Coca Cola’s attempt to fix something that wasn’t broken. Take a formula that merrily rotted people’s teeth for years, change it for no particular reason, market the hell out of it, and watch customers start drinking Pepsi. The Coke folks realized their error, and they reinstituted the classic recipe, and everything went back to normal levels of thirst quenching and obesity.
So who was the latest company to overthink its brand and screw the pooch? None other than Playboy magazine. In a stroke of madness—well, stroke may not be the best word—Playboy changed its whole ethos. Like so many magazines today, Playboy has felt the terrible pinch of the digital era. Circulation is down—and I don’t mean sales, I mean Playboy readers are so old, their bodies have no circulation. Meanwhile, along comes Maxim, also targeting the men’s-lifestyle market, and they eat away at Playboy’s potential younger audience. And unlike Playboy, Penthouse, Juggz, and my favorite, Barely Legal Anal Nurses, Maxim’s photo shoots are scanty but still clothed. The honchos at Playboy must have been scratching their heads, along with their crab lice, and wondering, “For years, men lied about reading us for the articles. Now there’s this other magazine with articles, and they’re proud to read it for the bikinis. What the what?”
So Playboy made the decision a year ago to eschew nudity. Think of it: Playboy without nudity. That’s like Auschwitz without Jews in it. This was the magazine that put a naked Marilyn Monroe in its first issue, the magazine that made stars of Dorothy Stratten, Anna Nicole Smith, and many others who died of natural causes; this was the magazine that served as ground zero for the sexual revolution, mainstream pornography, and the worldwide Kleenex shortage of 1967.
But times change, and for three decades now, Playboy has had to compete with digital magazines, cable TV and home video, changing popular tastes, and shifting cultural landscapes. It hasn’t helped that the visionary founder of Playboy, Hugh Hefner, is still alive. If he’d dropped dead years ago, he’d be extolled as an iconic, nostalgic reminder of America throwing off the shackles of the 1950s and embracing a world of new freedoms. But as a 90-year-old coot, Hef just makes people think of airbrushing, exploitation, and Bill Cosby honing his groping skills in the grotto. And what’s with those twins Hef was dating? How sexy is it to have two curvaceous, nymphomaniacal hotties give grampa a reacharound…just to change his ostomy bag.
But back to the nudity, or the removal thereof. When Ringling Brothers, responding to pressure from animal-rights groups, got rid of its elephants two years ago, what did that lead to? That’s right: the end of Ringling Brothers. When Playboy bid byebye to boobs and bushes…what happened? Actually, to be honest and surprising, sales went up a bit, especially for a younger demographic. And the magazine was able to be displayed more prominently on more newsstands. But it still wasn’t enough. Readers would look at Playboy, glance at the photos—instead of staring intently at them for several minutes— and then ask themselves, “Why am I still reading this?”
Cooper Hefner, the son of Hef and company COO since his sister stepped down in 2009, admitted putting ponchos over pussies was a mistake. In fact, “Nudity is Normal” is the motto on the cover of the March/April issue—an issue with mega-hot model Elizabeth Elam topless on the cover. Why, Playboy is even bringing back its party jokes, so all is right with the world. Who knows, maybe they’ll even bring back those cartoons with the wrinkly old, sex-crazed granny. I mean, she’s only 80 years older than Hef’s next girlfriend.
So welcome back old-fashioned Playboy. You’re still a dinosaur on the way to the amber yard, but at least along the way, you’ll help a few more teenage boys explore the wonders of gynecology. In a time when our government seems intent on yanking America back to the days of “Father Knows Best,” it’s heartening that once more, Playboy will leave it to beaver.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York. Show us your tits!
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