I was introduced to Playboy magazine at my dad's apartment complex, which my mom called International -- an abstract name so my brother and I wouldn't notice they were divorced. Where's daddy? He's not at home. He's at International, she'd answer. I didn't understand divorce, let alone Playboy's Party Jokes, but I was drawn to the black and white ink drawings... to the figurative.
At International, Playboy wasn't hidden in some corner. It was on the table, in plain sight, possibly because my Dad viewed it not as a nudie magazine but as something of a poli-sci magazine (he's an academic) with pictures of women in between.
Twenty-five years later, I have a rather extensive collection of vintage Playboy magazines from the 70's and 80's because it is a brand that marks culture in a very clear way from fashion to design to visual art. As a visual artist, I'd call it a designer's history book, with wordy layouts and woodsy textures that have now been outpaced by viral video. As a brand enthusiast, I'd say that the magazine is a reflection of how interesting we are, and of how much information we can appreciate and consume. We can read a Ted Turner bio, then turn the page and see the female figure. Why does content have to be so segmented like it is today?
And so I was thrilled last Thursday when I was invited to Partners and Spade to hang out with The Playboy Commission to witness the new Playboy iPad, iPlayboy, archive. Fifty-eight years of Playboy, all digital. T and I flipped through the Marilyn Monroe issue from 1953 -- her first nude shoot ever. The page after the "centerfold"? An introduction to Sherlock Holmes.
I guess they need to rename the idea of the centerfold and how it functions now that it's digital. How about calling it belowthefold? As for the functionality of a digital centerfold? I will let you guys send comments to @playboy. They haven't figured that out yet.
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Photos courtesy of Playboy.