Monday, May 10, 2010
I don't think I had a seen a Playboy since about 1977 when my friend and I were perusing her dad's, Mr. F's, collection. (Hiding place: under the bed.) So last week, when a reader generously provided me with a copy, I was eager for the illicit thrill of checking it out. I waited until the kids were in bed. Then I waited further as they faked me out and kept creeping back out of their bedrooms, scaring the bejeezus out of me as I anxiously prepared to look at my forbidden reading materials.
When the kids finally went to bed--I swear, it was like they knew--I cracked open that baby and was utterly shocked. The magazine was the same as it was 35 year ago. I mean exactly the same.
The centerfold dutifully listed her "turn-ons" (a great smile, a good sense of humor) and "turnoffs" (bad manners and bad teeth), while tactfully not pointing out that no one uses the terms "turn-ons" and "turnoffs" anymore. (I blame my complete and utter nerdiness for my being entertained by the spelling oddity that "turn-on" is hyphenated while "turnoff" is not, instead of looking at the picture of the naked lady.) The naked ladies are just as they were in the 70s, less a little personal hair in the pubic region. They still pose strategically, not revealing any kind of up-close-and-personal viewpoints of their naughty bits.
And the jokes -- just the same as they were. The page of "Playboy Party Jokes," presumably intended for a man to break out at a party, thus enhancing his cool Playboy rep, still uses the same font and that same pen and ink drawing of the woman in the thigh-high stockings. Here's a sample joke: What is the punishment for bigamy? Two mothers-in-law. (Pause here for laugh and to elbow your impressed chums in the ribs.)
The cartoons are unchanged too. One in the March 2010 issue (the infamous John Meyer intereview issue) features two couples talking at a party. (That the couples are hetero goes without saying.) The male in one couple says, "Amy and I are in a mixed marriage. I'm in favor of swapping and she's against it." I find it interesting that in the space of two short sentences the cartoonist manages to squeeze in two woefully out-of-date terms--"mixed marriage" and "swapping."
In an era where anyone with a computer is about three clicks away from seeing live-action footage of a circus clown doing it with three transvestites and a baby elephant, Playboy now seems oddly...quaint. I picture that anyone who is getting a thrill from it would probably need to break out the smelling salts if they saw a current issue of Cosmopolitan with its how-to diagrams of the "reverse cowgirl" position and whatnot.
So I'm wondering, do you know anyone who reads Playboy? Do you read it? And if you do read it, are you, by any chance, Donald Hollinger, Marlo Thomas' ad man boyfriend on That Girl? Comment below or send an e-mail. (And remember, around here, you can always comment anonymously.)