I have been a long time subscriber to Playboy. Over the last few years they have offered really good renewal rates—as low as $12 for a year. Can't hardly beat that. But I received in the mail an offer from them for two years for a few cents under ten dollars. That is an offer very difficult to refuse. A year ago it would have been automatic. But now I had to think about it.
Playboy magazine changed very severely in March.
To be completely fair I must admit that I heartily approve on one change: all articles and stories run straight through. No more "continued on page 75," or "concluded on page 132." I've wondered for years why they didn't just run the whole thing in one piece. That is the only change I like. And they have kept "The Playboy Interview" and the monthly fiction contribution, both of which I enjoy. And they still have "The Franco File" which is worthwhile and the fashion and other product evaluations and features which I don't really care about one way or the other.
The big headline-grabbing change was announced months in advance, The magazine would no longer show nudes. The reasoning was that nudity and even erotica was only a free click away on the internet and it was superfluous in the magazine. They would still feature pretty girls (or beautiful women—a subjective difference) but those young ladies would no longer be shown nude.
By itself that did not bother me. I like looking at pretty girls and nude pretty girls even more. But that was not the only reason I subscribed to Playboy. Unfortunately, almost every other feature that I did like in the magazine was also discontinued. I was an avid reader of the Jokes Page…no more jokes in the magazine. I also enjoyed the clever and well-drawn cartoons, many offering drawings of beautiful women that could not possibly exist outside of fantasy. Bye-bye cartoons. Another source of tongue-in-cheek humor were the "Men" and "Women" articles every month. Now those, too, are a thing of the past.
Playboy abandoned its sense of humor. The magazine crumpled it up and tossed it into the waste basket.
It seems, too, that they lost their judgment on art. The illustrations they've featured so far are unimaginative, amateurish, and totally without humor or drama or meaning.
I really enjoyed reading "The Playboy Advisor" every month. Chip Rowe wrote well, included humor on occasion, and usually covered around a dozen questions each issue. Now they have a new "advisor" that addresses one question each issue.
Two other features I thought were an integral part of the magazine were "Dear Playboy" and "The Playboy Forum." The first was simply the publication of letters from readers and occasionally an editorial answer. The Forum featured one or two researched articles about a relevant modern topic often highlighting news of legislation or law enforcement regarding issues of interest to Playboy readers. The Forum included readers' observations and comments. I've had comments published in the past in both the Forum and the Dear Playboy features. Not anymore; those features are gone. Along with that is the published email address for Dear Playboy correspondence.
This said to me loud and clear that the magazine no longer gave a tinker's damn what the readers thought about anything.
But all that together shouted out even louder one clear message: "Playboy is going cheaper!"
Clothed models are cheaper than nude ones. Plus, it's no longer necessary to airbrush out appendectomy scars or other "flaws." They can just wear clothing over that part. Cheaper.
They no longer have to pay for jokes or cartoons, which means they also no longer need to pay to edit all those contributions. Cheaper.
No doubt the new Advisor commands a smaller salary than the long-time and experienced Chip Rowe. Cheaper.
They no longer have to pay for those researched Forum articles, nor edit them, and the same goes for the "Men" and "Women" articles, so that saves money.
They no longer have to make editorial choices of which readers' comments will be printed in the Dear Playboy and Playboy Forum, so more money saved!
And regarding the April and May issues, they had many photographs of the model inside the magazine—pretty girls, both—but they chose the most un-flattering one to put on the cover! They apparently have a new editor to decide that…a cheaper one.
Playboy has always been a product that showed loyalty to the reader. Now it is obvious that they expect the reader to show loyalty to the product…they believe they can skate on their past performance.
Not with me.
I sent back their re-subscription offer with no money, but the assurance that I would allow my subscription to lapse, and a letter saying pretty much what I just wrote above, though a bit abbreviated.
I will miss my Playboy every month. But I have already missed most of it for the last three months, so it won't be that jarring a change.
I wonder where else I can find good jokes and great cartoons…internet, don't fail me now.