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Playboy goes PG, as iconic magazine outlaws nudity

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Harriet Hall
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Once a bastion of adolescent male sexual curiosity, Playboy magazine has announced that it will be relaunching without its infamous naked spreads.

The magazine has announced that, although it will continue to feature provocatively-posed women, there will be no nudity in its pages. Instead, it will focus on the quality of its journalism, after the March 2016 relaunch.

Revealing the news to The New York Times, the Playboy team said the reason for their decision was due to the unfettered access to nudity online.

Internet pornography has become so ubiquitous that a magazine like Playboy no longer holds the cachet of its early years.

“You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free,” says Scott Flanders, Playboy’s chief executive.

“It’s just passé at this juncture.”

The Playboy website already stopped posting naked images, so that they could have access to social media platforms which do not allow for such images. The result of this move has increased its web traffic, significantly.

The suggestion for the magazine’s relaunch came from Playboy’s senior editor, Cory Jones, and is supported by 89-year-old founder and editor-in-chief, Hugh Hefner.

Jones also said that the magazine, known for explicit naked images of celebrities including Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Daisy Lowe, will now become a more accessible publication.

Launched in 1953 with Marilyn Monroe on the cover, Playboy was created to appeal to men aged between 18-80.

In the 1970s, a quarter of all American male university students were regularly reading playboy, reports the Telegraph.

However, the magazine’s circulation has dropped from 5.6 million in the 1970s to 800,000 today.

Although becoming famous for its liberal approach to nudity, featuring stars including Dolly Parton, Brigitte Bardot, Cindy Crawford, and Madonna in its spreads, Playboy has also been known for publishing articles by history’s most famous and prolific writers.

Previous issues have featured stories from such luminaries as Ray Bradbury (whose Farenheit 451 was serialised across several issues), PG Woodhouse, Roald Dahl, Ian Flemming, Jack Kerouac and even Margaret Atwood.

The magazine has also featured interviews with political heavyweights including Martin Luther King Jr, Jimmy Carter, Malcolm X and Fidel Castro.

Other notable interviews in its vast and colourful history include Truman Capote, Germain Greer, Muhammad Ali and Grace Kelly.

The new and improved Playboy will feature a “sex positive female” writing a sex column, and more focus on arts and liquor coverage.

Comparing themselves to Vice in The New York Times, Jones says that “the difference between us and Vice is that we’re going after the guy with the job.”

“Don’t get me wrong, 12-year-old me is very disappointed in current me,” he says. "But it’s the right thing to do.”

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Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall is a former Stylist contributor.