Happy Birthday Playgirl (or Life Begins At 40!)


Hello, and welcome to a brand new year of sexual exploration and wonderment!

I thought I’d kick off 2013 with a celebration…there are many big events happening in this year for me and mine, including weddings, Big birthdays (both grandmas – huzzah!) and my own. Yes…I am approaching the big 30, but more on that later!

January 2013 is special, and worthy of note, as it marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Playgirl Magazine.

The magazine was founded in 1973 during the height of the feminist movement as a response to erotic men’s magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse that featured similar photos of women. In an age when women’s lib and second wave feminism were still rocking the status quo, before the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Discrimination Act became law in Britain, Playgirl offered women (and as seen by the Playgirl readership stats, gay men) easy access to sexual images of naked, attractive men.

During its history, Playgirl has featured male frontal nudity except for the early issues in 1973, and 1987 when John Paul became the year’s first full frontal centerfold in November after ten months of non-nude photo spreads.

Throughout the years, the magazine has matured as erections, foreskin and non-Caucasian models have appeared in the magazine. Geoff Minger became the first Playgirl model to display a “full” erection in the ground-breaking January 1980 issue. In 2007, the magazine featured the first ever centerfold to display a pierced penis, in addition to pierced nipples and navel.

Intrigued by this, I compared various 1973 Playgirl photos with the original 1953 shots of the first Playboy photoshoot (Marilyn Monoroe – anniversary blog coming in December), and for chronological comparison, with shots of Playboy bunnies from the early 1970s.

Now, no disrespect to those early camera friendly male models, but I have to say… I think the Playgirl readers get the raw end of the deal. I don’t know what I was expecting really, but as with the first time I saw a naked man, I took one look at these photos and laughed like a cavalier.

Hair was big in the 1970s, as seen with huge sideburns, huge mustaches, and pubic hair like giant balls of candy floss. Long before the days of metrosexual grooming, these guys were clearly into their fuzz.

Facial expressions ranged from casual sexy smiles and come hither eyes, to grimaces of pain, scary bared teeth, and several guys who looked like they’d just farted.

The settings and locations seems to be a tad bizarre as well…the usual sports/beach shots were interspersed with naked driving, horse grooming, and painting. A lot of the photos were side shots, half concealed, or the merest hint of hair or bulge…one model even covering his modesty with a terrified looking strategically placed kitten.

Now don’t get me wrong…there were many sexy aspects to these photos.

The hair, as amusing as it was, was a nice change from the standard shaved/waxed porn stars and models you frequently see today. The Anchorman style doesn’t do it for me, but I love a bit of stubble and I’d rather see a bit of hair on a bloke than not. Although trimming and grooming is nice, at the end of the day, body hair is natural, designed to keep us warm, and in some cases, can be very sexy.

These guys were buff…the muscles and toning was clearly the result of raw natural talent, or hard work down the gym. No fake steroid induced bodies or air=brushing to be seen.

The settings and coy aspect to their shots? Hardly their fault. This was still early days for easy access to naked male images in magazines, and as seen by later shots, was a work in progress. You do get the sense, however, that the Playgirl photos aren’t quite as relaxed in their attitudes as Playboy.

Even with the first centrefold, and Marilyn’s 1953 shoot, there is a different tone to the photos of the naked women. They seem more casual, more playful…dare I say more fun?

There is a long held opinion that men are sexually more visual than women, and society in general is more accepting of the naked female form. Whatever your politics or beliefs, the tone of the images shown these magazines seem to concur with this theory. The naked female photos seemed to say, ” Yeah, she’s naked, she looks sexy, we’re trying to get you horny!” The naked male images were more subtle, almost as if they wanted to take naked photos that weren’t TOO naked, or too revealing, but still counted. They seemed to say ” Yes, we’re naked, and sexy”, but in a way that was on occasion apologetic, even guilty…as if the magazine was a dirty secret.

Now, as discussed before, Playgirl has gone forward in leaps and bounds, and now, with the ease of the internet, any lady can find sexy naked men at the touch of button. But is there equality in the world of erotic publishing?

I found links to hundreds of magazines offering straight guys images of lovely ladies. There were countless links to magazines aimed at gay men, offering visual delights for their pleasure. From an albeit brief search, I found 6 magazines aimed at straight women, 3 of which are still operational. There were even less for the lesbian readership.

So why the difference?

You could argue that gay or straight, it’s simply down the fact men are more visual. You could argue that even today, woman aren’t generally as comfortable with sexual imagery, because of the perceived negative social stigma. It could just be because if we’re up for it, we’d rather be participating than looking. Maybe the world just isn’t ready to accept the idea of lots of naked men being looked at the way women are.

Either way, whatever happens to naked sexy men in the future of publishing, I would like to tip my hat to those brave men who posed 40 years ago, and broke another barrier down for women everywhere. You gave us the option to perv, and I salute you for it!


About littlewelshminx

I'm a Welsh girl in my 30s, living and working in south Wales. I like reading, writing, watching films (especially things that make me laugh) hanging out with friends, going to bars to drink and dance playing guitar (badly) listening to lots of different types of music (opera to dance to bluegrass to rock) going to the theatre, and I've recently started swimming. I have 2 degrees, and have had lots and lots of different jobs, including working as a barmaid, waitress, KP, shop assistant, admin assistant, events, sales, PR, marketing....writing suits me best. I will be writing about sex from as many angles as possible - from personal experience, through academia, history, geography, culture, myth, legend, fact and fiction. What is sexy? What turns us on? What do we really think and feel about sex? If you like what you read, please follow me, and pass it on :)
This entry was posted in erotic, future, hair removal, lust, magazines, naked, naked men, naked women, Playboy, Playgirl, porn, Sex, turn ons. Bookmark the permalink.

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