Playboy’s mid-life crisis

Playboy’s 50th anniversary issue will hit the stands on December 2nd, and I want to get my prediction out for the 50th Anniversary Playmate before any hints get released. I’ve been studying “The Great 50th Anniversary Playmate Hunt” pictorial in the December issue for weeks now, stopping only occasionally for food and more lotion, and I think I got her.

I?m choosing Jennifer Pankratz, the cheerleading class president, page 90, left. I have no advance knowledge or insider information for this, it’s just my guess and I could easily be wrong. There are many extraordinarily beautiful women there to choose from, and while one or two of them might get kicked out of bed I predict there’d be a hell of a scramble on the floor.

But I feel she most completely represents the Playboy ideal in several respects: she’s gorgeous, she’s blonde, she possesses that magical “wholesome yet sexy” look that Playboy has become justifiably famous for, and like the other girls she’s been Photoshopped until her own mother couldn’t pick her out of a lineup.

What the hell happened, guys? Since its beginning Playboy has been known for its beautiful women so that’s nothing new, but you’ve always leaned towards the “girl next door” look, the girl you know but never dreamed you’d see naked, the nice girl. No sluts, tramps, skanks, or hot wet bitches for these hallowed pages. And by sticking to that goal, and by supplementing it with excellent articles, penetrating interviews and awe-inspiring fiction, you’ve held their position as the leader in men’s magazines.

And you’re boring me to tears.

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I grew up on Playboy. Literally, I swiped my Dad’s as soon as I was old enough to walk and turn pages. Playboy had lots of stuff to keep me occupied, and best of all, Playmates always smiled. Sure, they might moan a bit or whip a little sultry look on you now and then, but for the most part they were smiling and obviously happy to be there.

Playboy got celebrities naked, which as more than I could do on my own.

Playboy kept me up to date on just which new trends in electronics and fashion I couldn’t afford from month to month.

Playboy interviewed everybody and got famous people to talk about stuff that the same people would sue other magazines for printing.

Playboy had articles and investigative reporting and travelogues and a common sense Advisor and they still have all those things. But I have to admit, right here in the open, that the nude pics are getting boring for me. They’re all the same! Every woman in Playboy, every woman, has a perfect tan, clear skin, fluorescent white teeth, perfect nails, and the same exact racing strip pubic hair. It’s like masturbating to a Barbie.

I don’t think I’ve opened the centerfold in over a year. There’s no point. I’ve seen it.

Playboy hasn’t always been like this and I blame it on two things: the Internet and Viagra.

The Internet Porn Explosion caught everyone in the adult industry off guard. Suddenly seeing real live girls bareass was easy, almost unavoidable. How do you compete when nudity is all around you?

If you’re Hustler, you get even wilder, more explicit, more shocking online. If you’re Penthouse, you go bankrupt. And if you’re Playboy, you make your models more incredible, more glorious than any mere webcam girl could ever be. Thanks to a combination of the world’s best photographers and some skilled computer artists, they’ve done that. Playmates are now so unblemished and unattainable that, for me anyway, they’ve become sexless.

But I think Viagra was what dealt the chilling stroke to Playboy. I don’t have the energy to go retrieve my back issues from where my teenage son has hidden them, but I’ll bet that Hef’s Viagra usage can be charted by reading the first few pages of every Playboy for the last five years. Doesn’t it seem obvious to you that he started getting laid again and suddenly we got ridiculously perfect centerfolds, along with page after page of his partying? I think it’s clear that Hef’s back in control and I’m glad for him, but I’d appreciate it if he didn’t use our magazine for his mid-life crisis.

So happy birthday Hef, thanks for all you’ve done for us and sexuality in general, and please, go get your horde of girlfriends and a bucket of little blue pills and disappear for awhile. Let Christie run things again. I respect you as I respect few people, but it’s getting embarrassing. Let us have our girl next door again, and leave Photoshop turned off. Stop bragging about your parties and famous friends every single issue. And when you do the annual “Sex in Cinema,” try not to have every other movie mentioned be a Playboy TV original. It looks really cheesy and self-serving. Just a thought.

Oh, and get some new jokes. It’s really annoying for us long-time readers when we recognize the same jokes we remember from just eight or nine years ago.

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