Playboy to Drop Nudity From Its Magazine

Climate of Magazine's Founding Bears 'Almost No Resemblance to Today'

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Credit: Jennifer S. Altman/Bloomberg News
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Playboy will stop running photographs of naked women in its print edition after more than six decades, the magazine said Tuesday.

Although it will continue to publish "sexy, seductive pictorials," as Playboy put it in a statement, the magazine will end more than six decades of full nudity when a redesign arrives with the March 2016 issue. It already eliminated nudity from Playboy.com last summer and licensed out operation of PlayboyPlus.com, where naked photos can be found.

Hugh Hefner founded Playboy in 1953 with a debut issue that included a naked centerfold of Marilyn Monroe. He expanded the centerfold from a two-page spread to a three-page fold-out in 1956. And its November 1972 issue sold over 7.2 million copies, the high-water mark for a single Playboy issue, according to the company.

But the print edition today attracts just a shadow of that circulation. It averaged 816,926 paid and verified copies in the first half of this year, down from more than 1 million in the period a year earlier, according to its filings with the Alliance for Audited Media. And nudity is less likely than ever to attract the audiences that advertisers covet: young adults, who are presented with an endless source of pornography in the internet.

Editors have not yet decided whether the magazine's fold-out centerfolds will remain in some non-nude form once the redesign arrives, according to a spokeswoman.

"The political and sexual climate of 1953, the year Hugh Hefner introduced Playboy to the world, bears almost no resemblance to today," Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott Flanders said in a statement. "We are more free to express ourselves politically, sexually and culturally today, and that's in large part thanks to Hef's heroic missoin to expand those freedoms. We will stay true to those core values with this new vision of Playboy's future."

News of the change was first reported by The New York Times.

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