points & future

Alfred Urrutia rampagingsloth@yahoo.com
Mon, 11 Nov 2002 10:24:11 -0800 (PST)

--- Peggy Wilkins <mozart@lib.uchicago.edu> wrote:

> the potential problem I see with this is that Playboy has already lost
> a lot of those "older" readers, for whatever reason.  (Actually, I
> think that would be a very interesting question to investigate.) 
> Past circulation figures (7 million at its height -- amazing!) speak
> to this; where did those readers go?  Does Playboy lose its impact for
> men as they age?  Would it really be feasible to put forth a
> concerted effort to get some of those readers back?  It also doesn't
> bode well for the future to cater to a bunch of older readers when
> Playboy's long term survival is dependent on getting new readers.
> The faithful oldies like us will steadily disappear; at the most
> extreme, we will eventually die.  They need to continually refresh
> their reader base, even if only at a slow pace, just to maintain
> current circulation.

There are two parts to this that must be considered - Is Playboy doing
the right thing (going after the right demographic) and, more for some
people who grew up with Playboy, does it matter if that right thing
ignores some of those older readers?  If Playboy is changed in order
to appease people who want it to be more satisfying to them and they
aren't the real target of Playboy (like it or not) then they are
asking for a new magazine.  Imagine back to when you first got into
Playboy and just when you were really starting to enjoy it and
appreciate it Hefner all of a sudden threw some demographic curveball
into it and it veered off into subjects and pictorials that you
couldn't give a shit about. That's what the above question is sort of
asking for now, for Playboy to change with its older audience,
forsaking the main audience it started aiming at.  I'd say that's one
thing that Playboy absolutely cannot do.  Even if it means I enjoy it
less because it's not really aimed at my tastes anymore, it must stay
consistent to what it's always been.  Now, if it fails at *that*, then
it needs a mechanic to come in and deal with the problems.

On the other hand, Hefner has aged along with his magazine.  Should the
emphasis be on the demographic or him?  If this is a magazine that's
supposed to please its creator then it probably must change, at least a
little, to address the changes in Hefner's life.  By doing that it will
sort of be aimed at the older readers, anyway.  We are dealing with a
magazine that has not gone through one complete cycle yet.  That cycle
being, of course, the end of Hefner's influence on the magazine. 
Either because he quits it or life quits him.  Not something enjoyable
to think about but *that* will be the crucial time to rethink and
possibly retool the magazine.  Since Hefner's wants will no longer be
in the equation.  I mean his initial, historical wants will be
well-known but no new changes will come from him.  Until then he will
drive the outlook and content of the magazine more than any of us.  If
it's successful, if it's what he wants, then we must be glad and accept
that even if we no longer connect with it.  I doubt that will happen to
me but I'm sure there are former subscribers out there who have no
interest in the magazine any longer.  More will unfortunately follow,

> However, I suspect that you and I are not the only readers who would
> like to see the occasional older woman featured!  I was quite
> impressed with the average age of the recent Women of Enron
> pictorial:
> most were over 30, some were near 40.  Of course they could go beyond
> that, and they occasionally do, though only very rarely.  I wonder if
> they know already what reaction these features get from most of their
> readers.  That's something else I'd really like to know!

Yes, I'm always interested in new pictorials of older Playmates.  If
they meet the Playboy standards, whatever they might specifically be. 
New pics of Luann Lee, Cindy Brooks, Lynne Austin, Karen Velez, etc. 
Older women in general, though, no.  That was never Playboy's true
approach.  Even if it was never stated, the "most beautiful girls" that
they were after were on the younger side.  Now, if they find a 40 year
old woman who is hotter than anything they've had in the last couple of
years, why not?  But not just for the novelty of having an older woman
in there.  That's what Over 40 and those other genre specific adult
mags are for.

> I am glad to see we are definitely on the same page here, cf my
> recent
> message on layout and design.  How do others feel about this?  More
> importantly, how do the editors feel about this?

This becomes a version of the other question, the direction of Playboy.
Does the definition of Playboy require that it constantly change or in
some other way avoid playing it safe?  Is being consistent "playing it
safe"?  Is changing layout for change's sake acceptable?  By that I
mean, if it sucked would you say "at least they're not playing it
safe", meaning you desire movement more than something that works,
however old or unchanged the current layout is?  Of course, if the
current layout doesn't work then the question is moot, it needs to be

One thing I run into all the time with my friends, having nothing to
do with Playboy, is this impatience with "playing it safe".  In music,
specifically.  They'd rather listen to the newest stuff, the ever
changing stuff, than the stuff that sounds best.  Whether that best
sounding stuff is new or old.  I take shit for listening to Zeppelin,
old Van Halen, Deep Purple, etc.  Dinosaur music.  I'm too set in my
ways.  Well, I say to them, show me some new rock that's as
good. Sure, there is some, but it's almost like they're more concerned
with the release date of the music than whether it's good or not.  I
ask them why they don't listen to 10 year old music, music that they
swore was "the best".  If it was that good, why not listen to it now?
No decent answer.

So, this question about layout and content *may* be a version of the
same deal, desiring changes just because you're used to what's
been. I'm not so sure that's reason enough.  If the layout and such
genuinely feels dated, like '80s Chrysler K-cars, then change it.  Fix
it.  But if it's old yet still alright, like an E-type Jaguar or a
Hemi 'Cuda, then who cares how long it's been that way, right?


"It was on the floor!"

- Lou2, on why he was unwilling to re-cram a rose into his
 ass for a second BA photo during Clu's wedding reception.

Alfred Urrutia                     rampagingsloth@yahoo.com