Discussion:
OT Health- (possicle Death-) Watch: Playboy magazine
(too old to reply)
That Derek
2020-03-19 19:58:45 UTC
Permalink
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/playboy-magazine-is-closing-down-probably-for-good.html

Playboy: 1953–2020

Mar. 18, 2020

Playboy Magazine Is Closing Down, Probably for Good

By Christopher Bonanos
@heybonanos

Playboy has announced that it’s closing down its flagship magazine for the rest of 2020. It seems unlikely, given the wording of the announcement and the state of print magazine-making, that it will ever return. It’s not a surprise, exactly — its circulation and advertising drooped long ago, accelerating as the nudie pictures for which it was celebrated became available everywhere for free. Hugh Marston Hefner, its founder/editor/latter-day reality-show star/loungewear enthusiast, died in 2017, as his faded empire contracted around him, and one got the sense that the magazine was kept going partly because nobody wanted Hef to outlive it.

Hard to imagine it now, but Playboy once felt forward-thinking and modern. Founded in 1953, it was a significant force in the loosening of anti-obscenity laws regarding the press. By the early 1960s, it was a huge success, soon expanding to open its namesake clubs all over the world. It also moved into TV with Playboy’s Penthouse (later Playboy After Dark), a late-night talk show of sorts starring Hefner and an array of celebrity guests. The magazine peaked in the early 1970s at a circulation, breathtaking to see now, of 5.6 million copies a month. The magazine’s licensing operation since then has put the signature rabbit logo on cocktail glasses, clothes, car accessories, and far more. Plus, of course, online porn.

Men (and some women) joked that they bought the magazine for the articles, even though the centerfold and its associated pictorials were, of course, the main draw. The articles were, indeed, pretty good, even if Playboy tended to pay extremely well for the second-tier writing of first-tier talents. (The Simpsons once showed a parody of the magazine, called “Playdude,” bearing the cover line UPDIKE ON THE MARTINI.) But that’s also a little unfair: Playboy published good work by Ursula K. Le Guin, Joyce Carol Oates, and James Baldwin. At that part of the craft of magazine-making, Playboy was often great. Its lifestyle coverage, all that cocktails-and-great-stereo-equipment stuff, could be delicious as well.

Of course, that was not its reason for being, and it’s hard to concoct a truly feminist case for Playboy.“The Playboy Philosophy,” a series of published musings by Hefner that broadly expressed his worldview, argued that the shaking-off of Puritan and Victorian prudishness was good for women, good for the world, and all-around great for our mental health. That his version of this liberation was mostly defined by men, highly objectifying, and fundamentally skewed in its power dynamics — the very epitome of the male gaze — well, Hef basically shrugged those thoughts off, saying that women should just step up and go toe-to-toe with men. Donald Trump, in 1990, smirked from its cover, featured in a story he of course loved. A generation later, a Playboy model, Karen McDougal, began an affair with him after a taping of The Apprentice that took place at the Playboy Mansion, and the cover-up of her payoffs semi-directly led to his impeachment. Playboy did, arguably, present women as desirous creatures, not just passive sexual objects, and it argued for legalized abortion and the destigmatization of sex work. But its cover, for 60 years, bore the words ENTERTAINMENT FOR MEN, and that’s mostly what it was.

Its latter days were, for the most part, not its best. Hefner’s daughter, Christie, took over in 1988, running the corporate end of the business for two decades and saving it from going broke. In the magazine itself, the 1990s and beyond brought unsettling degrees of airbrushing and surgical plumping to its golden-lit Playmates, who began to look like they had been molded out of some kind of creamy, poreless vinyl. A couple of tell-all books about the goings-on at Hefner’s Playboy Mansion left a sense that it was not a very happy place, and one where terrible things could happen. As the magazine became unsustainable in the 2010s, a brief attempt to gain new attention by eliminating its nude photography only accelerated the plunge; the full-frontal was brought back a year or so later, but that didn’t do much, although the photography got a lot better in this very last era. It was down to quarterly publication before today’s announcement.

Needless to say, Playboy, the brand, will continue. It’s a very big adult-entertainment business online. The magazine’s best standing feature, the Playboy Interview, remains pretty good, even in its seventh decade. (I recommend that you start with the one from February 1975, with Mel Brooks. According to the announcement, the Interview will continue to be published online.) And it remains a name and label that means something to a great many people, and that itself is worth money, because Playboy remains a huge licensing operation. Those spangled bunny baby tees, ubiquitous in Los Angeles boutiques, pay pretty well.
Terry del Fuego
2020-03-20 13:07:35 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, 19 Mar 2020 12:58:45 -0700 (PDT), That Derek
Post by That Derek
The magazine peaked in the early 1970s at a circulation,
breathtaking to see now, of 5.6 million copies a month.
Random question: Would a single printer be able to handle that or
would a project that large be farmed out to multiple plants,
presumably geographically closer to where their particular copies
would be sold?

I can't wrap my "mind" around 5.6 million copies x 100 (?) pages + all
the collating, stapling, etc.
RH Draney
2020-03-20 14:42:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Terry del Fuego
On Thu, 19 Mar 2020 12:58:45 -0700 (PDT), That Derek
Post by That Derek
The magazine peaked in the early 1970s at a circulation,
breathtaking to see now, of 5.6 million copies a month.
Random question: Would a single printer be able to handle that or
would a project that large be farmed out to multiple plants,
presumably geographically closer to where their particular copies
would be sold?
I can't wrap my "mind" around 5.6 million copies x 100 (?) pages + all
the collating, stapling, etc.
Multiple printers was the official explanation for the stars on the
cover (inside the vertical stroke of the letter P in the title); they
indicated which plant had printed that particular copy...this was
presented in response to a popular urban legend of the time that the
number of stars represented the number of times that Hef had slept with
that month's Playmate....r
Adam H. Kerman
2020-03-20 15:19:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by RH Draney
Post by Terry del Fuego
Post by That Derek
The magazine peaked in the early 1970s at a circulation,
breathtaking to see now, of 5.6 million copies a month.
Random question: Would a single printer be able to handle that or
would a project that large be farmed out to multiple plants,
presumably geographically closer to where their particular copies
would be sold?
I can't wrap my "mind" around 5.6 million copies x 100 (?) pages + all
the collating, stapling, etc.
Multiple printers was the official explanation for the stars on the
cover (inside the vertical stroke of the letter P in the title); they
indicated which plant had printed that particular copy...this was
presented in response to a popular urban legend of the time that the
number of stars represented the number of times that Hef had slept with
that month's Playmate....r
Hahahahahahahahahahahaha

I didn't pay attention to that. I only read it for the pictures, er, articles.

Sounds like my guess in the other followup was wrong.
Terry del Fuego
2020-03-20 16:17:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by RH Draney
Multiple printers was the official explanation for the stars on the
cover (inside the vertical stroke of the letter P in the title); they
indicated which plant had printed that particular copy...this was
presented in response to a popular urban legend of the time that the
number of stars represented the number of times that Hef had slept with
that month's Playmate....r
Thank you for that. After I posted the question I realized that I may
already have had the answer in my head based on how vinyl records were
produced: The majors had multiple plants in different parts of the
country and, as you mention about the magazine cover, often had subtle
ways of indicating where any given copy was pressed. Sometimes the
clues were on the labels, sometimes etched into the runouts. Even the
details of the typefaces used or text placement could be relevant.

(Wandering farther off-topic: I haven't learned of any copies of the
1973 soundtrack version of "Jesus Christ Superstar" containing a
wildly incorrect mix that weren't pressed at Pinckneyville.)
Adam H. Kerman
2020-03-20 15:17:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Terry del Fuego
Post by That Derek
The magazine peaked in the early 1970s at a circulation,
breathtaking to see now, of 5.6 million copies a month.
Random question: Would a single printer be able to handle that or
would a project that large be farmed out to multiple plants,
presumably geographically closer to where their particular copies
would be sold?
I can't wrap my "mind" around 5.6 million copies x 100 (?) pages + all
the collating, stapling, etc.
Sure. Commercial printing absolutely had production lines capable of
printing copies in the millions.

I have no idea how magazine printing and production worked at the time,
but the Sears Big Book catalog was printed at Lakeside Press of R.R.
Donnelley & Sons on supercalendered paper, although advertising catalogs
properly weren't on the highest supercalendered paper grade as
magazines were. Lakeside printed telephone directories for Illinois Bell
and the "Red Book" for Reuben H. Donnelley (Reuben was a son, if I recall,
and did the telephone directory classified advertising but wasn't the
first to color the classified advertising pages yellow), and those were
close to a thousand pages on newsprint. That was probably a regular
million copy print run of each of the three Chicago telephone
directories: white pages, consumer yellow pages, and business yellow
pages.

At the time, newspapers with significant circulation outside their
metropolitan area like New York Times and Wall Street Journal were flown
across the country for local distribution. Midwest and West Coast
editions came later.

My guess would be that Playboy's entire press run in the 1970s was
printed in Chicago. It wouldn't have been economical to pay the post
office for nationwide distribution from Chicago so it was probably
broken up into at least 30 points of mail distribution to be entered
around the country. I don't know where the major points of second class
mail distribution would have been at the time.
Congoleum Breckenridge
2020-03-21 00:16:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Terry del Fuego
Post by That Derek
The magazine peaked in the early 1970s at a circulation,
breathtaking to see now, of 5.6 million copies a month.
Random question: Would a single printer be able to handle that or
would a project that large be farmed out to multiple plants,
presumably geographically closer to where their particular copies
would be sold?
I can't wrap my "mind" around 5.6 million copies x 100 (?) pages + all
the collating, stapling, etc.
Sure. Commercial printing absolutely had production lines capable of
printing copies in the millions.
I have no idea how magazine printing and production worked at the time,
but the Sears Big Book catalog was printed at Lakeside Press of R.R.
Donnelley & Sons on supercalendered paper, although advertising catalogs
properly weren't on the highest supercalendered paper grade as
magazines were. Lakeside printed telephone directories for Illinois Bell
and the "Red Book" for Reuben H. Donnelley (Reuben was a son, if I recall,
and did the telephone directory classified advertising but wasn't the
first to color the classified advertising pages yellow), and those were
close to a thousand pages on newsprint. That was probably a regular
million copy print run of each of the three Chicago telephone
directories: white pages, consumer yellow pages, and business yellow
pages.
At the time, newspapers with significant circulation outside their
metropolitan area like New York Times and Wall Street Journal were flown
across the country for local distribution. Midwest and West Coast
editions came later.
My guess would be that Playboy's entire press run in the 1970s was
printed in Chicago. It wouldn't have been economical to pay the post
office for nationwide distribution from Chicago so it was probably
broken up into at least 30 points of mail distribution to be entered
around the country. I don't know where the major points of second class
mail distribution would have been at the time.
They used to print the Centerfolds at American Can Company, Neenah WI,
back in the 80's. It was a higher quality printing than rest of the
magazine.
A Friend
2020-03-21 02:17:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Congoleum Breckenridge
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Terry del Fuego
Post by That Derek
The magazine peaked in the early 1970s at a circulation,
breathtaking to see now, of 5.6 million copies a month.
Random question: Would a single printer be able to handle that or
would a project that large be farmed out to multiple plants,
presumably geographically closer to where their particular copies
would be sold?
I can't wrap my "mind" around 5.6 million copies x 100 (?) pages + all
the collating, stapling, etc.
Sure. Commercial printing absolutely had production lines capable of
printing copies in the millions.
I have no idea how magazine printing and production worked at the time,
but the Sears Big Book catalog was printed at Lakeside Press of R.R.
Donnelley & Sons on supercalendered paper, although advertising catalogs
properly weren't on the highest supercalendered paper grade as
magazines were. Lakeside printed telephone directories for Illinois Bell
and the "Red Book" for Reuben H. Donnelley (Reuben was a son, if I recall,
and did the telephone directory classified advertising but wasn't the
first to color the classified advertising pages yellow), and those were
close to a thousand pages on newsprint. That was probably a regular
million copy print run of each of the three Chicago telephone
directories: white pages, consumer yellow pages, and business yellow
pages.
At the time, newspapers with significant circulation outside their
metropolitan area like New York Times and Wall Street Journal were flown
across the country for local distribution. Midwest and West Coast
editions came later.
My guess would be that Playboy's entire press run in the 1970s was
printed in Chicago. It wouldn't have been economical to pay the post
office for nationwide distribution from Chicago so it was probably
broken up into at least 30 points of mail distribution to be entered
around the country. I don't know where the major points of second class
mail distribution would have been at the time.
They used to print the Centerfolds at American Can Company, Neenah WI,
back in the 80's. It was a higher quality printing than rest of the
magazine.
There were a lot of nice cans in the magazine back then.
Onlyne
2020-03-21 04:22:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by A Friend
Post by Congoleum Breckenridge
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by Terry del Fuego
Post by That Derek
The magazine peaked in the early 1970s at a circulation,
breathtaking to see now, of 5.6 million copies a month.
Random question: Would a single printer be able to handle that or
would a project that large be farmed out to multiple plants,
presumably geographically closer to where their particular copies
would be sold?
I can't wrap my "mind" around 5.6 million copies x 100 (?) pages + all
the collating, stapling, etc.
Sure. Commercial printing absolutely had production lines capable of
printing copies in the millions.
I have no idea how magazine printing and production worked at the time,
but the Sears Big Book catalog was printed at Lakeside Press of R.R.
Donnelley & Sons on supercalendered paper, although advertising catalogs
properly weren't on the highest supercalendered paper grade as
magazines were. Lakeside printed telephone directories for Illinois Bell
and the "Red Book" for Reuben H. Donnelley (Reuben was a son, if I recall,
and did the telephone directory classified advertising but wasn't the
first to color the classified advertising pages yellow), and those were
close to a thousand pages on newsprint. That was probably a regular
million copy print run of each of the three Chicago telephone
directories: white pages, consumer yellow pages, and business yellow
pages.
At the time, newspapers with significant circulation outside their
metropolitan area like New York Times and Wall Street Journal were flown
across the country for local distribution. Midwest and West Coast
editions came later.
My guess would be that Playboy's entire press run in the 1970s was
printed in Chicago. It wouldn't have been economical to pay the post
office for nationwide distribution from Chicago so it was probably
broken up into at least 30 points of mail distribution to be entered
around the country. I don't know where the major points of second class
mail distribution would have been at the time.
They used to print the Centerfolds at American Can Company, Neenah WI,
back in the 80's. It was a higher quality printing than rest of the
magazine.
There were a lot of nice cans in the magazine back then.
Oh, put a lid on it.
8***@comcast.net
2020-03-23 01:43:17 UTC
Permalink
I worked at W. F. Hall Printing in Chicago in the mid-sixties. Playboy was printed in the plant. The centerfolds were printed at Regensteiner (also in Chicago) and shipped to Hall for binding in the magazine. We also printed Esquire ( when it was still a tabloid) as well as Reader's Digest among many other magazines. Also printed the Warshawky Auto Parts catalog.
Adam H. Kerman
2020-03-23 02:02:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by 8***@comcast.net
I worked at W. F. Hall Printing in Chicago in the mid-sixties. Playboy
was printed in the plant. The centerfolds were printed at Regensteiner
(also in Chicago) and shipped to Hall for binding in the magazine. We
also printed Esquire ( when it was still a tabloid) as well as Reader's
Digest among many other magazines. Also printed the Warshawky Auto Parts
catalog.
Till two of you mentioned it, I didn't know the centerfold was printed
on another production line at another plant.
Rick B.
2020-03-23 03:42:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by 8***@comcast.net
I worked at W. F. Hall Printing in Chicago in the mid-sixties. Playboy
was printed in the plant. The centerfolds were printed at Regensteiner
(also in Chicago) and shipped to Hall for binding in the magazine.
Apparently by 1969 the centerfolds were being printed in Kingsport,
Tennessee. According to a UPI story that ran in the Indianapolis News on May
16 of that year, early that morning a tractor-trailer hauling uncut sheets of
foldouts from Kingsport to Chicgo was struck from behind in Columbus, Indiana
by a semi hauling light bulbs. The accident resulted in 5,000 to 6,000 sheets
of twelve centerfolds each, intended for the July issue, being scattered for
about 3/4 of a mile along a highway.

Louis Epstein
2020-03-23 02:41:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Terry del Fuego
On Thu, 19 Mar 2020 12:58:45 -0700 (PDT), That Derek
Post by That Derek
The magazine peaked in the early 1970s at a circulation,
breathtaking to see now, of 5.6 million copies a month.
Random question: Would a single printer be able to handle that or
would a project that large be farmed out to multiple plants,
presumably geographically closer to where their particular copies
would be sold?
I can't wrap my "mind" around 5.6 million copies x 100 (?) pages + all
the collating, stapling, etc.
I remember reading a National Geographic article about their
new gravure printing plant in Mississippi which I believe handled
8 million copies a month in the early 1980s.

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