‘Playgirl’ Plays For The Gays

Playgirl first premiered way back in 1973, four years after the Stonewall rebellion, and marketed itself as the female equivalent of the similarly named Playboy.

In fact, the mag’s tagline even declared Playgirl “the magazine for women”.

Despite the publication’s pronouncements, gay men consistently dominated the demographic.

Now, countless penises later, the magazine’s finally courting its queer contingent. Virtually, at least.

One can’t help but wonder why it took Playgirl so long to embrace their male demographic, which accounts for 60% of the title’s readership and 65% of online subscribers. As this abridged time line shows, the title has a rich homo history. 1978 Centerfold Brian Dawson won a 1989 leather competition. 30th anniversary hunk Scott Merritt came out in a 2003 Advocate interview, while February of 1979’s David Grant paid the bills as gay porn star Clay Russell.

Playgirl TV director and producer Danny McKaren offered his take on the company’s apparent closet:

We were never really in the closet, but I think the media perception has been that we were in denial of our gay audience. It is really the opposite. I think the difference from previous years is that this year we are actively reaching out to our gay audience. The re-launch of the website in late 2006 has really given us the ability to do that in a big way.

Yes, the big gay change began in late 2006, when Playgirl TV partnered with gay porn production houses like Naked Sword, with whom they share revenue. The multimedia company later signed a licensing deal with Village Lighthouse, which churns out the magazine’s greeting cards and calendar. Playgirl’s gay flirtations don’t end with silly old greeting cards, of course. The company also enlisted party maker Daniel Nardicio, who travels across the United State promoting the brand at gay bars and clubs. A bevy of porn stars from Colt, Titan and Lucas Entertainment have all signed on to help Playgirl stretch its homo influence. The company also has plans for some special gay-targeted issues, like the uninspired “Straight Guys For Gay Eyes,” which features content from graying lothario Jake Cruise’s porn website, as well as some footage from Playgirl’s own online digs. It’s in that virtual space – Playgirl TV, which remains the epicenter of the company’s faggotry.

Marketing director Amy K, who asked that we not print her last name, insists that the website holds the most potential:

Of course, it is a delicate balance to keep both the ladies and the men happy. We’ve gotten a lot of great positive feedback from our female members, especially when they see guys finger their assholes. It sends them over the edge!

That’s not the greatest mental picture, but we get the idea: ladies like gayish action online. The monthly, meanwhile, remains committed to satisfying the straight girl’s fantasy. Says the mono-monikered Amy, “Playgirl‘s formula will generally remain the same with its original soft core male erotica with a female slant. You can’t tinker with success.” Nor can the success off-set scandal.

Porn star and Playgirl model Ben Andrews grabbed virtual ink this month when he described his perfect woman, “I’m really turned on by confident women. And women with a sense of humor”. The well-endowed actor’s MySpace page labels him as straight. We asked marketing director Amy whether the magazine had any comment on this slip and here’s what she had to say, “That’s been the formula for the magazine interviews for years. I’d guess Ben and the boys were just being ironic… I mean, c’mon, they were on Fire Island.” She followed this up with an emoticon wink, which seems emblematic of Playgirl‘s entire history.

Despite its pull for the pink dollar, however, Playgirl will not be producing explicitly gay content, says McKaren: …At this time we are not producing gay content for the site, magazine or TV, [but] who knows what the future holds”. We’re pretty sure it involves penises and the gay men who love them. Whether we gays will fully infiltrate Playgirl‘s official ranks remains to be seen.

This, of course, begs the question: will Playgirl‘s middle-of-the-road approach woo the gays? Numbers from the last year show a slight shift, but no where near the volume exhibited in some exclusively gay sites. So, what does this mean for Playgirl‘s gay ambitions? They may need to add a dash of fagginess, two drops of homo-essence and a few more pounds of meat. Pounded meat, of course.

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  • Chrissie Chang

    I wonder why Playboy has never been big with lesbians.

  • afrolito

    I’ve never known a gay guy who was remotely interested in Playgirl. There a a million gay mags with hotter guys, and explicitly gay content, without the presence of women to kill the wood.

    I’ll stick with Inches.

  • Matthew Ehrlich

    Playboy has never been big with lesbians for the same reason Playgirl has never been big with straight women: women just aren’t into porn.

    I was into Playgirl when I was a teen simply because I had no access to gay porn (this was before the internet). The only chance I had to see naked guys (I didn’t do sports) was to steal playgirls from the local convenience store. It’s sad to think about….

  • GranDiva

    Ah, yes, the old-school Playgirl theft…

    Good times. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the newsstand I would most frequently hit was around the corner from a cruisy men’s room. Talk about ramping up in my teen years…

  • dvlaries

    Playgirl was a help in the 70s for a while, but once Honcho was on its feet by 1978, Playgirl became increasingly passe. After his post-gunshot, born again stance, Larry Flynt began showing male & female nudes in Hustler starting in 1978, and it must be acknowledged that Flynt’s publication was boldly showing naked men with rock-hard erections even before Honcho got nervy enough to show penises pointing skyward.

  • ProfessorVP

    It’s just anecdotal, but as a young boy I knew a young lesbian couple who always had a fresh copy of Playboy whenever it came out.

    Don’t believe any 60/40 ratio about Playgirl’s subscribers. It’s likely more like 90%. Women don’t get off on porn to the extent men do. Certainly Playgirl knew who it’s core audience was from day one, and didn’t just discover it. I used to look at the very first issues of Playgirl- that’s how old I am. And I knew, not only from the pictures, but from the articles, that it wasn’t aimed at women.

  • EdWoody

    You typo’d again – Ben’s MySpace page says he’s gay, not straight. As was the subject of the whole recent discussion.

  • Allen

    I’ve been working in a gay porn shop for almost seven years. I have noticed a big increase w/ the lesbians buying lesbian (more aimed towards hetero males) porn & bi porn.

    Hell, if we sold Playboy, I know that we would sell out every time.

  • hells kitchen guy

    Until recent years, the guys in Playgirl were way hotter than the gay porn titles like Blueboy. I still like the “action” sequences, where the woman inevitably leaves on her garter and stockings and the guy is completely naked. Don’t know why, but it turns me on. (Yikes, am I a closet straight?!?)

  • Christie

    I wouldn’t say women are not as into porn as men. I just think a lot of us are too scared to admit we like it. Being a 23 yr. old virgin makes it hard to fantasize, so I need a little encouragement. I like men and women so my small collection is probably 50% men 50% women.

  • guydads

    Back in the 80’s when I was married and deep in the closet, I would buy a Playgirl subscription for my wife. Hmmm, I don’t think she looked at it more than a couple times. And there was always a stack under my side of the bed.

  • lake

    The gay magazine Genre had a playgirl cover model on their cover and people got so angry. Gay audience for both magazines? Is one’s hard-on any different?

  • mike

    some time ago i worked as a set / wardrobe stylist for playgirl & funny enough they hired gay male photographers & had them use female names as credits , funny right ! .

  • dizzyspins

    This is a huge load of BS. Playgirl has always pretended its audience is women, because thats how they can get on the back shelves of newstands in middle America. Also, the publishers dont want what few female readers they have thinking theyre sharing it with “fags.”

    Why do you think Playgirl is getting more queer-friendly on its website but not in print? Because the assumption is that only the homos are online–the overtanned divorcees with french manicures will never find out.

    Playgirl served a purpose for those of us who lived in suburbia (it was at my local Waldenbooks–unlike Honcho and Inches) and i think its kind of ironic and fun how its all wink-wink “for the ladies.” But lets not pretend any walls are coming down.

  • ProfessorVP

    Precisely. Dizzy’s comment on the mark, not dizzy.

  • james

    Love to meet some real hunks.
    Waitng James

  • Mayla Jaime

    your site is shit fuck you homo

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