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.