Magazines: Think Clean

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The dream extends to the magazine's editorial content, but there reality does intrude. Viet Nam has hardly ever been mentioned in its columns, but there have been eloquent pleas for abolishing the draft and capital punishment, and a defense of the right to privacy by Senator Edward Long. Long, long question-and-answer interviews, some of them aggressive and stimulating, lately recorded the views of Fidel Castro, Mark Lane and Norman Thomas—just the thing to read aloud to a date in front of the fire, he wearing a Playboy sweater, she wearing Playmate perfume.

The magazine also has its own special crusades. It recently brought enough pressure to win a parole for a West Virginia disk jockey who was serving a one-to-ten-year sentence for a morals offense with a consenting teen-age girl. Another notable success involved a campaign against entrapment tactics practiced by—no, not the CIA but, of all agencies, the Post Office. Seems that postal inspectors were in the habit of placing an ad in a newspaper to the effect that one "swinger" would like to meet another. When letters were exchanged, the unsuspecting hedonist might include a nude photograph or two—whereupon the police arrived and arrested him.* Bowing to a Playboy-organized protest movement, as well as complaints from Congress, the Post Office promised to quit the practice.

Playboy has good reason to keep the mails safe for swingers, although the magazine itself has had little trouble with obscenity laws. Hefner was once arrested by the Chicago police after he ran some nude photos of Jayne Mansfield, but the case ended in a hung jury.

Girls con Brio. "Every issue of Playboy ," Hefner has said, "must be paced like a symphony." While there may be a scherzo of cartoons, a largo of literature, a rondo of reportage, the allegro in each addition is still the girls, and molto con brio. Although girl pictures take up less than 10% of the pages, they remain the main motif. The style for the centerfold Playmate was set by the maestro himself. He chose a rather average though well-endowed girl named Charlene Drain who worked in his subscription department. She said the department needed an Addressograph machine. Sure, said Hef, provided she would pose in the nude. She agreed, became "Janet Pilgrim" and appeared in the July 1955 issue. The circulation department got its machine, and "Janet" became, for a while, head of Playboy's readers' service department. She has since married and left for Texas, though she is still listed on the masthead.

Ever since, the magazine has tried hard to make its girls look ordinary in a wholesome sort of way—just like the Nude Next Door. The illusion is heightened by the fact that the girls are presented not only nude and in color but also in numerous black and white pictures in their natural habitat, whipping up a batch of muffins or playing the guitar. Suggestive poses are out, as are the accouterments of fetishism. None of the nudes ever looks as if she had just indulged in sex, or were about to.

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