The man responsible for promoting Playgirl's Levi Johnston shoot recently said the magazine became irrelevant because "the women working on it weren't keeping up with the times" and didn't cater to its not-so-secret gay audience. One ex-staffer begs to differ.
In a recent Daily Beast interview, ex-party promoter Daniel Nardicio said reinventing Playgirl was like working on "the Coca-Cola of porn." Why did the magazine lose its way? "They didn't admit that there were a lot of gay men reading the magazine and gay men don't want to see guys with flowing long locks looking like they came from the cover of a Danielle Steel novel," he told The Daily Beast's Jacob Bernstein.
But former Playgirl managing editor Jessanne Collins, writing at the Awl, disputes that version of history. She says the magazine was staffed by young women who weren't particularly drawn to Fabio types, but who were under the thumb of the magazine's ownership—whose stable included titles like Purely 18 and Finally Legal. And they had their own ideas about what was sexy:
The men in the boardroom had no idea how to market or appeal to either women or gay men-never mind to both at the same time, an unattainable magic act, in my opinion, but one the company insisted on attempting for years. The tragicomedy of Playgirl's particular aesthetic failure starts to make a lot of sense if you consider that it wasn't constructed by anyone who professed actual physical interest in the male physique. If would-be Fabios were standard, that's because "musclebound with a ridiculous mane" is a comfortable caricature of what women find sexually attractive as doodled in the minds of out-of-touch old dudes.
The Internet may have helped kill Playgirl's regular print edition, but it's also brought both women and gay men choices of titillation that don't have to be cleared with any boardroom. And it's brought us this, for anyone who wants all of that and Levi at the same time.
Related: Can Levi Johnson Save Playgirl? [The Daily Beast]
Fantasy Levi Johnston Playgirl Covers [BWE]