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Martha Rosenberg: Posing for Playboy? Yawn

Posing for Playboy? Yawn

by Martha Rosenberg

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Pamela Anderson may have given Hugh Hefner a personal nude lap dance for his 82nd birthday at the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles in April--in front of his three girlfriends, no less--but actress Lindsay Lohan is less enamored with the patriarch of porn.

In September Lohan, twenty years younger than Anderson, said no to the offer of a nude Playboy magazine pictorial.

Of course it's possible Playboy's offer of $700,000 was just too low for Lohan like the joke in which a hooker, offended at a low offer, says "What do you think I am?" to the reply, "We've already established what you are; now we are establishing price."

After all, Lohan probably doesn’t get out of bed for less than $500,000.

But it's more likely that Lohan, like others born in the 1980s and 1990s, is ignorant of the Playboy mystique under whose shadow women lived in the 1960s and 1970s and not appropriately awed by the offer.

Why is this dirty old man--in a bathrobe no less, with a pipe--and his aged minion photographers stalking the nation for young hotties she might wonder. Why are they haunting college campuses, night clubs and rock concerts peopled with girls their daughters'--or granddaughters'--ages? Can anyone say sexual predator?

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What could photos in an aging men's magazine do for my career that an appearance on TMZ couldn't?

And what's up with all the snickering, winks and rabbit costumes before a simple booty call? Middle aged kink? Something weirder?

From its first 1953 issue with a nude Marilyn Monroe, through Bo Derek, Suzanne Somers, Farrah Fawcett, Jenny McCarthy Cindy Crawford, Pam Anderson, Daryl Hannah and of course Anna Nicole Smith, Playboy magazine has collared some famous women.

But it was a non-posing woman, feminist leader Gloria Steinem, who cast Playboy founder Hugh Hefner as the nation's Pimp-in-Chief who commodified women as disposable sex objects and lifestyle ornaments in his magazine.

A characterization he embraces today with a harem of blond girlfriends sixty years his junior.

Steinem worked undercover as a bunny in a Playboy club in New York City in 1963 serving customers with the requisite back-arched, knees-bent "Bunny Dip" and donning a white tail and bunny ears. ("Always remember," said the job manual, "your proudest possession is your Bunny tail. You must make sure it is white and fluffy.") She wrote about her sexual tour of duty in Esquire magazine.

While some credit Playboy with helping the nation lose its whore/Madonna 1950s Puritanism--in which unwanted pregnancies ruined lives--and its joyless 1950s workaholism thanks to Hefner's leisure-and-recreational-drugs lifestyle, others say by elevating porn from its peep show context, it mainstreamed the sexual debasement of women.

They point to Playboy Enterprises CEO Christie Hefner, Hefner's daughter, as the ultimate casualty of its second class view of women; not pretty to enough to pose in the magazine but not worthy of Playboy stock either which dad unceremoniously bequeathed to his sons in 1997 even as Christie toiled away at the magazine. A hare not an heir.

But even before the Internet, the Playboy cachet was attenuating. Soft core "laddie" magazines, issues of Sports Illustrated and even Victoria's Secret catalogues stole its customers on one side--and newly available hard corn porn on cable stole them from the other. By the time the nation went online, it was Playboy who?

In fact Playboy stock has torpedoed so badly, many in Chicago are hoping tycoon Sam Zell who took the Chicago Tribune private last year will save Playboy as well and end the Wall Street agony.

In its day, accepting the X-rated altar call known as Posing For Playboy could change your life, career and fortunes forever. Sure it was a last bullet and you couldn't do it twice. (Unless you were Pam Anderson.)

Sure you could offend your parents, middle America and lose important endorsements like Suzanne Somers who lost her Ace Hardware account after appearing in Playboy.

Eventually you'd be forgiven like Michael Milken or Janet Jackson.

But today posing for Playboy is more likely to elicit the remark, "You mean they still publish Playboy?"

Nor does anyone "read it for the articles anymore."


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