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Playgirl magazine logo march 1977.svg
June 1973 cover (Issue 1, Number 1)
Editor in ChiefNicole Caldwell
CategoriesWomen's magazines
FrequencyMonthly (1973–2009)
Quarterly (2010–2016)
PublisherDouglas Lambert (1973–1976)
Ira Ritter (1977–1983)
First issueJune 1973
Final issueWinter 2016
CompanyMagna Publishing Group
CountryUnited States
Based inSanta Monica, California

Playgirl was an American magazine that featured general interest articles, lifestyle and celebrity news, in addition to nude or semi-nude men. In the 1970s and 1980s, the magazine printed monthly and was marketed mainly to women, although it had a significant gay male readership.[1]


The magazine was founded in 1973[2] by Douglas Lambert during the height of the feminist movement as a response to erotic men's magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse that featured similar photos of women. In 1977, Lambert sold Playgirl to Ira Ritter who took over as publisher. The magazine covered issues like abortion and equal rights, interspersed with sexy shots of men, and played a pivotal role in the sexual revolution for women.[3] From March 2009 to February 2010, Playgirl appeared only online. The magazine returned to print as a sometime quarterly beginning with its March 2010 issue. The final print issue was Winter 2016. As of 2016, the magazine was believed to have had only approximately 3,000 subscribers.[4]

The magazine was published by Drake Publishers, Inc. from 1986 until 1993 when Drake was merged into Crescent Publishing Group, Inc.[5][6] In August 2000, Crescent was charged by the Federal Trade Commission with over $180 million of online credit card fraud, much of which was alleged by the FTC to have taken place on the website.[7][8] In November 2001, for one of the then largest FTC settlements involving online credit card fraud, Crescent agreed to pay $30 million in refunds and to post a $2-million bond before it could continue to operate its websites. As a further condition for the settlement, Crescent principals Bruce A. Chew and David Bernstein were barred by the FTC from operating adult entertainment websites unless first posting bonds of $500,000 each.[9] In December 2001, Crescent Publishing Group, Inc. changed its name to Blue Horizon Media, Inc.[10] Following the FTC settlement, in 2003 then Crescent/Blue Horizon president Bruce Chew was indicted, along with alleged organized-crime figure Richard Martino and others on federal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, credit-card fraud and money laundering for illegally billing web users including for the Playgirl website.[11] Pursuant to a plea deal, Chew would later agree to testify for the government and against various of his co-defendants.[12]

In August 2008, the magazine announced that it would cease publication of its print edition as of the January 2009 issue. After that point, the magazine planned to continue with an online-only edition.[13] The last print issue was published in January/February 2009.[3]

In February 2010, Playgirl announced it would re-launch issuing a print edition of the magazine. The first such issue would be the March 2010 issue available on newsstands as of February 22, 2010 carrying on its cover Levi Johnston, shot by longtime Playgirl photographer Greg Weiner.[14] The magazine was issued approximately quarterly after that time.[15][4]

Playgirl was published by New York City–based company Blue Horizon Media, Inc. until April 25, 2011 when Blue Horizon sold the print rights for Playgirl together with those of its other titles – High Society, Cheri, Black Diamond, Finally Legal, and Purely 18 – to Magna Publishing Group, Inc. of Paramus, New Jersey.[16][17] The website is owned and operated by BAOL LLC.[18] In December 2015 Magna Publishing Group was acquired by 1-800-PHONESEX.[19]

Target markets[edit]

The magazine was mainly marketed to heterosexual women. Despite this, in 2003, Playgirl's then-editor-in-chief Michele Zipp admitted the magazine also attracted much gay readership. "It's 'Entertainment for Women' because there's no other magazine out there that caters to women in the way we do," she said. But she went on adding: "We love our gay readers as well, and the gay readership [of the magazine] is about 30%."[20] In the same year, Mark Graff, President of Trans Digital Media, the brand management firm for Playgirl TV, stated that a large percentage of Playgirl's readership are gay men.[21]


Throughout the history of the magazine, Playgirl has featured male frontal nudity except for the early issues in 1973, and 1987 when John Paul became the year's first full frontal centerfold in November after ten months of non-nude photo spreads. Apart from professional models, Playgirl features amateur models in a section called Real Men (formerly known as Snapshots). A Real Men of the Year contest is held, in which readers can vote for the best layout of the year. In June of every year, Playgirl has its "Man of the Year" issue. In July, it is the "Country" issue and in November, Playgirl dedicates an issue to "Campus Hunks."[citation needed]

In a 2000 paper published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, researchers examined 115 male centerfold models in Playgirl magazine from 1973 to 1997 and noted that the Playgirl centerfold models have become increasingly muscular over time.[22]

Other versions[edit]

Playgirl is available in English and has been published in a number of other languages and international English-language editions during its history:

  • Germany (1978–1980 and 1989–2003)
  • France (1978)
  • Australia (1985–88) and as Interlude in 1991
  • Netherlands (1987–88)
  • United Kingdom (1992–93, 2011)
  • South Africa (1995)
  • Brazil (1985)
  • Russia (2004–2009)

When the Russian version of Playgirl was launched in June 2004, it contained photographs of nude, circumcised American men despite circumcision's being less common outside the U.S., being practiced mainly by Muslims and Jews in Russia.[23]

Playgirl UK's brief 2011 relaunch was accompanied by an announcement that it would feature no below-the-waist nudity, and would focus on attractive male celebrities rather than models and pornography actors. It was a failure, and ceased circulation soon after it began.[citation needed]

A Spanish-language edition was published in 1992–1993.[citation needed]

Celebrity nudes[edit]

Playgirl has a monthly section entitled "Celeb Nudes" featuring photographs of various celebrities from film scenes, usually nude.

Since 2011[edit]

The Magna Publishing Group "secured the print rights" to Playgirl magazine in 2011.[24]

In 2015, Playgirl asked Miguel Pimentel, a "bulging New York City Sheriff's deputy", to pose nude and offered $10,000 to any one who could get frontal nudes of Anderson Cooper.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rettenmund, Matthew (2017-06-24). "The Rise and Fall of Playgirl". Esquire Magazine. Archived from the original on 27 June 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  2. ^ John David Ebert (2011). The New Media Invasion: Digital Technologies and the World They Unmake. McFarland. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-7864-8818-6. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Cara Buckley They couldn’t get past the ‘Mimbos’ Archived 2017-09-30 at the Wayback Machine The New York Times, November 14, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "How did 'Playgirl' magazine go from feminist force to flaccid failure?". 19 May 2016. Archived from the original on 26 July 2016.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Lori, Enos (24 August 2000). "U.S. Cracks Down on Net Porn Fraud". E-commerce Times. Archived from the original on 16 September 2016.
  8. ^ Playgirl Web Site Faces FTC Charges Archived 2008-10-08 at the Wayback Machine Federal Trade Commission, August 23, 2000.
  9. ^ Shiver, Jube (6 November 2001). "Porn Web Sites to Pay $30 Million in Refunds". LA Times. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Blue Horizon Media, Inc". Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Porn Sites Charged With $230 Million Scam". Wall Street Journal. 19 March 2003. Archived from the original on 16 March 2017.
  12. ^ Brunker, Mike (15 February 2005). "Alleged mobsters guilty in vast Net, phone fraud". NBC News. Archived from the original on 27 July 2016.
  13. ^ Rafat Ali, "Playboy Enterprises Shutting Down Playgirl Mag; Online Only" Archived 1 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine, CBS News, August 3, 2008.
  14. ^ David Caplan Finally! Levi Johnston's Playgirl cover revealed Archived 8 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine People magazine, February 8, 2010.
  15. ^ "Levi Johnston Bares All for Playgirl". CBS News. 9 February 2010. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016.
  16. ^ "Playgirl (Sold to Magna Publishing on April 25, 2011)". Investing Answers. 6 June 2013. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016.
  17. ^ Johnson, Bob (25 April 2011). "Magna Publishing Acquires Blue Horizon Titles, Internet Rights". XBIZ Newswire. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  18. ^ "Beautiful Men Since 1973".
  19. ^ "1-800-PHONESEX Acquires Leading New York-Based Adult Publisher". PR Newswire. 29 December 2015. Archived from the original on 11 March 2017.
  20. ^ Michael Rowe, "Great Scott: After years of struggling with his sexuality, Playgirl centerfold Scott Merritt is coming all the way out. To his surprise, so is Playgirl", Archived 2 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine The Advocate, issue 895, August 19, 2003.
  21. ^ R. Thomas Umstead, "A 'Playgirl' for Adult TV", Archived 10 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine Multichannel News, 17 November 2003.
  22. ^ Richard A. Leit, Harrison G. Pope, Jr. and James J. Gray, "Cultural expectations of muscularity in men: The evolution of Playgirl centerfolds," International Journal of Eating Disorders, Vol. 29, Issue 1 (December 19, 2000), pp. 90-93.
  23. ^ Carl Schreck, "Playgirl's men are a cut above," Archived 2016-05-13 at the Wayback Machine St. Petersburg Times, Issue 978 (46), June 18, 2004.
  24. ^ Bob Johnson,, Magna Publishing Acquires Blue Horizon Titles, Internet Rights Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine, April 25, 2011.
  25. ^ "Playgirl will pay big if hunky sheriff's deputy poses nude". NY Daily News. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]