(Source: Dollar Photo Club)

(Source: Dollar Photo Club)

I’ve gotten plenty of text messages and read a lot of reaction since Playboy, the outlet synonymous with porn, announced that it would stop publishing photos of nude women in its magazine. Real life is finally imitating the old joke: Subscribers are now, in fact, only reading it for the articles.

There are a lot of people saying it’s a good thing. In fact, if you struggle with porn you may be one of those people. One less outlet out there to be a trigger.

But here’s the thing: If you struggle with porn, I don’t think you should be celebrating. Playboy is about to become much more popular.


Playboy is about to become much more popular.


Start by looking at the reason Playboy gave for the decision. “That battle has been fought and won,” Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive, told the New York Times. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

Playboy admits print defeat. But not because porn is decreasing in popularity. It’s the opposite: Porn is now so popular, so accessible, and frankly so graphic, that a few still shots of naked women on some glossy pages is like eating year-old beef jerky when you know you can get a steak any time. (And that’s really what porn is: treating another human being like a piece of meat meant to satisfy a craving.)

Just look at how Jack Moore, an admitted porn fan, over at GQ celebrated the move: “[W]e live in a world where all the world’s porn is like three mouse clicks away, and most of it is totally free. In a world like that, Playboy is redundant at best and embarrassing at worst.”

To Moore and other porn advocates, Playboy’s move is good in the way that sports fans treat the perennial losing team that finally gets kicked out of the league: They may have been relevant in the past, but the industry has moved forward, it’s time to move on, and frankly they’re just diluting the product. Bless their heart.

Sure, in its prime, Playboy had 5.6 million subscribers. That number, according to the Times, now sits at about 800,000. They were giving porn a bad name, in essence.

But here’s the thing: With no nudes, the magazine actually becomes relevant again. Think about it. Playboy will now move from behind the conspicuously-placed cardboard shield and join the other less-stigmatized magazines. The brand, still synonymous with porn, will now be more front-and-center. Yeah, maybe there aren’t any fully nude women, but the magazine doesn’t have to be relegated to the back shelf.


Playboy will now move from behind the conspicuously-placed cardboard shield and join the other less-stigmatized magazines.


It’s actually brilliant from a business perspective if you think about it. If I’m a drug dealer, there are three easy ways to get more people hooked on my product: 1) get rid of the stigma associated with it and make it cool; 2) dilute it to a level that still makes it craveable; and/or 3) introduce a gateway drug that sets people on the path to the moneymaker substance.

That’s what Playboy is doing. They’ve already ceded the win to Internet porn. Playboy the magazine can now secure (even more) mainstream figures for their articles (making it cool); it now becomes “porn lite” — no full nudes, but enough to cause the craving; and it funnels you to where the real money is: Internet porn.

(And guess what: You don’t have to be a stuffy religious type to understand that Internet porn is bad for society and has unhealthy side effects. Hollywood star Russell Brand even gets that:)

Still, I don’t want to completely dismiss those who do see some good in Playboy’s move. But I just can’t shake the fact that this isn’t so much a step in the right direction as it is a sneaky way to make the porn world relevant. And now Playboy is positioned as the perfect introduction to that world. A world that many know is empty, broken, and in the end unfulfilling.

Keep your guard up.


Wondering what a former call girl has to say about finding purpose? Watch Annie Lobert’s story.