Playboy simply cannot compete in the world of contemporary porn because its pin-up style pictures look boring, bland and, yes, antiquated, next to the hard-core and cruel images that are now mainstream on the internet. Ironically, it was in that Playboy came up against its first real competitor, Penthouse, and in the struggle it learned lessons that help explain why it has been forced to rebrand today. Also opposed to Playboy were feminists, who saw the images as sexist and degrading, and organized numerous protests against the magazine. Penthouse, on the other hand, positioned itself between soft-core Playboy and increasingly hard-core Hustler — not the best move from a competitive standpoint. Playboy is a combination of sex … and status … the sex actually includes not only the Playmate and the cartoons and the jokes which describe boy-girl situations, but goes right down in all the service features. In the first issue of Playboy, Hefner told his readers: We like our apartment. Playboy bunnies are apparently out of fashion.
Audrey. Age: 28.
To keep its image as a magazine for the well-heeled male, Playboy needs to continue to wrap itself in upper-class trappings, but were it to compete with mainstream internet porn, every advertiser would flee.
Zelda. Age: 25.
We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors-d'oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, Jazz, Sex. Ironically, 20 years later this is exactly where Playboy now finds itself, in a world where internet porn has become far more violent and abusive than Penthouse and even Hustler. That little-known company has played a dramatic role in reshaping the entire business strategy of porn for the internet age. The articles, interviews and stories were needed as a cover during the early days of Playboy because porn use was stigmatized as low-class.