Playboy will stop publishing photos of nude women - 62 years after Marilyn Monroe stripped off for the first issue

Playboy magazine has said that it will no longer include nude photos of women beginning with its March 2016 issue. Above left, founder Hugh Hefner poses with the first issue, which featured Marilyn Monroe
  • Playboy says it will stop nude photos beginning with its March 2016 issue 
  • Executives at the magazine say they have not decided on fate of centerfold 
  • The magazine has been published for more than 60 years, debuting in 1953
  • First issue featured Marilyn Monroe naked, with subsequent decades seeing celebrities and famous models strip down for the magazine
  • Move away from nudes comes as Playboy focuses on its other content 

Famed men's magazine Playboy has said that it will stop featuring naked photos of women, ending a part of American culture that has become ingrained over its more than 60 years of publication.

First reported in The New York Times, the decision is a major shift for a name that became synonymous with nudity after challenging and ultimately changing the sexual mores of the 20th century US.

First published in 1953, the magazine became internationally recognized for spreads of models and celebrities in the buff, but will ditch its raciest photos starting next March.

Playboy magazine has said that it will no longer include nude photos of women beginning with its March 2016 issue. Above left, founder Hugh Hefner poses with the first issue, which featured Marilyn Monroe

First edition and first stop on the route to fame: Marilyn Monroe appeared on the very first cover of Playboy (left) in December 1953. The magazine grew in notoriety over the years and for some like Anna Nicole Smith, an appearance on the front cover shot them to fame 

Wild but respectable: During her hard-partying years in the 1990s, actress Drew Barrymore graced the cover of Playboy, while Mariah Carey also took the plunge

Hugh Hefner, now 89 years old, founded the magazine after working for Esquire and put out the first issue in December 1953 with a clothed Marilyn Monroe on the cover.

Author Dian Hanson, who wrote a history of men's magazines, told the Times that as it expanded, Playboy 'just revolutionized the whole direction of how we live, of our lifestyles and the kind of sex you might have in America'.

Reports of the change have been met with recollections of teenage boys poring over a smuggled copy of Playboy in secret in decades past, an anecdote often used about the magazine.

The publication's arrival accompanied the sexual revolution in 1960s America,  with Playboy's racy content butting up against more traditional values and the company saying that they had to sue the Post Office to win second-class mailing privileges.

It has also come up against those who say the magazine treats women as sexual objects,a criticism that has consistently been leveled at Playboy as it expanded beyond the magazine into more hardcore content.

Popular culture: Baywatch's Pamela Anderson made many famous appearances on the cover of the magazine while Marge Simpson's unveiling was reported across mainstream news, such was its impact 

Above, Darine Stern, who in 1971 became the first black woman to have a solo coverCelebrities such as Madonna used the magazine for publicity after it became an established part of American culture

Celebrities such as Madonna (right) used the magazine for publicity after it became an established part of American culture. Above left, Darine Stern, who in 1971 became the first black woman to have a solo cover

One author said that Playboy 'revolutionized the whole direction of how we live, of our lifestyles and the kind of sex you might have in America'. Above, a reader looks at the first issue of Playboy

One author said that Playboy 'revolutionized the whole direction of how we live, of our lifestyles and the kind of sex you might have in America'. Above, a reader looks at the first issue of Playboy

Though it once enjoyed a circulation of more than 5million, the magazine has shrunk to less than one million copies. Above, Hefner poses with Playboy bunnies in 1964Beyond the magazine, the company has also become famous for parties at the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles. Above, a party in 2003

Though it once enjoyed a circulation of more than 5million, the magazine has shrunk to less than one million copies. Above, Hefner poses with Playboy bunnies in 1964 (left) and a party at the Playboy mansion (right)

Supermodels and wives: Cindy Crawford appeared on the front cover in 1996 while Hugh Hefner's third wife Crystal appeared in 2011 ahead of their wedding

Though it is now moving in a new direction, even early editions of Playboy featured content in addition to pictures of naked women. 

It has published notable interviews with figures such as writer Vladimir Nabokov and President Jimmy Carter, also publishing stories from well-known authors. 

However, the rise of Internet pornography has accompanied a decline in readership for Playboy, with a circulation of 5.6million shrinking to less than a million today.

'You're now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it's just passé at this juncture,' Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott Flanders told the Times.

Playboy's website got rid of nudity last August, and the company says that traffic quadrupled to 16million as a result.

The site, which still features articles such as 'Playmate Irinia Vornina Was Made To Wear Yoga Pants' under its 'Girls' section, has also seen the average age of its users drop from 47 to 30.

Hugh Hefner founded the magazine after working for Esquire, and still remains editor-in-chief at the age of 89. Above, a model poses at a Playboy casting in Paraguay

Hugh Hefner founded the magazine after working for Esquire, and still remains editor-in-chief at the age of 89. Above, a model poses at a Playboy casting in Paraguay

Hefner, who still personally selects all the nude spreads for the magazine, had not commented publicly on the change as of Monday night. Above, women at the Playboy mansion

Hefner, who still personally selects all the nude spreads for the magazine, had not commented publicly on the change as of Monday night. Above, women at the Playboy mansion

Last year Flanders told Entrepreneur.com predicted that nudity would eventually leave the magazine and said 'You could argue that nudity is a distraction for us and actually shrinks our audience rather than expands it'. 

Future versions of Playboy will still feature pictures of women in 'provocative poses', but not full nudity and it is not yet known whether it will keep publishing a centerfold. 

Hefner, who still personally selects all the nude spreads for the magazine, was not quoted in the Times piece and has not commented publicly on his Twitter account. 

While the company insists that its strategy is best for business, some at Playboy are waxing nostalgic about the magazine's past. 

'Don't get me wrong,' editor Cory Jones said of the decision to dispense with nudity, '12-year-old me is very disappointed in current me. But it's the right thing to do 

 
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By Mathias Dillion 10/13/2015 03:19:00
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