Playboy is pulling the plug on the print edition of the once-risque magazine — coveted by roughly half the population for its glamorous photos of nude women and even some of its articles — citing the novel coronavirus as hastening the decision.
The company has been mulling an end to the magazine for awhile, but the decision came more quickly "as the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic to content production and the supply chain became clearer and clearer," Ben Kohn, CEO of Playboy Enterprises, wrote in a Medium post on Wednesday. "We were forced to accelerate a conversation we've been having internally: The question of how to transform our U.S. print product to better suit what consumers want today."
Playboy magazine was first published in December of 1953 by Hugh Hefner, who put Marilyn Monroe on the cover. The rest was history, emphasis "his": Hefner transformed his magazine idea into a media and entertainment-industry giant and achieved pop culture-level celebrity status, dating multiple attractive and far younger females well into his 80s. Inseparable from the Playboy brand, Hefner died at 91 in 2017.
Playboy's Spring 2020 issue, which is hitting U.S. newsstands and as a digital download this week, will be the magazine's last in paper format, other than an occasional special edition, with the company moving all other content online, including its playmate pictorials, Kohn said.
"Throughout the past sixty-six years, one thing has remained constant: our commitment to free expression and breaking taboos, leaning into discomfort, helping audiences express and understand their sexuality, and advocating for the pursuit of pleasure for all," noted Kohn in writing an obituary of sorts for the publication.
Hefner's family no longer has ties to the company, with private-equity firm Rizvi Traverse the majority owner with a stake valued at $35 million several years back. The company operates largely as an international licensing business for the Playboy name and bunny-ear logo on clothes, perfumes and more.