Rabbit decline

Hard times, as it were, for Hugh Hefner:

Certainly there is an irony that while pornography is now more plentiful than ever in world history, the rise of the Internet has destroyed Playboy’s profitability. The company lost $48.5 million last year. Hefner recently took Playboy Enterprises off the stock market, offering $6.15 a share for outstanding shares. Exactly what he’ll do with the Playboy “brand” (it’s not just a magazine) remains to be seen. Hef has recently gone back to the idea of “Playboy Clubs,” opening one in Vegas and announcing two others in Sydney and London. But these are not really “clubs,” just Playboy-themed casino/bar/restaurants, a sort of chain operation like the Hard Rock Cafe.

The not-so-big bucks these days come from playboy.com, which has a fairly active pay section — there’s also a Somewhat Safe For Work site which scares up some ad dollars — and from licensing the Rabbit Head symbol, which still has some commercial value. Still:

The value of the Playboy brand isn’t likely long to outlive the man who created the myth on which the brand depends, and of which he is the absurd elderly symbol.

There is, I think, one other contributing factor: Adobe. With Photoshop on every other desktop on the planet, nobody has any faith in anybody’s photographs anymore. The “girl next door” in the centerfold? Not next door to me, you damn betcha. There isn’t a wisp of hair out of place, and often as not there isn’t a wisp of hair in place, so to speak. Furthermore, they’re all apparently nineteen years old these days, and to get me to take up with someone one-third my age would require a hell of a lot of tequila and probably something more.

And anyway, it’s not like Hef and I have similar tastes.



  1. Tam »

    12 April 2011 · 8:42 am

    I find it odd that, in a world where you can get hot & cold running smut beamed from space through your phone for free, anybody actually buys pictures of nekkid people drawn on the pulped corpses of trees. It seems so… quaint.

  2. Baby M »

    12 April 2011 · 8:53 am

    I’m partial to the pre-Hefner type of Playboy myself:


  3. McGehee »

    12 April 2011 · 10:03 am


    Woody Allen was ahead of his time even before he slept his way into the future.

  4. EllenSmith »

    12 April 2011 · 2:14 pm

    The list is incredible. Why did it just start in the 80s?

  5. CGHill »

    12 April 2011 · 5:14 pm

    It begins with when I started reading the magazine.

  6. Lisa Paul »

    12 April 2011 · 5:32 pm

    At last, someone has gone down the rabbit hole to get to the bottom of the long, slow demise of the Bunny Empire. I guess it was inevitable it would be you.

  7. EllenSmith »

    12 April 2011 · 5:47 pm

    I guess I could have done that with House Beautiful but it’s not really the same thing.

  8. Brett »

    12 April 2011 · 11:06 pm

    Aw, couldn’t happen to a nicer withered old creep…

  9. EllenSmith »

    13 April 2011 · 11:07 am

    Thanks Brett. I have kind of let myself go, just wasn’t aware it was
    so noticeable. However, I prefer to think of the withering as wrinkling
    and just accept gracefully the denouement, as it were. I appreciate
    your honesty and thank you again. And, frankly, it takes a certain amount of bravery to come out and say what others must be thinking too.
    So thanks.

  10. Brett »

    13 April 2011 · 11:36 am

    The perils of comment placement! I was of course referring to Mr. Hefner, which I’m pretty sure you know and are teasing me, but in the murky world of online commentary one should always be clear and I hereby correct my unclarity ;-)

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