Playboy magazine reverses position, brings back naked women

This image released by Playboy shows Playmate Elizabeth Elam on the cover of the March/April 2017 issue of the gentleman's magazine. Naked women are back in Playboy magazine, ending a year-old ban on the nudity that made the magazine famous. The about-face came Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, with the release of Playboy's March/April issue. (Gavin Bond/Playboy via AP)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Naked women are back in Playboy magazine, ending a year-old ban on the nudity that made the magazine famous.

Playboy celebrated the reversal on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #NakedIsNormal.

The about-face came Monday with the release of Playboy’s March-April issue. The 63-year-old magazine had banished naked women from its print edition because it felt the content had become passe in an era of online porn that is just a click away on personal computers and smartphones.

The decision to show less skin was made under the regime of Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott Flanders, who left the Los Angeles company last May to run eHealth Inc., a health insurance exchange.

Cooper Hefner, Playboy’s chief creative officer and the son of magazine founder Hugh Hefner, called the nudity ban a mistake Monday in a post on his Twitter account .

“Nudity was never the problem because nudity isn’t a problem,” Cooper Hefner wrote. “Today we’re taking our identity back and reclaiming who we are.”

Playboy declined further comment.

Magazine expert Samir Husni said the prohibition on nudity probably alienated far more readers than it attracted.

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“Playboy and the idea of non-nudity is sort of an oxymoron,” said Husni, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi. “They are always going to have the stereotype as a nude magazine.”

Now that nudity is back in its fold, Playboy is still going to have to figure out how to appeal to a younger audience that has grown up in a digitally driven age where nudity has become commonplace.

“The people who grew up with Playboy magazine are starting to fade away so they will have to figure out what the millennial generation wants in the 21st century if they are going to survive,” Husni said.

That challenge may fall largely on Cooper Hefner, 25, who replaced his 90-year-old father as Playboy’s chief creative officer last summer.

Playboy re-embraced nudity with an issue boasting several pictorial spreads of naked women, including Miss March, Elizabeth Elam, and Miss April, Nina Daniele. The issue also features an interview with actress Scarlett Johansson and pieces on actor Adam Scott and CNN host Van Jones for those who say they only read Playboy for the articles.

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