Playgirl relaunched — and its first edition sold out
Playgirl returned to newsstands last month and like the original that debuted in 1973, it quickly sold out.
Like the first edition — founded by LA nightclub owner Douglas Lambert with Marin Scott Milan helming editorial — the current incarnation is also a man/woman tag-team. It’s now owned by Jack Lanley-Kuhns, who two years ago tapped Skye Parrott, former co-founder of the art and fashion magazine Dossier, to be editor-in-chief of the relaunch.
Yes, nudie man pics are still involved. But Parrott says she’s attempting to capture the enlightened feminist appeal of the mags early years, which boasted writers like Maya Angelou to Gloria Steinem, and not the porn mag for gay men it became when it folded in 2015.
And unlike the original 1973 issue, there’s not a man in sight on the cover.
For her debut issue, Parrott relied instead on a a nude and very pregnant Chloe Sevigny know for a string of cutting edge films, picking up an Academy Award nomination for the “Boys Don’t Cry,” and portraying Niclotte Grant for five years on the HBO series “Big Love.”
At the top it reads: “We’ll take it from here.”
The photo is captivating not for its nudity — a nod to Tina Brown’s famous 1991 Vanity Fair cover that featured a nude and pregnant Demi Moore — but for the actress’s apparent lack of airbrushing and stylizing.
“We wanted a more honest and female gaze,” said Parrott, who snagged Italian photographer Mario Sorrenti to do the shoot. “It seemed like a much less sexual and much more human way to look at the female body,” said Parrott.
And while Parrott admits there were hair and make-up stylists on board for the mid-March shoot, which took place right before coronavirus lockdowns shuttered New York City, she says the idea was to keep the image deliberately minimalist.
“It was a deliberate all-natural look. We wanted to focus on the human side rather than photograph her with a lot of layers between her and the camera.”
There are other differences.
The new Playgirl, born in an age when cats posts compete with in-depth magazine reporting, debuted with fewer than 10,000 copies in major US cities and London before selling out and going back to press. By contrast the original Playgirl at its peak in the mid-to-late 70s had been selling 1.5 million copies.
The new version also costs a lot more at $20 a pop. The first edition was priced to sell at $1 a copy, or $8 for a year’s subscription.
But while Parrott’s edition still contains a portfolio of a dozen nude male images shot by Harley Weir, it also includes personal essays and art, including an piece written by New York Times bestselling author Carvell Wallace that starts off: “Good f***ing riddance to the patriarchy.”
“It is not anything like the pornographic Playgirl that died in 2015,” said Samir Husni, founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism/ “This Playgirl feels more like a nice coffee table book with nude pictures and great articles.”
The article on Sevigny is mostly a pictorial, wrapping in about a dozen artsy photos of the actress by Sorrenti in her eighth month of pregnancy. It comes with a few graphs of text by Amanda Fortini, who notes that Sevigny became pregnant at age 45, making her and her boyfriend Sinsa Mackovic instant fodder for the paparazzi because she had once famously said that she owed her youthful skin to “not having had a baby.”
The new owner, Lanley-Kuhns, is a 31-year-old great grandson of Eugene Meyer, who bought the Washington Post in 1933 and whose family owned it until the Grahams sold it Jeff Bezos.
Despite coming from publishing royalty, his new company, Girly Space, marks the first time he’s dabbled in the publishing world. He picked up the brand in 2015 for a song after the last edition shut down before tapping Parrott— who at the time was splitting her time between Mexico and Brooklyn — as the editor.
“We’re looking at all aspects of a women’s life,” said Parrott, who dropped out of college and spent six years living and working in Paris which she said greatly influenced her fashion outlook. Her mission for Playgirl she said is “looking at female power in a different way. It’s the idea of entertainment for women with a broad lens, looking at sex, gender, politics, culture, art, literature, relationships–looking at all the things that make life fun.”
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