The Men of Playgirl

posted by Madame Bubby

Playgirl magazine, often billed unofficially as the “magazine for women and gay men,” has undergone some changes in its presentation through the years (one can no longer obtain the traditional hard copies that were usually hidden under some gayling’s bed at some point).

Even the naked guys in the magazine have changed, and that change reflects some social trends. What is interesting is that as recently as last week, on a gay chat board, Datalounge, the subject came up, and it wasn’t just a retro/nostalgia discussion from the eldergays.

The original poster made a point that the models in the 1970s and 1980s generally revealed huge bushes, and that they were trim and muscular overall, not what one might term “gym-pumped” or, to be biased, “steroid” bodies.

Now, the first Playgirl centerfold was Lyle Waggoner, who gained fame by appearing as a regular on the iconic Carol Burnett Show. For her sketches, Carol needed a straight guy, and I bet she also knew she would attract a certain audience (the Playgirl audience) by showing off his easy, unaffected, yet indisputably, studly presence. The first issues of Playgirl did not show cock, though. That came later, when the previous censorship of such materials was finally letting up in the early 1970s.
 

Lyle Waggoner in the first issue of Playgirl
Lyle Waggoner in the first issue of Playgirl

Lyle Waggoner in a later issue of Playgirl
Waggoner in a later issue

When Burt Reynolds died recently, many remembered his moment in Playgirl. Of course the photographers hid his member, but there was plenty to fantasize about even if was not visible. And hair, so much hair. The poster I referred to on Datalounge mentioned hairy bushes as if that was a style of the past, and that observation brings up the issue of shaving. How much hair is attractive? Or the lack thereof?
 

Burt Reynolds on the cover of Playgirl in December, 1974
Burt Reynolds on the cover of Playgirl in December, 1974

And note that many of the models, especially in the eighties, loved showing off their luxuriant locks. This hair was not hippie long hair that evoked Woodstock dancing and shabby communes in the woods; it was more like the idealized long hair of medieval knights and cavaliers and the like, heroes and antiheroes of romance novels.

But the long hair encouraged even more muscles, perhaps a reaction to possible associations with effeminacy in the more conservative eighties. Thus, tight pants, pastel colors, and long hair were acceptable if your body wasn’t just buff, but pumped up.

And in 1992, a pumped up, hard-bodied stud with a tattoo (harbinging what is now a rather generic look among millennials) named Dirk Shafer appeared as Playgirl’s Man of the Year. And he was gay. He didn’t come out as gay until much later, and he died in 2015.
 

Dirk Shafer as the Playgirl 1992 Man of the Year
Dirk Shafer as the 1992 Man of the Year

Another Playgirl model, Bill Cable aka Stoner, apparently appeared with Christina Crawford (!) in a mysterious video which has disappeared from youtube, alas. He also died young, kiiled in a motorbike accident in 1992.
 

Bill Cable aka Stoner
Bill Cable aka Stoner

Now that gay for pay is prominent in the adult erotic world, one might assume that some of the current models in Playgirl’s online edition are gay. And perhaps, depending on their situation, they aren’t concerned about concealing their orientation. Still, this open fluidity seems to produce rather generic results.

The secret thrill of an actual print magazine that enticed because of its very danger, dangerous imagery, a dangerous situation for the reader, is missing.

I am not advocating for the closet, but one wonders if it’s time for Playgirl to reexamine its purpose and not just serve an Instagram page in a larger format accompanied by tips on fitness. Remember, this magazine actually dared to in its earlier years explore female orgasms and polyamory and reveal men as sex subjects and objects for women and gay men.

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Some Famous Male Nudes

 

posted by Madame Bubby

Yes, nudes. Nudies. And not just Greek sculptures. (In fact, one might think Tumblr would not block these images. Hmm … )

And famous Greek sculptures, like the Eros of Praxiteles (see below) enabled Chuck Renslow, the pioneering gay erotic photographer and pretty much the founder of the contemporary gay leather/BDSM community, to stay in business. In other words, a full-frontal male nude can be aesthetically beautiful. It's not “dirty” and, in line with the Romantic sensibility that correlated truth with beauty, not morally offensive.
 

Praxiteles' Eros
Praxiteles' Eros

The famous sculpture of Eros by Praxiteles was so lifelike and seductive, that according to one source, a visitor to Thespiae named Allketas fell in love with it and jacked off against it. Pliny, the famous historian, claimed he left “traces of lust” on it. Cum stains? Scandalous. Nero also fell in love with it, but it perished in the great fire of 64 A.C.E. Of course, now someone would end up doing something that Allketas did and put it on Pornhub.

The seventeenth century Italian artist Caravaggio, one of the LGBTQ family, was always in trouble with his prudish Counter Reformation employers for using hot models for his mostly religious paintings, including street hustlers (who frequented the streets around the palaces of the Cardinals). In fact, one of his patrons, the creepy Cardinal Francesco del Monte, cultivated young men (some things never change). Caravaggio's painting “Victorious Love” or “Amor Vincit Omnia” shows Cupid as a naked youth “trouncing various symbols of human achievement and sophistication,” according to Leigh Rutledge. Ouch.

In the eighteenth century, a nude marble statute of an obscure local saint, Guignole, was supposedly able to cure infertility and frigidity. Keep in mind that many of the medieval saints were closely tied in person and function with pre-Christian religious practices, which usually focused on keeping life forces going, that is sex. According to Leigh Rutledge, women took scrapings from the statue's big cock, mixed them with water, and then drank the mixture. The monks - yes monks, supposedly chaste males - who tended the statue ended up having to keep repairing the mutilated penis. Thus, they drilled a hole through the statue's groin and inserted a long phallus made of wood down through it. As followers of the big-cocked saint scraped the penis down to size, a blow with a mallet from the rear would cause the dick to regain its original length. Oh my. So much is going on there.
 

Statue of Saint Guignole pierced with needles
Statue of Saint Guignole pierced with needles

Jumping to 1972, in the wake of the age of sexual liberation, Burt Reynolds appeared naked for Cosmopolitan magazine. Well, not completely, his dick was covered … but still, wow.
 

Burt Reynolds in Cosmopolitan
Burt Reynolds in Cosmopolitan

Yes, the audience was women, but this spread paved the way for Playgirl magazine, the publication for women and gay men. In fact, Playgirl's first centerfold was the hunky Lyle Waggoner of Carol Burnett fame. Even the incredibly talented Carol needed some eye candy hanging about for the benefit of the ladies and her gay fans.
 

Lyle Waggoner in Playgirl, June 1973
Lyle Waggoner in Playgirl, June 1973

Overall, one can see an objectification of the male body, but at the same time, a complex relationship of that body to the surrounding culture. The big dick here may be the god or God here in these scenarios, but it's not just the dick itself, but what it does and what you can do with it. Nature is just the inspiration point for the creative process of the human imagination.

Source: Leigh Rutledge, The Gay Book of Lists

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