Editor Mourns End of Playgirl Magazine

Last Updated: Thursday, December 4, 2008 4:16 PM ET Comments6Recommend15
CBC News

The demise of Playgirl leaves a void in the North American magazine landscape for women's erotica, says the title's final editor in chief.

After a 35-year run, Playgirl will continue in an online version only. The last print issue, completed in early October, is now available on newsstands.

Since its launch in 1973, the magazine has struggled with new publishers, changing editors and a shifting readership over the years.

Though there was "an element of surprise" when staff learned of the print edition's demise in July, "we weren't terribly surprised to hear it was all going online," editor in chief Nicole Caldwell told CBC Radio's cultural affairs show Q on Thursday.

"We did find it pretty unfortunate, because we had been enjoying higher numbers in the last year and a half or so. We were feeling quite confident in the direction we were taking it," she said.

By the end, the magazine was completed with just Caldwell and two staffers, bolstered by "a team of unpaid interns and a lot of freelancers."

Established in a completely different era, Playgirl originally mixed its sexy shots of men with articles exploring topics like abortion, drug addiction, birth control and other female health issues, as well as writing by the likes of Joyce Carol Oates, Raymond Carver, Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou and Tennessee Williams.

It was also born during a time when feminists had the mentality that "what's good for the guys is good for the women," said Globe and Mail columnist and cultural commentator Karen von Hahn.

"Now it seems to be very much about a recognition that men and women are fundamentally different," said the Toronto writer. "I don't think [the magazine] was ever what women wanted. I think they tried on the pantsuit and they tried being the guy and looking at sexuality and experiencing sexuality that same way, but it never really fit."

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