Humor over nudity in guy magazines

By Linda Shrieves The Orlando Se
October 16, 2003

They are all the things that polite society is not. They’re brash and sassy and bear an uncanny resemblance to The Comedy Channel’s testosterone-charged “The Man Show.” Their pages are filled with scantily clad women and frat-boy humor.

Their names: Maxim. And Stuff. And FHM. And King. And Razor.

They are not remotely literary, nor do they show women fully nude. Yet they may be sounding a death knell for a staple of American magazines since the 1960s _ the men’s girlie magazine. Hustler founder Larry Flynt concedes that most of his corporation’s income now comes from movies that his company produces and his casinos.

Maxim, FHM and Stuff _ the top three newcomers _ sell a total of 5 million copies a month. While Playboy remains the big dog, with 3.2 million readers each month, Maxim isn’t far behind, with 2.5 million.

“Fifty percent of Playboy’s demographic is 35 and older,” says Neil Morgan, a marketing professor at the University of North Carolina. ”

“Playboy’s your father’s pornography, not yours,” says Gail Dines, sociology professor at Boston’s Wheelock College.

The magazine’s biggest problem is founder Hugh Hefner himself.

“Can you imagine a 20-year-old opening the magazine and, on page 10 every month, there’s a picture of a 77-year-old man, popping Viagra, surrounded by young blond women?” says Samir Husni, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi.

Instead, the articles are humorous and in-your-face. Question-and-answer sessions with famous athletes, guides to pickup lines, and reviews of the latest video games are wedged in with multipage spreads of starlets in tiny bikinis.

Playboy readers offered a legendary excuse _ “I buy it for the articles” _ for picking up the magazine. The reason? The politically incorrect humor. “I like the way they write,” says Tony Baldick, a 29-year-old restaurant manager. “In England, where Maxim and other British “laddie” magazines mushroomed in the past decade, the editorial content focused primarily on three topics: women, soccer and beer.

“They write articles about cool places and how to pick up girls and stuff,” says Abraham Wilson, 22, a computer-science major at the University of Central Florida. “Maxim will go to colleges and ask college students questions. I don’t see Playboy doing that.”

Total nudity, some men say, isn’t necessarily better. Women are “sexier with some clothes on,” says Abraham Yacoub, 22, another University of Central Florida student. Sure,” says Husni. “You don’t feel guilty looking at those magazines. And you don’t have to worry if your girlfriend is coming into the room.

Posted to the Web by: Toccara Buckley

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Linda Shrieves The Orlando Se

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