Now for your viewing curiosity: Playboy (sort of)

I remember the first time I saw a copy of Playboy magazine.

After she married, my older sister, trying to be a hip woman of the world, gave our father a subscription to the men’s magazine for Christmas one year. This was odd for several reasons. Ours was a conservative, religious household. Our father was no ladies’ man and gave no evidence (beyond becoming animated about the yesteryear film star Mitzi Gaynor) of being all that interested in such things, at least not at that point in his life.  He was not even lusty toward his wife, our mother (no bear hugs, kissing, or vocal hubba-hubbas, let alone swats on the ass were ever on display). My mother would surely not have approved of either the magazine or the gift but I now expect she must’ve looked the other way, and not objected audibly since it was her favorite daughter doing the gifting. That’s my best explanation anyway.

After we expressed interest, it was decided that my sister, two years older, and I, could see an issue of the magazine. We were probably 11 and 13 at the time. However, our father went through it first and then handed over a heavily redacted magazine. There were thick black lines drawn through much of the copy. Of course, then I was most curious about what had been hidden from us, although now, I expect I’d have been disappointed with the verboten content. This because our father had odd ways of thinking in general, and related to children, especially girl children, poorly. He grew up surrounded mostly by rough-and-tumble brothers, didn’t understand us, had no interest in trying, and was old enough to be a grandfather to his youngest children, of which I was one. Lord only knows how he decided what wasn’t fit for our viewing.

I have to tell you, though, even in its weird condition, the magazine was a happy surprise, in that I’m still a bit shocked that we were allowed to see it at all. I don’t remember much of what I thought about the visible content. I’m sure I didn’t relate to the women shown or the overall sensibility, but no doubt was glad to learn what it was. Curiosity has driven me all my life and this subject was no different. My sister and I looked at the magazine together, alone, and then returned it. There was no conversation with any adult as to what we’d seen, or if we had questions. This was typical of how things were done in our household, and I’d have expected no different.

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13 thoughts on “Now for your viewing curiosity: Playboy (sort of)

      1. John Callaghan

        My experience with my first pornographic magazine was very different than yours. But I think both of us had an appreciation for the mystery of Playboy. Now kids can see everything on line any time they want. Spoiled little fuckers.

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        1. writerinsoul Post author

          I figured guys wouldn’t relate! The cachet of men’s mags for little boys is/was very different. I was, instead, over the moon for Harlequin romance books. Thankfully, I outgrew this while still fairly young.

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  1. Andrew Davis

    Now, I do not know if this was intentional but your piece was akin to Playboy itself, teasing only so far. Black lines through the magazine. Redacted Playboy jokes, interview with Mel Brooks, body parts? For example, what exactly does “I expect I’d have been disappointed with the verboten content. This because our father had odd ways of thinking in general, and related to children, especially girl children, poorly.” mean? This teases me to think items redacted were not the expected ones. Breasts were okay, but the expression on the girl next door had to go? Was he a fanatic of the airbrushed look and only natural parts of the girl were allowed?
    And finally, did you find the bunny on the cover? He couldn’t have redacted that!

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I don’t remember the kinds of details you seek! I remember a lot of written copy black-out, definitely jokes. Likely the crossed-out parts would’ve disappointed in that I wouldn’t have either understood, or appreciated the humor if I had. I’m not certain there was any sensible rhyme or reason to the “editing”. Basically, I expect I didn’t see at the time how any of this had anything to do with me (or ever would?) . It was a curiosity like Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Playboy, a two-headed goat? Much the same to 11 year old me.

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  2. vanbytheriver

    That’s so strange to me. I can’t imagine the thinking that went into the editing for 11 and 13 year old girl’s viewing, or that your older sister even gifted it? I was trying to picture my own mother’s reaction…yikes. On the other hand…my first experience was via a neighbor boy. He somehow acquired his father’s stash of “porn”, such as it was in the late 1950’s, and buried some in the woods behind our house. He would take his friends out for the viewing. It was a treat for the older kids, it just confused me ! (Said neighbor was arrested as a teen for peeping Tom activities).

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Yes, strange is the right word. Especially in such a generally repressive household. I think your experience is more common; one kid gets ahold of the “goods” and shares them with others. The peeping Tom part is just icky.

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  3. battlewagon13

    My first foray into ‘that’ world was when I was 10 or 11. We lived next to a college campus (a religious one by the way) and after school was out in the summer we would go over and dumpster dive. It was quite he learning experience.

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