Whatever your opinion of pornography, it's difficult to dispute that Playboy magazine is an American icon. From helping to change sexual mores in the '50s and '60s to publishing great fiction by literature's leading writers, Playboy was undeniably a great magazine. But those times are long past. Today, rather than feature the girls next door, Playboy mostly specializes in the borderline skanks who employ good plastic surgeons. In place of in-depth examinations of today's most pressing social issues, typical coverline topics allude to little more than screwing: "Get Hard in Six Seconds," "Nice Girls Who Love to Act KINKY," "Yes! You Can Get Lucky Online," "19 Ways to Take Off Her Panties," etc. Another modern change has been an overriding focus on celebrity skin. In an effort to boost impulse buys at the newsstand, Playboy's braintrust has deduced that nothing attracts readers more than nude pictures of public figuresno matter how fleeting or ill-deserved their fame. In craven desperation to feature anyone with even the most remote name recognition, Playboy's covers have heralded such naked "superstars" as "Melrose Mom Lisa Rinna Proud, Pregnant And Beautiful," "HEF'S TWINS Naked as Jaybirds," or "TV's 'Dream Team' Angie Everhart NUDE." While it's conceivable that some readers would actually enjoy seeing those women naked, there are other pseudo-celebrities featured in Playboy that defy understanding. While the definition of female beauty is certainly wide-ranging and often personal, these models do not exactly convey hot, steaming eroticism. Surely even the most testosterone-charged masses of male magazine-buyers did not ask to see this.
Jessica Hahn, September 1988
In many ways, Jessica Hahn opened the Playboy floodgates for unappealing, sex-scandal figures everywhere. Before, Playboy's editors required a certain universal physical beauty in their models. No more. Hahn, whose affair with televangelist Jim Bakker helped bring down his un-Godly empire, wasn't exactly a looker or even a girl-next-door beauty. But, equipped with massive media exposure, lots of make-up, and new breasts courtesy of Hugh Hefner, she became a Playboy cause célèbre and launched a new trend: nude bimbos. Penthouse responded by snagging the bimbo who brought down Jimmy Swaggert, with even ickier results. And thus the race to expose the augmented breasts of lamentably well-known headline-grabbers was on.
Darva Conger, August 2000
Amazing as it unfortunately doesn't seem, the summer of 2000 belonged to yet another of the FOX television network's efforts to bring humanity to a new low: Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire. In this "reality show," the 34-year-old Conger "won" a wedding with the "handsome" "multimillionaire" 42-year-old Rick Rockwell. The marriage lasted 28 seconds. The scandal lasted a few months longer, particularly when allegations of violence in Rockwell's past were revealed. Naturally, Playboy had to respond to the huge national demand to see the breasts of a woman stupid enough to marry a man she had just met on television.
Shari Belafonte, September 2000
Well, she's the daughter of singer Harry Belafonte. She's appeared in episodes of Babylon 5 and Hotel. She's also got a zany taste in hair styling. Obviously, having developed a massive fanbase with those achievements, Belafonte's next step was to satisfy the public's insatiable curiosity by posing nude. The reverberations of shock are still being felt to this day.
Chyna, November 2000, January 2002
Granted, Joanie Laurer (nee Chyna) is undoubtedly the most physically strong cover model Playboy has ever featured. And there are indeed certain men who eagerly fantasize about being flung across a room like a hanky by an Amazon princess. But, as befitting her former job in World Wrestling Entertainment (nee Federation), Chyna is also a rather brutish figure whose surgical enhancements don't exactly disguise this fact. Must we really see what's behind the steel breastplates? Can't we just leave the, um, mystique intact?
Tiffany, April 2002
Ah, who can forget the great Debbie Gibson vs. Tiffany battles of the late '80s? Just about everyone, really. Nevertheless, here she is, 15 years too late: Tiffany "All Grown Up Totally Nude." Perhaps she thought a nude pictorial would revitalize her career. Or maybe no one told her that one-hit-wonders are best left to VH1 rehash specials. Still, there are probably at least a dozen or so overjoyed post-Boomers out there who keep this issue ready at hand for a bout of '80s nostalgia.
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