I don't look at Playboy anymore. Partly because pornography doesn't hold the same cachet and excitement that it once did and partly because everything looks so fake there in those pages. Eventually porn, once one has looked at it enough, becomes old hat. It's not exciting. Teenage years spent with sexual frustration does that to you. The real thing is much sexier, much more exciting, and much much more intriguing. Mix that with a real relationship and you have a winner on your hands.
However, Playboy has become that male teenage rite of passage, a standard, known throughout the world as the quintessential and almost generic porno magazine. I was looking at logos the other day and came across a list of voter-rated top 10 logos of all time. I saw that Stussy was at the top (to me, almost deservedly so). I looked down the list and saw Playboy at number nine. No other media logo made the list, which says something about their brand. If you say the word playboy and use it in its proper sense, you'll still trigger the image of scantily clad -- who am I kidding? -- naked women, posing in airbrushed glory with a stats sheet that tells you briefly about their hopes and dreams and what they're "all about."
I looked at the logo, which I haven't really seen in years, and it gave me a shiver. I thought about the first time I saw it. My uncle, who lived with us occasionally back in London, had a few of them in his room, which was the guest room when he wasn't living with us. At 8 and 9, I knew there was something about them that was supposedly bad, forbidden -- dirty. But flipping though the English tabloid The Sun and seeing Samantha Fox and other endowed women grace the infamous "Page 3" started to instill a deep curiosity and probably an excitement I had no understanding of at the time. I was looking at women, for the first time as sexual beings.
Every once in a while when the large flat was empty and I was on my own (my parents gave me a strange sort of independence early on) I'd sneak into my uncle's room and look for this small pile of Playboys. Much locker room and soccer in the park talk with boys at school revealed little-known tidbits about girls and their "privates." My uncle's magazines were valuable research materials.
I think he had two of them in rotation most of the time. He kept the pile small and hidden, albeit poorly, beneath two other magazines. I found them easily enough, on the fourth shelf from the bottom in a five-story bookcase. The main one I looked at had Brigitte Nielsen. If I'm not mistaken, she was briefly married to the Italian Stallion himself, ol' Sly Stallone. She was impressive and made an impression on my young 9-year-old mind, a Nordic statuesque body that made me feel funny. I didn't know what that feeling was until later.
I remember it was strange though. The things my body was feeling. Like it wanted out, whatever "it" was. It wasn't what you're thinking, not directly anyway. But it ran though my whole body, the first sexual pining, I'd venture to guess.
Many teenage years later, sharing and looking at Playboys with friends whose fathers horded what seemed like boxes full of them, and some adult years later, it's all somewhat left behind. Not entirely but for the most part. I'm not going to lie to you to appear sensitive and all metrosexual-like, but porn has its place in the education of a young man's -- young person's -- sexual growing pains.
But looking at that Playboy logo again brought an echo of that first shiver, like the deep memory of a first kiss, the excitement of a new relationship and the lasting impression of all that's experienced from then and now.