Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Lesson for Men

'When will a women accept all of a man's advances?'
- from Playboy (it is work safe)

The Economics of Playboy;
Q: What sort of cultural/political maneuvering does Playboy engage in to have its magazine sold around the world? Is the magazine available, e.g., in places like Saudi Arabia, and if so, how does that happen?

A: The best explanation is contained in the current issue (September 2007) in our Forum section, which is a report on our experience in Indonesia. It’s also available here. Our approach on foreign editions is to license the magazine to a publisher already operating in that country. That said, I can’t wait for our troops to come home from Iraq. We’ve had a lot of subscription cancellations because our armed forces can’t receive the magazine in-country or on bases nearby.

Q: How is Playboy trying to stay relevant in the current adult entertainment industry? As Stephen mentioned, the supply of porn out there is overwhelming, and paying for it seems antiquated.

A: People still are happy to pay for Playboy images online. Our pay site generates tens of millions of dollars. Paying for it seems antiquated? They’re willing to pay for quality. Otherwise they’re stealing it. Are you telling me honesty is past its prime?

Q: Can you discuss the degree to which the organization has discussed moving Playboy from what is now a relatively soft-core offering to a more hard-core genre?

A: I assume you’re talking about the magazine? If so, not us. Why would hard-core be the answer to anything? Does anyone know the economics there? Leave it to Larry Flynt, who will not be outflanked. (“There are always cheaper girls and there will always be cheaper paper.”)

Playboy of the Muslim World
PLAYBOY Indonesia is actually among the tamest publications on newsstands in Jakarta. Some people even complained on talk radio shows about the lack of skin in the magazine. "It's a sin to read Playboy if there's no nudity!" one caller said. You can buy FHM, Maxim, a local magazine called Popular and a handful of gossipy tabloids, all of which leave less to the imagination. If those publications don't satisfy, porn movies are available from street vendors for as little as 50 cents.

Before producing the first issue I reached out to the conservative Muslim community. But when I sat down with the leader of the largest Islamist group, the Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders Front), along with his lawyer, they were in no mood to break bread. They told me that if I published the magazine the FPI would file a criminal complaint. Later another FPI leader told reporters the group had "declared war" on Playboy.

We printed 100,000 copies of the first issue and priced them at a relatively expensive 39,000 rupiahs (about $4.50). They sold out in two days.

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