The 40-Year-Old Version

Everything used to be way better. I found evidence.


It was at a yard sale for two dollars, and it’s actual proof, unlike my hazy memories. A motherfucking forty-year-old issue of Playboy.

I have not physically laid hands upon a copy of Playboy in decades. I don’t even remember the last time I saw one. It was in the 1990s, and it wasn’t heavy. This June 1977 issue feels like a marble tile. Merely placing it adjacent to where I slumber has caused multiple soft-core sex dreams. By instinct, I felt the urge to conceal it.

First off, let me tell you; I’m not showing you the bush. Neither you nor your computer’s fan can handle it. This is real, regular-woman, 1970s, proud, untrimmed bush. Allow me to do my job here and describe how it looks: like something you’d trample your grandmother to plow. Or, a playful wink from God. Don’t get me wrong, I love a shaved beaver, but there’s a lot to be said for the au naturel Abe Lincoln beard.

Moving on.

This is one of the issues where Skip Williamson was in the art department, but it doesn’t feature any of his art as far as I can tell. The cover byline is “Entertainment For Men”. The entire mindset of the magazine is the cultivation of a sophisticated masculine persona. It’s reflected in the ads, the cartoons, and the articles, which really were the reason you bought it. The nude pictorials were the icing on the bachelor cake, because the international sign of a successful man is intimate carnal knowledge of beautiful women. 

See how it all makes sense? How the gradual destruction of this institution over the decades can be seen as the destruction of American masculinity itself, a form of passive-aggressive war waged by weaker, envious persons? See how you can really fuck up a child’s sexual development, by complicating it with things that might not exist in any way that affects them?

See why men are pissed off and frustrated all the time? Because the world has been squeezing our nuts, harder and harder, as history marches on. Look around you. All the men are either building or destroying right now. The ones that are cowering aren’t really men.

I swear, I never saw this ad before I made the exact same joke in the old He-Don and the Bastards of the Universe strip. Seriously!

Also from the letters page. Anything I add would be gilding the lily.

In 1977, there was a terrible movie released to capitalize on the success of Jaws, also featuring Robert Shaw. It was The Deep, and its terribleness led the producers to bank on two more reliable aspects of the film to promote it. See if you can guess what they were.

Jacqueline Bisset’s nipples.

There was a plot on the old sitcom Cheers, where Sam Malone was reminded of a bar bet he’d made; marry Jacqueline Bisset by a certain age, or lose the titular pub. He had to hunt down another woman named Jacqueline Bisset, and marry her, if I recall correctly, to save face. Just to give you an idea of the brief yet prominent cultural impression of those two little buttons up there.

Look; let me extrapolate for a moment on the whole “pictures of breasts” thing, and breasts in general.

  1. Cosmetic science has only been able to manufacture something that feels kind of breast-like. Men have been to the moon; the only thing on Earth that feels like a titty is a titty. Real breasts feel differently depending on the axis by which they are squeezed. Sideways feels differently than top-down, or a push. Breasts are almost always lighter or heavier than they appear. They come in an infinite variety of textures, let alone sizes. It is literally impossible to get bored with breasts.
  2. If a nude woman runs past 100 people, all of them will look. Compare that to a nude man running past 100 people.
  3. I don’t know where I was going with that last one.
  4. Breasts have to be trained, which is dependent on the training bra technology of the time. This is the reason you see cone-tits in the 1950s, and more natural cleavage today. It’s puberty stuff, so don’t bring it up, or you’ll get labeled a creep unless you have a daughter. Even then, it’s sketchy.

You can rant and rave all day, but people still want to look at pictures of breasts. Nude women and art are indistinguishable from each other. What the fuck, how much art is actually pictures of nude women? If Michelangelo hadn’t been queer, there’d be no art of nude dudes at all!*

(*I’m being facetious, for fuck’s sake. Lighten up.)

Growing up, I gained a lot of liquor knowledge through osmosis from whacking material. This isn’t my favorite, although I do enjoy it.*

(*My favorite rum is Mount Gay Eclipse. It’s so good, you don’t even care about the Mount Gay in the name when you ask for it.)

Pens and stereo equipment, both unabashedly expensive. That’s how you flaunted it back then. Try asking the average man on the street for a pen now. You’ll see a phone and a confused expression.

Part of me believes that the real reason nude female photography was so vehemently discouraged was not for any lofty feminist goal, but because of the selling power inherent in the female body. Directors used to call breasts “the cheapest special effects”, because they are. Why do you think anyone saw Blame It On Rio? Because it starred a 16-year-old nubile who couldn’t stay clothed, that’s why.

Also Demi Moore, but… well, refer to #1 on my list earlier in the article. If you’ve seen Striptease, you already know what I’m talking about.


The feeling of being a man and impressing a woman with your car is so powerful, so desirable, it has been subliminally corrupted and destabilized by the media. That won’t keep it from being real.

Oh gee whiz thank goodness we did away with all this fun stuff.

Every object in the magazine is analog. All the photographs are glossy and high-quality; even the ads. Convenience has not been embraced yet. Everything down to the typesetting and layout was difficult and had to be done by a professional. A person. A human being.

From the “VERY candid” interview of former Little Rascal, Robert Blake.

Do you really believe we live in a world of “acceptance”? Because we don’t. Society isn’t naturally accepting; you have to earn your place in it. That’s the deal. You earn acceptance. Demands are for obedience. If you demand acceptance, you will receive rejection.

Taking photographs of people is easy now because the technology is available to anyone. The photos in this magazine had to be meticulously set up, with prohibitively expensive equipment. Expensive due to its rarity. You had to rent the equipment, pay the photographer by the hour, and pay for the developing process! See how much more thought that put into taking pictures? How much more art?

Photography is an art. Taking pictures is evidence. 

A girl polluting the Internet with “selfies” is the type of girl that forty years ago, would have been encouraged to work with a professional photographer. This would result in some good shots, which could be circulated among agents or casting directors. Success could only happen so fast in 1977. This means that the girl in question would also be encouraged to use her inevitable downtime wisely, with a secondary pursuit. Thus, an attractive girl would also become worldly, while working within a dangerous industry that only she can, if she makes it, and doesn’t do nudity.

If you had to drive your photos to a developer, who would have to look at them while processing them, before selling you the photographs AND the negatives, you probably wouldn’t snap photos of your private parts either.

Playboy was always considered “high class”, or “soft-core”- no petting, no penetration of orifices. For those, you went to Penthouse, or Hustler. These featured all the aspects of porno that I tend to avoid. If part of your own body is far from your eyes, it wasn’t meant for a close-up under a camera lens.

Anyway, in America, finding out a woman posed for Playboy was only mildly controversial. Anything harder was equated to prostitution.

Up The Academy‘s Barbara Bach appears in a scorching pictorial. In 1977, bondage was “kinky”, not “normalized”.

Mentioned on the cover is “Sudden Money”, by Robert Kerwin. You can see the birth of an alarming percentage of our culture in this article, as key individuals strike gold on their contributions:

  • The legendary pornographer Jim Mitchell, of the O’Farrell Theater, before he killed his brother Artie
  • The dude who co-wrote the definitive book on Charles Manson
  • Gary Dahl, creator of the Pet Rock
  • Michael Douglas, when he was mainly the producer of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
  • Porno queen Marilyn Chambers of Behind The Green Door
  • Neil fricking Simon
  • Telly Savalas, TV’s Kojak (“I spend all my money, baby”)
  • The author of The Exorcist
  • Nolan Bushnell, the founder of ATARI. 

I couldn’t fit it all in (heh), but notice how Blatty looks like General Zod.

Q: You know what’s more interesting than mannequins, and clothing models?

A: Hiring an artist to airbrush pictures of people wearing the clothes. See David Platt’s example below:

Name one major contemporary magazine that does this. Why did it stop? Convenience.

Look at that woman. Look at her! See how the artistic standard is upheld? See why dudes would save these things for generations? See how much power rests in a rendering of the female form?

Here’s another great example, that you might know; the Playboy Party Jokes Girl. Behold, how she raises erections with tiny amounts of ink. She was always a more welcome sight than the lukewarm jokes themselves.

It’s LeRoy Neiman! LEROY NEIMAN!

Intense introspection over the past couple of years has revealed to me the following truths:

  1. My mom was hot, which means my earliest memories involve being looked upon lovingly by a beautiful woman. Thus, I will always subconsciously seek that sensation. Rest assured, this is the end result of the “MILF”. You guys out there with hot moms: you are fucked, in the metaphorical sense of the word. 
  2. My dad worked at a Madison Avenue ad agency in the 1970s. Once, he brought me to his work, which on that day was supervising the photographing of young female models wearing Coke shirts. Young, NYC, 1970s, aspiring models with long hair and shiny lips who were tickled pink by the presence of an adorable 5-year-old boy. I remember what they smelled like.

I’m not girl-crazy for nothing, folks. The women of the 1970s just happened to crank my standards sky-high.

I haven’t been back to NYC in over a decade, but I hope it still smells like I recall; bus exhaust and scorched pretzel dough.

There’s Hef at lower left, siphoning McGuire’s energy. And what did I tell you about the Pussy Wagon? It’s certified!

Some other bygone things I noticed, so I can wrap this up:

  • natural and flattering tan lines
  • cartoons with jokes about casual indecent exposure, group sex, adultery, and other hilarious taboos
  • tons of cigarette ads that make smoking look cool
  • more classy liquor ads than you can shake a baby at
  • a couple of “Internet-breakers” that I’ll leave you with:

A Grapevine blurb on Steve Gerber, creator of Howard The Duck.

Finally, below is a picture of how almost all of us who witnessed the dawn of video games were ushered into that world. This was the beginning, before the Atari 2600. All that mattered was PONG. 

Note the illustration at center. It’s a collage, but that’s the same way video game “screenshots” were done, until the early 1980s.

Alright, that’s enough for now. Get out of my room. I have to put this back under my mattress before I get caught with it. Don’t use the door- use the window, stupid! Are you crazy? You wanna get me in trouble? I’ll kill you if you wake my sister up, asshole!!

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Filed under Bad Influences, Faint Signals, Girls of BIUL, Late To The Party, Magazine Rack, Nostalgic Obsessions