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Playboy Begins Anew As A Never-Nude Magazine

Actress and model Dree Hemingway, daughter of Mariel Hemingway, is the first <em>Playboy</em> Playmate to be featured without full-frontal nudity. She's seen here in a cropped version of her centerfold photograph.

If you're a fan of trivia, you might want to remember the name Dree Hemingway. She's the first Playboy Playmate to be featured in the magazine's new life without full-frontal nudity.

Hemingway — Miss March 2016 — is the great-granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway. According to her bio sheet on Playboy's website, she's 28, drinks only tequila and is a fan of the band alt-J. Her mother, Mariel Hemingway, was on the cover of Playboy in 1982.

The cover of the March issue, which will be on newsstands next Friday, is a shout-out to Snapchat, with model Sarah McDaniel shown posing as if for a selfie.

"The idea was to look at me from a boyfriend's perspective," McDaniel says in the magazine's announcement about its "first non-nude issue."

The change comes months after Playboy announced it would stop publishing photos of nude women — a practice that's been integral to its existence since the 1950s. As NPR reported at the time, Playboy's print circulation had fallen from a high of more than 5.5 million readers in 1975 to about 800,000 in late 2015.

If the term non-nude brings to mind the awkward primness of Tobias Fünke, the famed sufferer of Never Nude syndrome from Arrested Development, we can tell you that Playboy's take on the concept is a bit different.

For the new issue, Hemingway posed both with and without clothing; the latter photos are presented in black and white and are similar to the arty shots that can be found in non-plastic-wrapped magazines such as Esquire and GQ.

For Playboy, the new changes also mean the magazine itself will now be naked: Newsstand editions will no longer be packaged in the plastic bag it adopted in 1985.

Other elements of the magazine's revamp include:

  • Larger size — The magazine will now be printed to a 9-by-11-inch format.
  • Francofile -- "The return of a high-profile interview every month by resident renaissance man James Franco."
  • Rabbit Hole — Miscellany expert Ben Schott will write about words and ideas. This month's is nudity.
  • Playboy Advisor — The famous advice column will now be written by a woman, Rachel Rabbit White — "Rabbit is her real middle name," her website tells us.

When we asked a Playboy press representative about the impact that the non-nude approach has had on its subscriber base, they referred us to a statement CEO Scott Flanders made in an interview with CNN:

"I think in today's world it's sort of unrealistic to think that anyone's subscribing to Playboy magazine because they can't find nudity anywhere else," Flanders said. "That would be a rather un-creative subscriber."

The final edition of Playboy to portray fully nude women was its combined January/February 2016 issue, which featured Amberleigh West and Kristy Garett as Miss January 2016 and Miss February 2016, respectively.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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