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'Playboy' Snaps Out Of Its Never-Nude Phase

One year after removing full-frontal nudity from its pages, Playboy is returning to its roots. "Naked is normal," the magazine announces on the cover of its March/April 2017 issue. The cover also omits a long-used tagline: "Entertainment for Men."

Cooper Hefner, Playboy's chief creative officer who's also the son of magazine founder Hugh Hefner, says that the evolution of the magazine "is a reflection of how the brand can best connect with my generation and generations to come."

On the decision to remove the phrase "Entertainment for Men" from the cover, Hefner said, "Playboy will always be a lifestyle brand focused on men's interests, but as gender roles continue to evolve in society, so will we."

The change could mean that Playboy, in its return to printing photos of unclad people, will also have to return to cladding itself in plastic wrap on newsstands. It was able to shed that wrap last February.

In an updated form of the "Playboy Philosophy" columns his father wrote, Hefner emphasized the magazine's long-running attempts "to promote a healthy conversation about sex while also encouraging dialogue on social, philosophical and religious opinions."

Comments on that posting were largely enthusiastic.

"Glad nudity is back, as it should be," one reads in part.

Another states, "I've been a decade long subscriber to Playboy magazine and stopped when they ended the nudity and the articles went full hipster."

That commenter signed off with, "MAKE PLAYBOY GREAT AGAIN!"

First launched in the 1950s, Playboy surprised many when it announced in late 2015 that it planned to cut out nudity.

At the time, the magazine, which had watched its circulation drop to around 800,000, said it was making an effort to grow up. It was also adjusting to a media landscape in which nudity is commonplace online — but is tightly restricted by most social media platforms, which have become vital outlets for many publishers, no matter their content.

Here's how writer Charlie Warzel described it for NPR when the change was announced:

"Playboy seems to sort of exist in this middle ground, this ill-defined place where, you know, you have a lot of the adult entertainment, which is very sort of hard core and caters to the fringes and is not mainstream at all. And then you have, you know, the other side of Playboy's enterprise, which is this culture and lifestyle section. You know, it came up in the '50s as what the cultured, sophisticated, suave man might read — a real sort of Esquire-like lifestyle publication. And then, you now, as it's evolved, it's kind of become a character of itself. So I think it's trying to get back to its roots as, you know, as a culture publication."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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