I was roughly eleven, I was standing in-front of the three sectors of magazines at Good News on 24th street. Patiently I put up the guise that I was content with the two lower shelves of magazines, the only two which were supposed to be accessible to the height of individuals of my age-range. I was waiting for someone to ask the cashier for an obscure sect of cigarettes, something that would force him to turn his back for approximately thirty seconds. When this potential opportunity arose, one had to be quick; grab the magazine and jam your thumb into the center, because, theoretically that’s where the good stuff was. Everybody knew that.
Mention the names Playboy, Hustler or Penthouse and surely the dominant image is going to the showcasing of naked women. Beavers, melons and buns are indeed a mammoth part of the magazines but the arousal summoned by these publications is, to some extent, a byproduct of the original intent of the publishers. Playboy was the first of the big three men’s magazines. Hugh Hefner began publishing Playboy in 1953. The magazine was and is, aimed at an overall high-end audience. The nudity is fairly straightforward,naked women, no spread eagles or anything of that sort. Politically, Playboy has always boasted support for free speech but has also veered towards a libertarian economy. Back to my eleven year-old self, If it was Playboy I had snagged from the high reaches of the magazine shelf, my calculations pertaining to where exactly the center was had to be more exact because, contrary to popular belief, the publication was mostly text, with about six to eight pages of nudity. This is a metaphor for how “high-society” views sex; somewhat hidden and something which is eventually attained.
Penthouse was aimed at a more working-class demographic. While the poses in Playboy were docile and arguably objective (merely naked women sitting and smiling) Penthouse featured legs spread, pursed lips (uppers), and seductive eyes. Subsequently, Hustler debuted, pandering to an audience which was beyond working class but even radical, with nihilistic sexual romps which bordered on anarchistic.
The point being, the treatment of sex within each magazine is dictated by the economic echelon that each publication is aimed at. The higher-end and most conservative publication, views sex as a clean act and basically a reward for inhabiting the higher ends of society. Conversely, the blue collar adult magazines treat sex as a mere function of human nature; sex is treated in a rawer fashion.