Friday, May 29, 2009

Reports surfaced this week that Hugh Hefner, longtime publisher of Playboy magazine, is considering relinquishing the reins of his bawdy empire. “Hef,” as the 83-year-old mogul is known, reportedly also is eyeing British billionaire Richard Branson as a potential new owner.

1. The decline of print — It’s the equivalent of the Late Cretaceous Period for magazines and newspapers. To buy Playboy today, even with its provocative photos (more on that below), is to invest in an animal that’s already been struck by an asteroid and is choking on atmospheric poison.

2. All the world’s a centerfold — Relatedly, there’s no lack of unclothed bodies on which to feast one’s eyes these days. Amid soft-core roadside billboards and shockingly hard-core online imagery, the old conceit (“I read it for the articles”) seems quaintly unnecessary.

3. Branding — How could Playboy, and all that the name implies, ever coexist with Mr. Branson’s Virgin brand?

4. No “Girls Next Door” — Mr. Branson has been married to the same woman for 20 years. That means no so-bad-it’s-good reality show chronicling his charmed life romancing three women young enough to be his granddaughters.

5. Pajamas — The swashbuckling Mr. Branson would look silly wearing them all day.

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