Thanks for the link to the Playboy covers archive. It seems that something pretty drastic happened around 1990-94. Suddenly every other cover has someone made up like a transvestite, 80% of the bodies look totally fake and presented as fake....the make-up is gross. These awful covers are interspersed with surgically enhanced has-beens, women who were fantastic 10-15 years earlier (Bo Derek, La Toya Jackson, Farrah Fawcett).
However, it's only the last few years that the cover models have started to look like they're about as amused as a porn star on her 10th year in the business.
I buy Playboy every time it has an anniversary issue, just so I can get its run-down of all its previous covers, they usually have it in a gatefold format.
I wonder if the very old covers of Playboy benefited from an era when they weren't allowed to show women's bodies as starkly as today, and therefore had to be more suggestive (and inventive) with the visuals, which naturally adds a layer of mystique. The eroticism resides in the constraint.
Yes, even the era of supermodels using it as means to widen their audience have long gone, and I can't recall the last time I saw a cover with someone I actually knew on the front (apart from the recent Ana Nicole cash-in issue).
There are times I've bought this magazine and the women behind the counter have thrown the change down instead of giving it to my hand, and I think, woman, you have no idea what's out there, if you're offended by pictures of airbrushed American girls posing alone and pretending they all like kittens.
__________________ You're perfect, yes, it's true. But without me, you're only you.
These are adorable! I love the girl drawing a bunny in lipstick on her stomach. It's sexy, cute and fun. I think naturally beautiful girls who look like they're genuinely having fun are sooo much better than the porn stars of today.
Here's a place on the playboy.com website where you can view the past few years' covers of all the international editorials. While not exactly vintage, it does offer the chance to see the different aesthetics that each version goes for, both in cover design and in physical emphasis (no surprise to see Brazil is all about the bottom):
A page from the German Playboy site, showing some previous covers. The attached image, from playboy.de, is the Oct 2006 cover, though I find it has a curiously retro feel, perhaps it's the 'faded' colour scheme...
Nov 1963 - I saw it on flickr long ago while looking for vintage scans
Very cool ! I really like the photo itself, and it's a unique Playboy cover b/c the model is wearing a layer or two of thick clothing.