Growing up, I had a friend whose Dad read playboy.
We all knew it too. His big bad secret was hidden under his mattress at home and in his bathroom cabinet. He was a figure head in the Jewish community and I judged him. Oh boy did I judge him as only a 12 year old girl could. I thought that he lacked the spine and integrity that a Jewish man should have by reading such a sexually oriented piece of media.
Sometimes his son got hold of one of those oh so forbidden Playboy magazines and brought it in for all of us to peruse during recess in a secluded corner of the schoolyard. We all gathered around that one measly, outdated issue of Playboy and poured over it with such concentration that it would have made our parents proud if only we mirrored our devotion to the study of the weekly Torah portion as we did to those Playboy bunnies.
It was forbidden and bad and exciting.
Even today when I imagine us all huddled around that one measly magazine, hanging on the every last word of the questions and answers hoping to get a glimpse of that oh so forbidden centerfold it makes me smile a naughty “I know something you don’t know” grin.
That was then, this is now.
My first response to hearing that playboy was coming to Israel was one of intrigue.
But after much debate I realized that I won’t be buying a subscription because I don’t think that they will even make it past 6 issues.
This naïve Oleh entrepreneur from Chicago is underestimating the fact that the Israeli porn industry is run by the ruthless Israeli mafia. How long do you think it will take for the Israeli Playboy office to have work stoppages and to have threats against them unless they close or start paying up for some mafia “protection”?
Is it possible that he doesn’t understand or just doesn’t care about the Israel machine he is up against. Not to mention that his new reality of “between a rock and a hard place” has only just begun. From now on, he won’t be sandwiched between Candy and Cherry. He will be squeezed tight between the religious right and the mafia left.
Unfortunately, he will learn all this the hard way.
Furthermore, Israelis are spendthrifts and will consider themselves “fraiers” if they pay for something that is readily available for free online. I mean, when was the last time you saw a skin flick in the movie machine at your corner shopping mall. It isn’t there because people won’t rent it openly. They will watch their porn online IN PRIVATE. There is porn galore available online (yes, even Sabra porn).
Internet porn is discreet; you don’t need to meet your neighbor at the makolet (corner store) while buying it. Do you think that Dudu wants to have his nosy neighbors stop by for a coffee and see his latest Playboy issue on the coffee table? Of course he can start to fumble around for the right way to explain that he only bought it for the articles but his neighbor already knows that Dudu doesn’t read.
People don’t want to pay for porn even if it does have a tag name on it. This fact is obvious if you look at the Playboy company value that went from $1 billion in 2000, to $185 million in 2011. Furthermore, to save money, Playboy merged its July and August issues. Last week the full extent of the company’s financial crisis was made public when it reported a second-quarter loss of nearly $9 million, more than double the loss of $3.2 million for the same period the previous year. Revenues fell by 15 per cent.
Why he started Playboy Israel is not of great interest to me, what he plans to do with it is. If it will be a publication that is truly as diverse as the Israeli culture we live in then it may have a sinking chance of success. Taking socially relevant topics that are both controversial and interesting and exploiting them is what Israeli marketing is all about.
For example, taking the women of the wall and wrapping them in a prayer shawl (and only a prayer shawl) with a Kotel background or posing some female security guards on Obama’s limo or maybe even having a group of Playboy bunnies go ice skating at the Ice World in Jerusalem as a Passover outing. These are things that would capture the attention of many different levels of society and that are ideas unique to Israel.
If the extreme religious segment of the population doesn’t torch his car and stone him to death first, of course.
I mean, really????? I can already see all I want to about them on their Facebook pages and in the Paparazzi videos on YouTube. Why would I spend money on such a mundane exploitation of an already tapped market?
If you have reached this point and even after reading all of what is wrong about Playboy Israel you are still interested in being a more active Playboy supporter (and you aren’t scared that your overprotective religious/Sephardi/Muslim/Christian family won’t kill you or disown you) then you can submit your eligibility to be a bunny on their site.
Or just buy the magazine…because at this point, it is an act of charity.
(Published originally March 23, 2013 on the Times of Israel)