Playboy Retro: Girls At Home

By Staff

<p>Back in 1959, Playboy tried to capture the beauty of the fairer sex in its natural habitat. </p>


From the February 1959 issue of the magazine comes “Girls in Their Lairs,” a pictorial billed as “an amorist’s guide to the habitats and habits of the fairest game of all.”

It was a different time, 1959 was; we are perhaps more forward thinking in the year 2013 in terms of gender politics, and yet there remains something striking about each of these photos, an artistic quality at times lacking in today’s idea of capturing the female form. What we’re presented with is an interesting dichotomy: as our ideas on gender supposedly equalize for the better, why has our art descended into hypersexualized yet dull standard fare? 

The following appeared alongside the pictorial, grounding the controversial concept as something of a National Geographic special. But that only serves to further emphasize the divide in decades; the bulk of today’s feminine features might be accompanied by little more than “Hot Girls Nude for Free,” never something as creative albeit alienating as, say, this:

Romantic meandering among nature’s glories—as they flourish on the urban scene—is a proper pursuit for the frisky fellow who wants to do his share to make the world go round. But like anything worth doing well, whether it’s the taming of the shrews or the happier occupation of stalking delicate prey, there are certain perils involved. Luckily, these are not too hard to avoid and may be quickly charted as a ready guide to the amorous huntsman. In general, the fairer the game, the more alert you must be. The gambit is to win over the wild creature without yourself being won. Many’s the unwary chap who has complimented himself on his skill at attaining his ends, only to discover, too late, that the hunter was the hunted, that he had set his snares so cunningly that it was he who was ensnared. This is not necessary; the ancient rules of the chase may be applied with equal effectiveness to today’s quarry.

First, then, we must curb our impatience while we learn something of the species we’ll pursue. Superficially, they are much alike. But the various sub-species differ sufficiently from one another so that it is all too easy to be on guard against the wiles of one, while leaving oneself exposed to the deceptively gentle-seeming blandishments of another. The way to escape this error is to study each specimen in its lair, in its natural habitat. For with this knowledge as a guide, the superficial similarities will vanish and the differences among the subspecies—those differences celebrated with a joyful Vive!—will become apparent. Forewarned is forearmed: study the specimens here displayed in the lairs where they lurk—and good hunting!


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