Indianapolis-"I only read it for the Norman Rockwell tributes."
That is what editors of The Saturday Evening Post are hoping to hear from horny readers-old and young-when it starts publishing nude centerfolds of deceased and aging celebrities next year.
Taking a cue from Playboy, which is in the process of ending its practice of publishing nude photos of models, starlets and celebrities, The Saturday Evening Post hopes to reconnect its readers with the famous sex goddesses of the past.
"Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Carmen Miranda, Bettie Page, Ginger Rogers, Esther Williams-all of them will be depicted in the full, natural glory, sans robe," proclaimed Steven Sion, the editor of The Saturday Evening Post. "But we intend to go further than Hugh Hefner would have done with Playboy. We intend to show them as Norman Rockwell would have done them-had he been into doing fine art nudes. We might have some of the ladies-sans robe of course-gathered around the dining room table re-enacting Rockwell's Thanksgiving dinner painting."
Other classic paintings by Rockwell, who passed away in 1978, that would be subject to re-interpretation include the one of the little boy with his pants down in the doctor's office ("That would be ideal for our Bettie Page feature," noted Sion.) and the one of the boys running in front of sign marked "No Swimming". ("That would be perfect for Rita Hayworth, Esther Williams and maybe Marilyn Monroe," noted Sion.) And in a nod to Playboy, a doctor resembling Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, would have his stephoscope on the chest of a bunny being held by Cyd Charisse. ("Or the gal may be a typical Playboy bunny," Sion said.)
Playboy is planning to drop its nude photos with its March, 2016 issue because of the rise of other sources for porn, such as the internet. While the magazine plans to continue to show women in provocative poses, it has announced that they will not depict women in the nude. This is an attempt for the venerable men's magazine to gain a wide audience and regain its circulation, which has fallen to 800,000 from its heyday, when the circulation was in the millions.
As with Playboy, The Saturday Evening Post has been dealing with questions of its existence. In its heyday, the magazine was among those magazines which were aimed at a general readership-much on the lines of such rivals as Life, Look or Collier's. After ceasing publication for a few years in the late 1960s, the Post returned, focusing on nostalgia topics. More recently, it has returned to a general readership. A few years ago, the Post brought back its logo from the 1940s; many had thought the bi-monthly had ceased publication.
Rival publications are taking note, according to the trade publication Editor & Publisher. For example, the Reader's Digest is interested in publishing nude centerfolds, as are Reminisce, Nostalgia Digest and Grit.
None of this fazes Sion. "Only the Digest has a big enough circulation to threaten us," he said. "And there is absolutely no way anyone could open the centerfold in a Reader's Digest issue without breaking the binding. Besides, no one will ever read the Reader's Digest for the pictures. We're going to have the last laugh."