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ONE DIRTY PICTURE is worth a thousand words.
Or so think the editors of Oui magazine, a new monthly put out by Playboy Publications. For there is little more to this magazine than pictures of the usual breasts, asses, and pubic hair--and more of the last than is usual in Playboy. But then again, Oui is meant for "Men of the World," as the cover proclaims. Or, as the promotional literature for potential advertisers says for the 18-to-30 age group.
Oui is not all pictures indeed 50 of its 134 pages have some kind of writing other than advertising on them But what writing there is tends toward extreme banality at best and embarassing juvenility at worst.
Oui lacks any writing of the kind that has elevated Playboy slightly above pure sex exploitation. Playboy has not shared the famous names or good writers or clever staffers that fill the spaces between torsos. Instead, Oui borrows more from Playboy's rival magazine, the British monthly Penthouse. There are more spread-legs poses, more explicit drawings, and more references to fetishes and sado-masochism than Playboy runs.
But most of these remain vague references, often deceptively so. For instance, the cover tells the newsstand onlooker that inside he will find "bikes, leather, Nazis, flesh bestiality," everything to satisfy the macho lusts of that man of the world.
Inside the leather turns out to be a fashion section, the Nazis, a short overblown piece of nonfiction on a woman Nazi hunter, and the bestiality a three-page pictorial of animals copulating. The last is the only thing in the magazine that shows any sign of originality. Subtitled "Our Friends in the Animal Kingdom Finally Get It On," the pictorial is actually funny. But in the context of the rest of Our it reads like self-parody. There are pictures of walfuses, rhinos, zebras, tortoises and hippopatomuses getting laid. It looks more like a selection from Mad magazine than from what the PR men call Playboy's new publication with an international flavor."
Oui's lowpoints are subterranean. An article called "The CIA's Superpilots Spill the Beans" is probably the first thing outside of the right-wing press to romanticize the war in Vietnam since John Wayne made "The Green Berets." Then there's an interview with Marlon Brando that treats him like a deity and asks him such probing questions as "Do you believe there are limits to the power to persuasion?" and "Are you worried about your image?"
BUT THESE WEAKNESSES are peripheral to its fundamental failing, its sexually offensive nature. Oui subscribes to the narrowest kind of sexual stereotyping. Men must be tough, unsympathetic, daring: women weak, mindless, and full-breasted.
"We're generally in favor of eroticism in its congenial aspects," Oui's editors say, "and greatly against exploitation." Yet there is nothing in Our to indicate that the editors are publishing it for anything but exploitation. As the table of contents says under the article "Cover Girl Bares All." "The first rule of the magazine business is that the cover sells the magazine. The second rule of the magazine business is that a cover girl uncovered really sells magazines. We're not in this for our health."
Or take the article "Sixteen Facts about French Women." This is how Oui portrays them: "French women are different from American women. They speak a foreign language and drink wine with lunch.... French women are extremely artistic. When they are not posing for artists, they are posing for photographers. They are all very beautiful and can dance the Samba like anything." The piece could be describing animals.
The editors advertise the centerfold as the first of its kind showing both a man and a woman. Yet the picture is as sexist as the rest of the issue. The man is shown covered by a brown sheet and in the shadows, only his face and arm visible. The woman is bathed in light, breasts and vagina exposed, taking up a full three-quarters of the frame. After all, they're not in this for their health.
Why was Playboy not satisfied with selling only one exploitative 7-million-circulation magazine? Jon Carroll. Oui's co-editor, explains: "We saw that there was a market for another tit magazine." And judging from the sales in the Square (Out of Town News called the sales "phenomenal"), the market for glossy this wall make the editors more than healthy.
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