News
1 min

Did a gay man ruin porn for straight women?

Playgirl to cease publication

Did a gay man ruin porn for straight women?

In 1995 Dirk Shafer made a documentary film, Man of the Year, about being chosen Playgirl magazine’s sexual icon to straight women even though he was — gasp! — a gay man. Not only were many Playgirl models gay, he revealed, but a surprising chunk of the magazine’s fan base was too.

Once that closet door was open Playgirl became a little more obvious about catering to its gay fans but perhaps too obvious, suggests former editor Colleen Kane. In a piece for Radar magazine she explains that “the unfortunate ’90s trends of Day-Glo spandex, long hair, manscaping and inverted triangle-shaped muscle-bound bodies” pulled Playgirl away from its ’70s feminist roots, not to mention the growing lack of shyness about depicting the erect penis in all its glory.

“Women often need a little more context to fantasize — a story, a person, a mood. Without the right factors in place, seeing a picture of a giant dong can feel like getting flashed,” says Kane.

This is a hard thing for gay men to understand: Who could resist a giant dong? But Meredith Chivers, a research fellow at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, says it’s true: Most women just don’t go for cock the way gay guys do.

In her research Chivers found that images of muscular, naked men doing yoga were as arousing to straight women as footage of the Himalayan mountains. What turned women on was less about the image than the action. Depictions of sensuality or outright sex were more arousing and, interestingly, worked regardless of gender.

Chivers found that the sexuality of women is more fluid. That means women are more open to bisexuality than men who, even when defining themselves as bisexual, tend to prefer one gender to another.

“The sensuality of a woman in general is attractive to women whether they’re straight or not,” agrees Etmet Musa, a buyer at sex shop Come as You Are. Musa says women are now all about video.

“I definitely think lesbian porn is on the rise. It doesn’t mean they’ll immediately go and act it out,” she laughs, “but most women are big on elaborate, artistic fantasies — the props, the makeup, the feather boa, whatever — while men just go straight for what they’re looking for.”