Thursday, October 05, 2017

When Herbert Marcuse almost posed for Playboy Magazine

"Given his new-found notoriety, it was only natural that Playboy wanted to do an interview with him. According to former student and friend Andrew Feenberg, Playboy had offered Marcuse “a large sum of money” for the interview. After receiving the call, Feenberg recounts, Marcuse considered the proposition carefully. His philosophy was one of radical social equality, which, for him, included a fulsome commitment to gender equality. As such, he decided “it was impossible for him to do it”. Whatever positive effects Playboy had in loosening over-repressive post-war sexual norms, it was part of a process that objectified and commodified women. 
But instead of simply declining the offer, however, Marcuse told Playboy he would do the interview, but “only if he could be the centrefold”. The thought of the reserved old German professor, with his “long white hair”, “broad nose” and “enormous ears” (Michael G. Horowitz’s description) gracing the now iconic centre pages of Playboy in 1970 is definitely a rousing one. Unfortunately, the idea didn’t fly with the magazine."